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Study Counters Prevailing Movie and DVD Biz Practices

1 Sep, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner

Studios could improve box office earnings by stretching the theatrical window instead of shrinking it, according to a new research report — while DVD sales could benefit by having multiple configurations of the same movie released at the same time.

Brandimensions, which also works with studios on movie marketing for theatrical and DVD releases, surveyed 1.8 million consumer discussion boards, chats and blogs in which people were discussing reasons they do or don't go to the movies. The firm then culled 1,350 comments to assemble a picture of moviegoing behavior and factors that are influencing it.

“These are online communities; they want the real goods on something, not the corporate line,” said Michael Coristine, who managed Brandimensions' “The 2005 Hollywood Box Office Slump” report. “Today's educated moviegoer can see past the hype and they want more steak and less sizzle.”

Among those comments, 85 percent of people cited poor movie quality among their top three reasons for not going as often to the theater. Forty-four percent said it was the primary reason, and another 62 percent said it was the secondary reason. Just 19 percent cited viewing alternatives, primarily DVD, as their main reason for staying out of theaters.

Studios have been quick to point the finger at the quality of the theatrical experience, and exhibitors have fired back with criticism of this year's movie quality.

Brandimensions found some truth in both sides, but concluded that consumers will put up with high ticket and concession prices, boorish patrons, commercials and competing for parking if the movie is good enough.

The largest group of defectors is 25- to 49-year-old males at 41 percent, with females in the same age bracket in second place at 24 percent.

And what are they doing instead? With ticket prices on the rise, viewers are more likely to make a night of a sporting event, concert or even a trip to a casino, which they perceive as a better value for a comparable price, the researchers found.

The DVD Connection
Marketing is part of the problem and studios divisions need to communicate better with each other, the researchers said.

“Once one part of the studio is done with the film, like theatrical, they say 'let the DVD guys worry about it,’ said Brandimensions SVP of strategy and corporate development Ted Morris. “We're often the thread that ties the theatrical people with the DVD people because they often don't talk to each other.”

The survey also revealed that downloaders are not much of a threat to the box office, contrary to the Motion Picture Association of America's contention.

“We basically found that that's a bunch of hooey,” Coristine said. “They don't want to wait nine hours for a movie to download.”

For DVD, the researchers found that extending the DVD window would help boost box office earnings, while sales for the DVD release would increase if titles were offered in as many as four or five configurations simultaneously to appeal to different types of viewers.

“They should ramp that up,” Morris said.

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