The website, PaleoFuture, dug up a very interesting article that features a 24-year-old prediction on the future of films by none other than Roger Ebert. Back in 1987, Ebert and late partner, Gene Siskel, were interviewed by Omni Magazine (wow, Omni!) for their June issue. The excerpt:
OMNI: How will the fierce competition between television and the movies work out in the future?
EBERT: We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it. You’ll not go to a video store but instead order a movie on demand and then pay for it. Videocassette tapes as we know them now will be obsolete both for showing prerecorded movies and for recording movies. People will record films on 8mm and will play them back using laser-disk/CD technology.
I also am very, very excited by the fact that before long, alternative films will penetrate the entire country. Today seventy-five percent of the gross from a typical art film in America comes from as few as six —six— different theaters in six different cities. Ninety percent of the American motion-picture marketplace never shows art films. With this revolution in delivery and distribution, anyone, in any size town or hamlet, will see the movies he or she wants to see. It will be the same as it’s always been with books. You can be a hermit and still read any author you choose.
Scratching the whole 8mm thing, that’s some pretty impressive speculation from a guy known primarily for the direction his thumb was situated. Yes, very prescient. But what were these videocassette and video store things he referenced? I’m not sure…