Wednesday Links: Magnolia, HBO apps, and Future TV

I’ve been caught up in Full Frame and several end of the semester and end of the year activities, but as usual, there is plenty to tak about in the world of film and TV distribution:

  • One of the bigger stories, from my perspective, is the fact that Mark Cuban has put up Magnolia Picture and Landmark Cinemas, both significant participants in the current world of indie film distribution, up for sale. In Reinventing Cinema, I credit Cuban with being an early champion of day-and-date and other practices that are now commonplace, not only for independents but even major studios. If the properties are sold, it could alter the landscape of indie film in significant ways. Anne Thompson (in the link above) states that there may be a buyer for Landmark. David Poland also speculates about Cuban’s motivations.
  • Inside Redbox cites a study that indicates that Netflix’s content costs could approach or exceed $2 billion next year, suggesting that the costs of streaming rights may exceed the expenses associated with Netflix’s typically efficient DVD-by-mail system.
  • On a related note, Netflix is looking into creating “family plans” that would allow two or more users associated with a specific account to watch content at the same time. According to the NewTeeVee article, they are also trying to come up with plans for integrating Netflix with social media sites such as Facebook to create more interactive viewing experiences.
  • NewTeeVee also discusses DishTV’s plans for Blockbuster, suggesting that it is more interested in owning the company’s rights to digital content than it is in the struggling bricks-and-mortar stores. Blockbuster is now down to 600 or so stores compared to its peak of more than 4,000.
  • HBO is also launching its iPad app, which will also work on Android systems. As NewTeeVee speculates, this provides HBO with a new way to compete with Netflix, Hulu, and other subscription services.
  • Michael Stroud discusses some of the recent predictions about the “future” of television, which likely includes more a la carte programming and limited use of 3-D. I’m still skeptical about 3-D TV, even for spectacular programming such as live sports.
  • Poland offers further assessment of why he thinks premium VOD won’t work, pointing out, in part, that only a tiny fraction of movie consumers watch movies this way and that currently, only about 1% of revenue from Hollywood films comes from VOD (I’d imagine that the percentage for indies is probably higher, but that’s a whole ‘nother story).
  • Finally Poland provides an extended video interview with Bill Mechanic about many of the issues related to the digital delivery of movies.

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