Imagine if The Dark Knight or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull initially opened in limited release, and then took a month or so to reach you in "flyover country." But on the same day that they hit those first theaters in New York and L.A., they were also available on your television, via Video on Demand. Would you wait a few weeks to see the blockbusters on the big screen or would you lack the patience and go ahead and download the movies to your cable box? Of course you would choose the VOD route. I probably would, as well.
Despite this column, I cannot claim to be a purist when it comes to theatrical film exhibition. I subscribe to Netflix and even sometimes watch old movies on the Watch Now streaming player. I now own a video iPod, and while I haven't yet tried watching a feature, I have had no problem watching shorts and television episodes on its small screen and am not totally against eventually downloading a whole movie from iTunes. And although New York's Film Forum is currently showing a ton of United Artists classics, many of which I've never seen at all and a number of which I've never seen on the big screen, I haven't been able to make my way to Manhattan to appreciate the retrospective.