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    Film Industry Experts Offer 10 Predictions for 2010

    by Nick Mendoza
    December 22, 2009
    Hollywood loves the future. Here's what's in store for next year.

    Films such as “2001” and “2012” illustrate how the future has long fascinated Hollywood. With a new year on the horizon, I asked 10 executives and analysts, many of whom were in attendance at the recent Future of Film Summit in Santa Monica, Calif., for their predictions about the film industry. Below are 10 topics and thoughts on what the industry and consumers should expect next year and beyond.

    1. 3D

    Ahmad Ouri, CMO, Technicolor: “2010 will be a defining year for 3D in theaters, in the living room, and even on mobile. For nearly a century, Technicolor has innovated entertainment for the big screen and the small screen, and we’ve seen the ‘big’ get bigger, and the ‘small’ screens get smaller, with the advancements in mobile devices. In 2010, we’ll see 3D film and other content infiltrate all of these visual display mediums, and 3D will no longer be confined to the multiplex.”

    A premium-priced home viewing window for movies will be sandwiched between the theatrical release and the DVD release." - Blair Westlake

    2. Alternative Content

    John Rubey, president, AEG Network Live: “Alternative content (e.g. concerts and sports in movie theaters) continues to grow in importance as traditional audiences shrink and fragment, while the alternative content grows and shows better, more predictable results.”

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    3. Digital Production

    Steve Canepa, general manager, IBM Global Media and Entertainment Industry: “2010 will be the year that Hollywood productions begin to go digital end-to-end. Starting with capturing films on location with digital cameras and scanning analog prints into digital form, the footage will move across studio lots as digital data files. This will help to streamline workflows, to shorten production cycles, to support day-in-date release windows (theatrical, DVD and potentially video-on-demand for some markets) and to provide a readily accessible archive of all the film source content.”

    4. Digital Living Room

    Mike Saxon, senior vice president, research, Harris Interactive: “We have seen steady growth in consumer uptake of legal digital distribution outlets, including iTunes, Netflix, and Hulu. We expect this trend to continue in 2010, as Internet-connected TVs shift these services from the office to the living room.”

    5. DVD Rentals + On-Demand Online

    Steve Swasey, VP, corporate communications, Netflix: “In 2010, the trend toward movie enjoyment via the Internet will continue to grow, but not only as you might guess. Yes, more people will instantly watch movies and TV episodes from Netflix via the Internet on the TV or their computer in 2010 — this area grew by 100 percent in the last year. But more people also will continue to rent DVDs online in 2010 compared to 2009. Netflix will increase its U.S. postage bill to $600 million in 2010, and to $700 million in 2011, to keep pace with the increased DVD rental demand. Whether it’s streaming instantly or sending DVD and blu-ray discs via the U.S. mail, Netflix will continue to increase its delivery to people who want to watch great movies.”

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    6. Mobile Video

    Frank Chindamo, president and chief creative officer, Fun Little Movies: “In 2010, everyone with a mobile phone will realize they’re also holding a really cool video player, and start watching what they want to watch, when and where they want to watch it — instead of having crappy over-hyped TV shows shoved in their faces.”

    7. Online Distribution

    Rick Allen, CEO, SnagFilms: “Online distribution will play an increasingly important role for all films, particularly documentaries, as audiences demand convenience and accessibility, and filmmakers seek to overcome the diminished opportunities on traditional platforms. Documentarians will bring in partners such as charities and advocates to help expand awareness, as well as audience.”

    8. Release Window

    Blair Westlake, corporate vice president, media and entertainment group, Microsoft: “As studios look for more revenue streams, a premium-priced home viewing window for movies will be commonly sandwiched between the theatrical release and the DVD release.”

    9. Theatrical Exhibition

    Andy DiOrio, corporate communications manager, AMC Entertainment: “Our crystal ball says that we will continue to see digital deployment expand in the industry, and at least one film is sure to pleasantly surprise us and exceed our expectations at the box office.”

    10. Video On Demand

    Jamie McCabe, executive vice president, worldwide PPV/VOD and EST (electronic sell-through), 20th Century Fox: “We will see continued growth in VOD across cable, telco and Internet delivered platforms with a significant expansion of available content and increased access to multiple screens.”

    Nick Mendoza is the director of digital communications at Zeno Group. He advises consumer, entertainment and web companies on digital strategy, distribution and engagement. He blogs at The Social 7 and is the film correspondent for MediaShift. Follow him on Twitter @NickMendoza.

