Last week, Warner Brothers announced that their 2021 lineup of feature first run movies would be released on HBO Max as well as in traditional movie theaters.
This was, at least in theory, a response to Covid 19, which has effectively killed the movie theater business, but as with so many other things, Covid has only accelerated the inevitable.
When television was first invented in the 1940s, movie theater owners were concerned that the new devides would kill their business. They were right, just off by a few years.
As a technology, television had to evolve to the point where it was not just as good at movies, but better.
Now it is.
First came screen size. When I was a kid, I had a GE 12 inch black and white TV set in my bedroom. Good for Forbidden Planet, but nothing comapred to the giant screen in the local movie theater. Today, I have a 52 inch flat screen on the wall of my living room, another in the bedroom, and even these are miniscule compared to the 100 inch screen I can now buy.
Samsung just released The Wall, a 292 inch 8K TV screen. That's a 24 foot TV screen. In your living room (if the room is big enough that is. Come on! That's bigger than the screen used to be at The Paris cinema on West 54th Street, and you don't have to share it with 125 other people.
With such massive screens, there is no longer a need to sig in an uncomfortable chair with your coat piled on your lap, watching a movie and wondering what the hell that sticky stuff on the floor is.
That's good, but for sure, the biggest difference is in a movie theater your a committed to watching whatever movie the theater's owners have decided to run. That's it. Take it or leave it.
Online, you are free to watch whatever you want to watch, whenever you want to watch it.
And then there's the price. My local movie theater, $12.50 for a one time viewing of one movie. HBO? $15 and you get to see as many movies as you like as many times as you like, over and over.
See the difference?
So who in their right mind is going to choose a movie theater over home theater? And the answer is - no one.
Covid or not.
Now, this is all great, so we never have to leave home again and you can lose the sticky floor and $8 bag of crap popcorn or having to balance those nachos on your lap.
But what does this mean for us, the video makers?
Well, a few things, actually.
First, Warner Brothers is going to take a big revenue hit. According to The Verge, the move is going to cost Warner a mind boggling $1.2 billion.
The technology may make this inevitable, but nothing comes for free.
Non linear streamng also means that people will chow through the content much faster -which means that Warner, and ultimately eveeryone else, is going to need a LOT more content and all delivered at a much lower cost.
Which brings us to our iPhones.
Which, as we all know, shoot, edit and do everything else for a LOT less money.
Now, you aren't going to make The Dark Knight with your iPhone, but then again, you aren't going to fill up more than 90 minutes of one evening with The Dark Knight alone, right?
When cable came along, a whole new industry for independent production companies to make stuff like House Hunters or The Real Housewives suddenly arose.
Watch for the same thing here.
The need for good cheap content to fill the black hole of non linear programming has arrived.
Get out your iPhones and start shooting.
It is inevitable.