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Stephanie Prange is the editor in chief of Home Media Magazine. The Yale University graduate joined what was then Video Store Magazine in 1993 and was instrumental in transitioning the publication into a tabloid newsweekly. She spearheaded the publication’s reviews section, as well as aggressive coverage of the home video sales market. She also helped launch the magazine’s Web site in 1996. In her position as editor-in-chief since 2006, she has spearheaded the launch of such projects as the daily blast, transmitted via email each day to readers, and Agent DVD, a consumer publication aimed at genre enthusiasts who attend Comic-Con International in San Diego. She has freelanced for The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times and parenting publications. She has an M.A. in journalism from the University of Southern California.


Problems at the Studio? Blame DVD!

7 Jul, 2011 By: Stephanie Prange

I’m beginning to sense a little groupthink going on in the studio system, and it closely mirrors what tech companies and Wall Street are putting out as well. I guess if Wall Street says something often enough even those who are supposed to know better begin to believe it.

The conventional wisdom? The death of DVD is responsible for all the woes in the studio system.

Now, every stereotype may have some truth to it. Certainly, the explosion of DVD hid many bad-movie sins in the early 2000s.
But to blame the falloff in revenue in the disc business — something that was inevitable once the catalog had been mined from the vault — for the decline in everything from stock prices to star salaries is just silly. This month the Los Angeles Times ran an about the dropoff in salaries for stars such as Cameron Diaz because of shrinking fortunes in comedy DVD sales.

To turn conventional wisdom on its head, perhaps we should be asking, “Why isn’t digital delivery coming in with studio profits to save the day?”

Perhaps we should be blaming the LACK of profit in streaming for poor Miss Diaz’s shrunken paycheck.

Streaming is the current darling of Wall Street, and the studios are beginning to see dollar signs there (or possibly drinking that Kool-Aid). But where are the dollars?

What I hope isn’t happening is that studios are taking the money today from services such as Netflix and neglecting the long-term value of the catalog.

And I’m not the only one.

I’ve talked to industry observers who bemoan the rush to make a quick buck off of catalog, rather than manage each title based on its inherent appeal.

The industry has been spoiled by the easy money of the DVD boom and is looking for the next quick-money fix. Could industry executives be mortgaging the studios’ future to goose revenue in this inevitable downturn?

Netflix in 2008 inked an original content deal with Starz for $30 million annually that expires in the first quarter of 2012, giving it access to top releases. News Corp. president Chase Carey characterized that agreement as “beyond cheap.”

Let’s hope the studios aren’t making deals that may be considered “beyond cheap” in the years to come. If so, these deals may be more to blame for Diaz’s lower salary than is DVD.

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About the Author: Stephanie Prange

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