The Theatrical PR Build Up to a New Copyright Act

13 Jan ’07

Michael Geist has been a regular chronicler of developments in Canadian copyright law, and lately he’s been spotting signs that the new media-industry friendly Act that has been expected for months might be just ’round the corner. Today brings another sign – a piece in the Globe (about in-theatre camcording) that bears all of the hallmarks of planted film industry PR.

Theatres won’t be getting much of my money in the future, but not because I’ll be watching camcorded pirate copies. For me, theatres have simply become poor venues for a good movie-watching experience. Inundation with advertising, regularly out-of-focus films, a long drive to a megaplex, poor seating and overpriced victuals – the entire experience has generally become a shambles. Add a large widescreen TV to the family room with surround sound, a little bit of patience and a rented DVD, and you have a recipe for immolation of the theatre business.

This is surprising, because the theatre business has always been pretty good about using product differentiation to stay ahead of the competition from home viewing – by making the theatrical experience special. I’ve seen nothing in the last ten years or so, however, to suggest that the industry is interested in investing in anything other than megaplex real estate. Theatres with state-of-the-art high definition digital projection, reserved seating and a film that starts on time with no advertising (come early for the ads and previews, if you wish) and media-related shopping on premises – that would be a reason to leave the family room. As usual, however, the industry can’t see past piracy to know what ails it, and nothing about the theatrical movie viewing experience is going to change any time soon.

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