    Tagged: 3d netflix online distribution video on demand
    • John Harding

      3-D, Netflix, digital delivery are all so last year, and ticket buyers don’t much care as long as the movie is worth their time. How about a pundit addressing the future of audience interest, like more stories about innovators and heroes, less about victims; more about the lessons of life and less about the evils of American business; less graphic and morbid interest in vomiting, dying, drugging, cheating and seeking revenge, and more depictions of self-sacrifice, good will, perseverence, and spiritual values like reverence and gratitutde.
      I really think that those at the studios who are in charge of the green lights don’t have a clue as to what audiences want. Her’s a clue: dreams, not nightmares.

    • I think the 3-D comments above are wishful thinking. I’ve watched several DVDs in 3-D … and the experience is universally poor so far. 3-D TVs are a non-starter. We’re barely used to HDTV and there’s simply not enough content to make the format viable for many years.

      And while 3-D lures in younger viewers, anyone 35 and over would likely prefer a great movie to a great 3-D effects picture.

    • Nick Mendoza

      John: Digital delivery (as well as discovery) of movies is still a new concept to many consumers. While many may be accustomed to the DVD-by-mail model or have ordered a movie on-demand, we’re still in the early stages when it comes to the expansion and integration of digital services (e.g. Boxee) meant to serve the real-time, watch anywhere interests of consumers.

      Regarding the story focus for today’s films, the studios serve a diverse set of audience interests. I’m not a fan of everything that major studios produce each year, but they expect that. There are also many outlets (e.g. SnagFilms) to look for and discover films that serve your story needs. Movies like The Blind Side, Precious and Invictus deal with tremendous life issues and reflect upon humanity in all its forms. Do you have a favorite movie of 2009 that satisfied your personal interests?

      Christian: I agree that 3D in the home will take a few years – digital 3D in theaters was introduced in 2005 and is just starting to captivate moviegoers (RealD announced this month that 100 million moviegoers have watched a movie in RealD 3D). While 2010 might not be the tipping point for 3D in the home due to lack of content and other issues (e.g. glasses), moviegoers of all ages have clearly shown interest by their wallets (per screen averages for 3D consistently exceed 2D shows). The experience will only get better with time and innovation.

    • Add to the list:
      – increased audience interaction *prior* to completion of the film, through social media, freemium content & memberships, crowdsourcing, crowdfunding,
      – change in monetisation model for indie films, as they connect directly with the audience online and offer freemium content, presales, merchandising, to get their movies financed, promoted, distributed, and manage to scrape a living.

      E.g. Biracy, The Age of Stupid, Fandom, The Cosmonaught.

    • Nick, am I the only one that is surprised no “expert” predicted that film production will continue to become increasingly less Hollywood-centric, and progressively more global?

      I see two key indicators that point to a growing trend toward greater diversity — 1) the typical U.S. studio “average” film production budget, and poor ROI. 2) the increased awareness of high-quality Indie content online, and growing demand for their less predictable storylines.

      Regarding point #2, consider the improved IP Video aggregation and filtering Web sites that already exist, and how they might evolve their discovery-enhancing capabilities.

      See my updated Web site list here, in the Resource section http://bit.ly/IP-Video-Curator

    • I’m with Luci above.

      I think digital delivery whether tightly controlled for major releases through to streaming options for consumers to freemium options by indie producers is the way forward for all tiers of the film industry.

      The issues facing filmmakers orient around how is the money going to flow.

      Actually, Hollywood upped it’s take this year just as indie film went into a tailspin. It did so largely be concentrating its efforts on fewer, larger releases. That’s a trend you can expect to continue.

      Indies find distribution has become all but impossible to get, prebuys have disappeared, the market is in a full retreat.

      I’m not so sure that it’s easy for audiences to find our content, the marketing push across various media which studios can muster has a considerable multiplier effect. Especially as they focus their efforts on fewer and fewer films. It’s pretty easy to get lost in the noise.

      Indies find themselves now in the position a lot of musicians have been in for the past few years, establishing direct relationships with the audience and trying to sort out just how finance is going to work in this new world. And they will use all the strategies Luci outlines so tightly above.

      The internet has become an enormous factor, changing everything.

      Our audience spends more time now online, goofing or finding free content there. Piracy has become more mainstream, it’s pretty easy to do.

