Posts for 'Universal Pictures'

  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Why Hollywood Is In A Deep, Dark Box of Its Own Making

    (Reminder - if you are a listener of The VideoNuze Report podcast, please update your feed per below to the new Inside the Stream feeds which have been available for a couple of months....we don't want to lose you as a listener as we complete this transition!)

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Hollywood is in a deep, dark box of its own making. On this week’s podcast, Colin and I explain why that is and what the implications are.

    Earlier this week I wrote about how Matt Damon provided a “Hollywood 101” class in the fundamental economics of why making movies in the $30 million - $70 million budget range has become practically a non-starter in Hollywood (except very rare exceptions like “Stillwater”).

    Then Colin shares all the relevant new data from DEG highlighting how SVOD has essentially sucked all the life out of DVD and digital sales and rentals of movies. Now Hollywood is going to exacerbate this trend by shortening the window of time from theatrical release to premiering movies on their own streaming services. This will effectively kill the so-called “Pay-1 window,” depriving studios of yet another once lucrative revenue stream. There are incredibly challenges times coming up for Hollywood studios.

    The biggest losers in all of this are us, the moviegoing public. Today’s is not a happy podcast. Neither Colin nor I see any Hollywood endings to this story. But again, life is unpredictable, so you just never know.

    Listen to the podcast (31 minutes, 4 seconds)

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  • Matt Damon Gives a “Hollywood 101” Class on What Ails the Industry

    Matt Damon has provided a “Hollywood 101” class on what ails the industry as he’s made the rounds over the last 2-3 weeks in support for his new movie “Stillwater.” Leave it to a Boston guy to articulate Hollywood’s dilemma authentically and succinctly. But before getting to Damon’s nuggets of wisdom, let me share my own (thanks NYNEX Yellow Pages for the classic “Vanity Cases” ads as a reminder/inspiration).

    Last month, in “5 Reasons Going to the Movies is Facing an Irreversible Demise,” one of the reasons I cited was that the quality of streaming TV and movies are going in opposite directions (the former is getting better, albeit inconsistently, and the latter is is in a precipitous nosedive). This reason alone would be enough to sink moviegoing over time. On podcasts this summer I have lamented how, despite the reopening, there isn’t a single movie my wife and I have been motivated to see. That has caused us to improvise and reluctantly do other things with our bits of free time (yes, mostly stream).

    But last weekend we did see a movie, “Stillwater;” the first time we had entered a theater since pre-Covid. We saw it in Pittsfield, MA at 8:45pm in one of those luxury theaters with the fold down and heated seats. We got there a little early, plunked ourselves into the middle and waited during the trailers and ads for the audience to fill in. But they never did. Not one other person attended. We sat in a theater all to ourselves and got a “private” screening of “Stillwater” for the princely sum of $10 per ticket.

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  • 5 Reasons Going to the Movies is Facing an Irreversible Demise

    Yesterday’s news that Universal Pictures will release certain of its 2022 movies on Peacock no more than four months after their theatrical premiere was just the latest move by the owner of both a studio and a streaming service (in this case Comcast) to accelerate the demise of going to a theater to see a movie.

    Universal’s move shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Back in April, 2020, in the early days of the pandemic, Universal decided to release “Trolls World Tour” as a digital rental to mitigate the closure of theaters. That touched off a highly public war of words with AMC Theaters’ head Adam Aron, who threatened to no longer carry Universal’s movies. Aron and NBCU head Jeff Shell ultimately buried the hatchet, signing a new deal that compressed the theatrical window from 90 days to 17. Aron may have gotten the last laugh when AMC’s stock unexpectedly got caught up in the meme frenzy and the company raised over $1.2 billion by issuing new shares over the past few months.

