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The Digital Impulse Purchase

13 May, 2013 By: Stephanie Prange

The world is going digital, and how the studios fit into that new world is still up in the air. We’ve got subscription streaming, electronic sellthrough, UltraViolet (which is sellthrough for the moment), early digital availability and (though most don’t want to admit it) digital piracy vying for customers.

Fox and Sony may be on the right track with early digital availability of titles, but the ultimate digital purchase would take advantage of moviegoers as they leave the theater.

After enjoying a blockbuster such as Iron Man 3 or a film that the little ones exclaim they want to see again and again, it would seem only logical to have the ability to purchase that film, either on disc or digitally. There is never a more opportune time to capture the enthusiasm of a movie audience than after they have just seen the film.

Think of it as the rent-to-buy option the video and game industry have been touting for years. Seeing a film in the theater is similar to renting it (though the screen size is obviously much bigger, the sound better, and the popcorn and drinks exponentially more expensive).

For years, theaters have been marketing vehicles for the video industry and others down in the entertainment food chain. Why not take advantage of the marketing muscle closer to the release of the film?

I know what I’m proposing may seem like heresy to film connoisseurs. Certainly, many, including myself, relish and respect the experience of viewing a film in the theater.

But I think Fox and Sony may be on to something. They just aren’t marketing it at the correct point. If, after viewing a particularly good movie in the theater that I want to own, I were to get a pitch to buy it and have it delivered to my house either digitally or on disc (or both via UltraViolet) in a matter of weeks, I might make that digital impulse purchase at the right price. It would allow the studio to reap a more-instant gain on the film, and, if the deal were structured properly, might even help the theater owners.

I can envision a future in which you walk out of the theater and can buy that movie on your mobile phone for delivery at a later date (either on disc or digitally).

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