Cinema DRM nightmare

Tarmle imagines the future of cinema-going in Burnoff: Part 1 – The Bad Guys Win

Going to the movies is not what it used to be. Security at the studio-owned theatres is heavy, it’s not a trip to be taken lightly. But if you want to see the film everyone is talking about without waiting a year for the home release, you have little choice. When you enter the lobby the first thing you see are long ranks of tiny, thumbprint activated lockers. This is where you must leave all of your electronics, your personal server and peripherals, even your watch, and you had better not be wearing smart spectacles or contacts.

I don’t see the real future being like that but I think the future does look bleak for cinemas.

Mark Cuban asks What Business are theaters in ?

I think Cuban makes great points. Cinema owners need to embrace the changes in the industry and innovate and possibly diversify, create an environment that people want to experience. Going to the cinema should be more than just a chance to see the latest blockbuster. Because if the only competitive advantage cinemas can offer is that of seeing the movie first then they’ve already lost because ‘pirates’ are always going to find a way to videotape the movie.

The hyper-secure cinema that Tarmle imagines will never work because customers will simply not put up with it. They might put up and shut up when it comes to the ridiculous restrictions placed upon them in order to take a plane flight but they will draw a line when it comes to their entertainment.

The cinema and movie industry need to embrace a world where if you missed it in the theater today you could see it on DVD tonight.

The lead time between the theatrical release and the DVD release has shrunk to only a few months now in many cases that I think there is an argument to be made that they should go the whole way and have simultaneous releases.

However before that they need to get on board with simultaneous worldwide releases and get rid of the DVD region system. With some movies getting released on DVD in the US before they even hit cinemas in the UK they have undermined their own business model. They argue that piracy is killing the industry but they are fueling it by having staggered releases as the globalising effect of the internet means that the US release of a movie creates an instant desire to see the movie in the rest of the world. This desire to see the movie is not being satisfied by the official release as that might be months off so the consumer turns to the pirates that can satisfy the desire with a dodgy looking video that was taped in an American cinema.

Review: The Power of Nightmares

I watched the first part of a three-part documentary series titled The Power of Nightmares on BBC 2 early tonight.

This series shows dramatically how the idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion. It is a myth that has spread unquestioned through politics, the security services and the international media. At the heart of the story are two groups: the American neoconservatives and the radical Islamists. Both were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. These two groups have changed the world but not in the way either intended. Together they created today’s nightmare vision of an organised terror network. A fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. Those with the darkest fears became the most powerful.

I would urge everyone to see this if you get the chance as well as watching Errol Morris’s documentary film The Fog of War.

I’ve been saying this for a while but the concept of a War on Terror is nonsensical because not only is it a war on an abstract concept but you cannot defeat terrorists by waging war anyway. We are not at any greater risk of terrorism since 9/11 than we were before, that’s not to say that there is no danger but that it is of the same level as it ever was.

To really combat terrorism requires the typical cloak and dagger stuff that the security services do such as surveillance, wiretapping and infiltration of suspect groups. Plus increasing the security of likely targets of terrorist attacks in a manner that not only appears like you are doing something to improve security but actually does improve security.

But it isn’t easy to sell to the public that you are doing everything possible to combat terrorism if nothing is appears to be happening. Foiling a terrorist attack isn’t something that can revealed to the public in many cases at it could hamper future operations. So for the governments to appear to their citizens that they are effective in this they need to go and wage war in the name of combating terrorism even if the enemy in these wars are only tangentially connected to terrorism if at all.