      On the other side, it’s relatively easy to have a direct relationship with your audience, to build up followers by being generous with your content. It’s a lot of work but it’s straightforward,

      There’s also opportunities here for new radically different kinds of work, for finding new niches and hopefully new story forms too. A lot of exciting work is being done looking at transmedia, or projects that work across several forms at once, film, traditional media, online and even real world events.

      What has everyone scratching their heads is just how the money is going to work. How do you finance films in this market? Budgets are collapsing, and that has a huge impact on stories we can tell.

    • Mysterwright

      I agree with Tommi and Luci. People like to have free things when it comes to what they’re watching. Any throwaway promotional item is not only a sweet gesture but they can actually be a viable commodity amongst collectors of film memorabilia. Remember, nobody thought to keep the skeletal models of King Kong or Animation cels of classic cartoons until they started to make money either. The idea is that Hollywood shows it cares about fans. In my father’s day, celebrities like Hopalong Cassidy would show up and tell their manager to leave kids alone because they are who made him a star. A modern homage to this nostalgic idealism began returning during the middle of the 1990’s with independent film franchises like View Askew productions’ releases and Wes Craven’s Scream where all the celebs helped each other out on one another’s projects. However, you ask anyone whose in hollywood now about that era? All they choose to remember is Blair Witch Project. What happened? In a word: Gigli. Silent Bob and Holden McNeal got taken by a female Banky with a big butt. Now all the younger filmmakers have to scramble for getting noticed while females in hollywood spend big money adopting foreign children and un-housetrained lapdogs in bulk.

    • Nick Mendoza

      Luci: I’m intrigued by the opportunities to involve the audience prior to the completion of the film. Mass Animation’s crowdsourcing efforts appear to have been successful in driving film awareness and saving on animation costs. Will major studios invite the audience to contribute in the production process to big-budget flicks?

      David: I’m not surprised and I agree on both your points. I’d also add a third point regarding greater diversity in films – the rising irrelevance of A-list stars in terms of their impact on the box office. Slumdog Millionaire last year and Paranormal Activity this year shed the notion that foreign productions or low-budget films have a limited audience in the US.

      Tommy: There’s plenty of noise and competition when it comes to consumer attention and discovery of indie films. Financing and distribution are difficult even in a good economy, and there’s no doubt that the studios will continue to bank on their franchises and making “safe bets” with plenty of remakes (e.g. The Three Stooges, Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland and RoboCop). Your point about filmmakers being able to build a direct relationship with audiences and being generous with content is key. When Fede Alvarez secured a $30 million film contract from a YouTube video (Panic Attack!) he produced for $300, this signaled the power of being your own distributor to allow the audience to discover your content and share their enthusiasm.

      I’m keeping my eye out for successful transmedia projects – look for a future post on this topic.

    • Luci (and Tommy) are correct, in that we will see more and more indies breaking through, with DIY and social media approaches. Particularly as filmmakers become more and more savvy re: how to do this.

      However, there are SO many options and opportunities out there for filmmakers to secure distribution deals with “traditional” distributors. It is not as dire as so many like to say it is. It’s false, and just another “fear story” about how the sky is falling (or fell). I see filmmakers secure deals all the time with traditional distribs.

      So, with “traditional” deals still viable for the typical indie filmmaker, the question comes down to, is that the best path for one’s movie, or is it DIY? Or is it a hybrid approach of both?

      This depends upon the movie itself, as well as the filmmaker or team behind it. (i.e., Does he/she/they have the stomach and work ethic needed for a total DIY approach — something filmmakers don’t fully understand until knee deep in this route. Or do they have just enough energy left in their journey for partial DIY?)

      Bottom line: This is not a BAD time for indie filmmakers. Rougher at the moment, perhaps, but that’s due to the bad economy, which has affected the entire film industry. It is not due to the “nature” of indie film.

      Jerome Courshon
      The Secrets to Film Distribution

    • One thing that could boost 3d in the cinema is the potential for 3d advertising this could be used in several ways including reducing the price of tickets making it easier for people on a lesser budget to attend this would increase the amount of movie goers and in the long term help the industry stay alive.We also need far more 3d enabled theaters asap this is a major problem being faced if filmakers wish to release a lot of films around the same time then they will all have to fight for that place in the cinema this is going to severly hamper the developmant of movies in the future if it is not corrected.

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