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Let's Inject Some Excitement Back Into Our Industry

23 Sep, 2016 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Another fourth quarter is upon us, and the silence, sad to say, is deafening. The gala parties that a decade ago heralded the release of hot new theatrical features onto DVD and, later, Blu-ray Disc, are a fuzzy memory.

No more Craig Kornblau riding through the streets of Hollywood on a camel (as the former Universal Studios home entertainment president did to promote The Mummy); no more gastronomical feasts where guests are wined and dined as executives talk up the popularity of their holiday season slate (Walt Disney’s Ratatouille).

And those junkets sending media types to New York, even London, for such disc releases as a “Harry Potter” movie, The Godfather and “Seinfeld”? Forget it.

The excitement that preceded the holidays in those halcyon days of DVD and Blu-ray Disc, when sales growth each year was measured in the double digits, is conspicuously absent.

And yet I can’t help but wonder, are we giving up too soon? Disc sales are holding steady. Blu-ray Disc purchases are up. We have a hot new physical format, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, that comes close to replicating the theatrical experience — something of a Holy Grail for home entertainment marketers ever since the first VHS cassettes rolled off the assembly line. And the electronic sellthrough business, while hardly a fireball, is slowly but surely gaining ground, as viewers get hooked on a movie franchise or TV series on Netflix and then go to Amazon Prime or Hulu to buy the latest installment.

I know. I recently spent $24 each on the second seasons of “How to Get Away With Murder” and “Scream” (don’t judge). And my kids keep buying movies on Prime as well.

Yes, Netflix is a hungry monster that’s only growing bigger. Yes, OTT is taking over our business. Yes, consumers are spending about half what they did a decade ago on buying discs.

But does that mean we can’t have a single party for one of our fourth-quarter tentpoles? A junket to, say, Las Vegas? Or even a press release touting first-week sales, complete with a studio president quote about what an achievement it is?

We need to breathe some life into this business. There’s a lot to show, a lot to tell. But we can’t very well expect consumers to get excited about our business if we keep shaking our heads and wistfully reflecting on the good old days when the latest “Shrek” broke all sales records.

Let’s put some fun, some energy, some excitement back into the business. The fourth quarter begins Oct. 1. Come on, Hollywood — don’t let me down.

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