been reading the front page, you know that Hollywood has been considering a variety of
options to firm up box office revenue and thwart the looming threat of piracy.
One of the most controversial is the “premiere” day-and-date release which
would see major blockbusters available for cable PPV purchase prices in the
$30-$50 range on the same day they come out in theaters. With so many eschewing
the increasingly shit theatrical experience for a night at home with the fam
and the 50-inch HDTV/surround sound system they just dropped a few grand for,
studios are desperate to get their hooks back into this most lucrative of
moviegoers. And since a lot of having a pimp home theater is about showing it
off to friends and acquaintances, what could be more “hip” than getting a must-see
title at home where you don’t have to consider going all Hostel on the group of
snotty punks two rows ahead who can’t stop texting for 90 minutes?

The only
question is which title is going to kick off this experiment, and the answer isn’t
that surprising. It appears that Michael
’s Transformers
will claim the mantle. According to techie site, the film will
debut on July 3 on cable PPV for the upper-range price of $49. The story’s
short on details beyond that, so I can’t tell you for sure that it will only be
“cable” PPV, as opposed to PPV across cable and satellite systems. Still,
either scenario would be a groundbreaker, and studios will be watching the
returns and response very closely.
Also watching will be theater execs, who are appropriately scared at being
dealt another blow to their shrinking revenue.

But even
if there are snafus (and the one I’m rooting for is a simple labeling mistake
to result in Transformers: The Movie being shown instead for the first
several thousand orders or so. I believe Justin’s money is on TransAmerica.),
this idea will continue to move forward. All these gatekeepers are more
panicked by the loss of control than any short-term revenue hits. They’ve been
spoiled by nearly a century of being able to dictate how the consumer can buy
content, for what price, and how they will be allowed to enjoy their content.
Now with the Internet as the great equalizer, that horse is long gone, and it’s
going to be a long, messy negotiation between consumers and movie and music
studios as to how things are going to be from here. There’s no magical silver
bullet that will turn back the clock, and as the music industry is learning the
hard way right now, you either get down or lay down.