    Of course, Universal is following a playbook being run by other cross-owned studios/streaming services. Disney has simultaneously released a number of its movies in theaters and on Disney+, experimenting with the premium rental model. ViacomCBS is compressing the theatrical window for Paramount movies to get them onto Paramount+ as quickly as possible. And of course WarnerMedia set off a firestorm back in December, ’20 when it abruptly announced all of its 2021 Warner Bros.’ slate would be simultaneously released on HBO Max (that decision was reversed for the 2022 slate).

    Taken together, it’s pretty clear that studios are delicately, yet aggressively, prioritizing their streaming services over theatrical, irrespective of whatever soothing assurances studio executives continue to offer about the importance of the theater experience to assuage chain owners. But in reality, the studios’ moves are just one of at least 5 reasons why going to the movies is facing an irreversible demise as streaming upends every corner of the media and entertainment industry.

    Read the 5 reasons

  • VideoNuze Podcast #512: PVOD Focus Accelerates With Pandemic

    I’m pleased to present the 512th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. We hope all of our listeners are staying safe and doing well.

    On this week’s podcast Colin and I look at what’s ahead for premium video on demand (PVOD), whereby movies are released direct to consumer, preempting the theatrical window. PVOD has been a contentious topic and with theaters currently closed due to the pandemic PVOD’s appeal has accelerated.

    PVOD was in the news earlier this week as the Wall Street Journal wrote how Universal Pictures’ PVOD release of “Trolls World Tour” generated 5 million rentals at $20 apiece. That yielded a split to Universal that was on par with 5 months of theatrical release revenue for the first “Trolls’ movie, underscoring PVOD’s profit potential for studios.

    The article triggered pushback from executives at leading theater chains who are justifiably nervous about PVOD eating into their  windows. Colin and I dig into the pros and cons of PVOD and what’s likely ahead as stay at home orders slowly lift.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 34 seconds)

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  • Cinemark Shouldn't Worry: Universal's "Tower Heist" $60 VOD Test Will Also Flop

    Late yesterday, the LA Times reported that Cinemark, the 3rd-largest theater chain in the U.S., will boycott "Tower Heist," the new Eddie Murphy-Ben Stiller comedy, because of a test unveiled by its studio Universal Pictures to offer the movie just 3 weeks after its theatrical release for $60 on video-on-demand. Cinemark is concerned that the test would cannibalize box office sales. From my perspective, it needn't worry much as the test is likely to be yet another flop in what has become known as "Premium VOD."

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  • Metacafe’s “Bourne Ultimatum” Mashup Will Spur Imitators

    The Metacafe team posted a progress update on its "Bourne Ultimatum" mashup initiative, launched with Universal Pictures on July 23rd. To date, over 1,000 mashups have been posted, with the most popular ones highlighted on the site. Metacafe and Universal teamed up with Diffuse Media Group for the simple-to-use mashup tool.

    These kinds of mashups are such a winning idea, it’s amazing to me that they still haven't gained a ton of market momentum. I think it’s just a matter of time, it’s so easy to execute.

    Here, Universal provided a collection of scenes and music from the movie. Fans can express their enthusiasm by mixing them up as they please overlaying the music tracks provided. Especially for a franchise like "Bourne", where rabid fans eagerly await each sequel, allowing these folks to participate in the promotional buildup is a real win-win. Tomorrow, when "Bourne" opens everywhere, there will already have been tens (hundreds?) of thousands of people talking up the flick who have seen the mashups or created their own.

    Compare this level of fan engagement and promotion to the traditional process of producing 1 trailer and then paying for expensive TV time to promote it. That model seems so yesterday by the standards of what broadband video and Web 2.0 are enabling.

    Specifically, broadband is enabling a whole new element of the marketing mix to take root. And the possibilities for where mashups go from here are limitless. Consider: how about letting fans mix in their own voice-overs of certain scenes or mix in their own video clips or have the studio create contests to showcase and reward winning mashups (e.g. Matt Damon-signed, collector’s edition DVD for the winner and such). The list goes on.

    I’m expecting lots of smart marketers are going to be increasing their mashup activity quite soon.

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