Friday, October 14, 2011

Freeze Frame: The WSW roundtable take 3

So we're back once again to talk about what's going on in the film world. Once again we're joined by three of the LAMB's finest: Univarn from A Life in Equinox, Andrew from Encore's World of Film and TV, and Clara from Just Chick Flicks.

1. Netflix recently announced a restructuring of their business model in which video streaming and DVD delivery will be separate services. If you use Netflix, how will this affect your home video watching? How do you see this change in terms of the future of not only streaming, but the DVD market? (Note: this discussion began before Netflix announced that they would go back to their original system.)

I must say, this restructuring sent mental turmoil throughout our household. We didn't want to pay for both, but the way we watch movies relies heavily on both being readily available. We don't watch DVDs that often, and often when we do get a DVD it's scratched beyond bearable - at least 50% of the time - but that's where the most complete collection of movies are. The streaming is great because it goes through our Wii, first and foremost, and it goes well with the spontaneity in our viewing decisions. Unfortunately it lacks consistent, quality releases. Among its classic collection I've seen so many of them that the interest isn't really there. Don't even get me started on the unbelievable number of movies they pack in to pad the numbers that are only ever shown during torture at Gitmo.

I do think that long term the streaming market is the future of watching - especially as video game consoles, DVD players, and television sets have stepped up to provide apps and internet connections so you can stream the movies right onto your TV instead of hunching over a laptop.

However, with streaming the quality of your content is directly related to the quality of your internet connection. For low income, or rural households streaming may still be a distant option.

I am a Netflix customer and I was very upset by not only the the separation of DVD and Streaming, but by the huge price increase. I have keep the streaming service, because it is convenient for me when I want to watch an older movie or TV show, but I am evaluating if is worth the price. Except for the addition of AMC's Mad Men, there very little that feel is worth the extra fee.

As for the future, who can say. Technology changes so fast. With the increase in iPad and tablet usage, streaming becomes more important. But I think people with want access to new releases. Unless Netflix adds new release movies to the streaming, I don't see where there is any value in the service.

I suppose it’s best if I don’t answer the Netflix question because it’s not available in Guyana and I just get by on information I read. I will say, though, that even though I understand the entire hubbub that followed the price increase and the structural changes that the consumers were being a bit ridiculous because considering how accessible the company has made watching film and TV shows I think the criticism was a bit too over-emphasised.

2. SONY recently announced that it would no longer pay for 3D glasses beginning next May, preferring that moviegoers buy their own. Is this a reasonable expectation? What should theater owners do about this? What, if anything, does the popularity of re-releases in 3D such as The Lion King say about moviegoers’ preferences?

Too soon. Way way way too soon. If this was 2020 and we had 3D phones, 3D tablets, 3D PCs, and everything was 3D then I'd say solid. But right now the only reason you would own a pair of 3D glasses is that you own a 3D TV. Beyond that, there's no incentive. You go to the theater and they'll make you purchase a pair. And that's the only other avenue where these are a needed option. So why in the world would they assume people are going to buy (and keep track of) something they may only use four to five times a year? Whoever made this call obviously exists on a planet far beyond the scope of this one.

Theater owners will clearly have to keep selling them, which just shifts the responsibility around some, though it may offer them another avenue to make money (which I'm all for granted the cost doesn't skyrocket).

As for The Lion King, I'm willing to bet that even without the 3D, it would have brought in similar numbers for a large scale theatrical re-release. It's just that popular of a movie and who in their right mind wouldn't want to see the sheer epic scope and beauty of that film on the big screen? So as to the 3D drawing, I think it just bumps up the dollar figures of what was already going to be a big draw.

I don't like 3D movies and I am not sure what the box office figures are for 3D vs. regular movies. In very few instances does the 3D effect add anything to the movie and often it is distracting. In my opinion it is just a way for theater operators to charge higher ticket prices. And charging even more for the 3D glasses proves it. Do they expect that you will pay an $15 to see their 3D movies and then pay another $5 for the glasses to view the movie? 

Is it a reasonable expectation? Who knows, right? I suppose if you want to see something in 3D you’ll have to be expected to foot the bill. I will say, in regards to the re-releases in 3D – I think it’s less about them being in 3D and more about them being re-released in the first place (second place?) For example, in relation to Titanic being re-released a number of people are just excited to see it in the theatres again, they seem to care little about the 3D fact. And, I think it goes the same way for these animated movies. Who doesn’t want to see Scar fall to his death on a big screen?

3. Oscar season is in full swing. Which movies, present or future, do you see as potential contenders for Best Picture and other categories, and why?

I honestly haven't the slightest clue. I really don't invest into the Oscar season until around December - some years not until January. Why? Because at this point it's just speculation and a seemingly nonstop flow of exclamation points. Hardly ringing endorsements and unlikely to gain any real momentum come the actual Oscar time. As for who I think has a potential to win? Not a clue in hell. I don't think it'll be any of the films currently released, and I'll tell you why - no sustained buzz factor. The crows calling out Best Picture haven't been able to stick for any film. I think there are a few sentimental favorites. Ides of March will likely contend well for acting trophies - [Ryan] Gosling's been on the cuff of an Oscar for years. Unfortunately many of the films currently pegged as Oscar contenders by sites that monitor that sort of stuff aren't anywhere near an NC release so I can't comment as to their real quality.

The anglophile in me would like to see some love dished out for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - if for no other reason than Gary Oldman finally getting a (much deserved) Oscar. The Artist has gotten a steady stream of good buzz from everyone I know who has seen it, but being popular among seasoned filmgoers seldom translates well into major Oscar contention.

I see Viola Davis getting another Oscar nod for The Help. December releases like TinTin, War Horse and Hugo may also be contenders. Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood are definitely contenders for J. Edgar; possibly Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady and David Fincher for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I would be interested to see what the others members of the panel have to say about this topic.

I have been RIDICULOUSLY out of touch with Oscars this year, or movies really. I didn’t even make my usual most anticipated list, and I’m struggling trying to think of what will be “big”. By de facto I want to see Hugo because I adore Scorsese and I really will watch anything he does, but in terms of Oscar prognosticating. I predicted, foolishly perhaps, in June that The Descendants would win best picture - and since I did predict The King’s Speech in June of 2010 I’m wondering if maybe I’m a soothsayer. 


Take 1 (3D, video-on-demand, movies for adults)
Take 2 (Best Picture voting, int'l marketing, Bridesmaids)

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