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April 29, 2004

Is the Movie Industry Learning? [7:56 am]

While the movie industry is certainly guilty of excesses in their move toward the DVD, including the endless re-release of variants of popular films, there also are indications that they are giving serious thought to improving the value proposition through the use of the medium’s features (something that the record industry never seems to have managed, or even tried, with the CD format). See, for example, Lots of Bells and Whistles (DVD Included)

With DVD releases of movies becoming as competitive as traditional theatrical releases for viewer dollars, Hollywood producers say they are increasingly looking to eye-popping technologies to make their DVD’s stand out.

“There are certain expectations the market has now,” said Steve Beeks, the president of Lions Gate Entertainment. “The most popular are alternative endings and deleted scenes, stuff you would not originally see in the film.”

But even those features have become commonplace extras on DVD’s. So when Lions Gate was preparing for the release last week of its surfing documentary “Step Into Liquid,” it created a two-DVD set that included not only the film, directed by Dana Brown, but also a previously released video game, Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer, on one of the movie discs.

[...] What’s more, the combined DVD and video game is selling for a suggested price of $25; the game alone, published last fall, is $30 at Aspyr’s Web site.

Karim Farghaly, director of strategic sales for Aspyr, said the advantage for the game maker was exposure to a different group of buyers, and a potential second life for the game. “We saw a very good opportunity in terms of extending our market reach,” he said. “We didn’t see any cannibalization in people actually buying the DVD instead of the game itself. They are two different markets.”

An added attraction of the DVD, a format with far greater space than the two CD-ROM’s on which the game alone is sold, is that it allows the game’s graphics to be enhanced, Mr. Farghaly said.

[...] Responding to many of the same competitive forces, New Line Home Entertainment has developed a series of DVD’s called Infinifilm that feature a number of viewer-driven video extras. The line will grow to 10 when versions of “The Butterfly Effect” and “Elf” are released later this year, said Mike Mulvihill, vice president for content development at New Line.

New Line, which is credited with creating “Easter eggs” - video features hidden on DVD’s, like the images furtively placed in some video games - maintains that it is important to offer the consumer more than a movie.

[...] “The concern is, in the future, will DVD’s be relevant?” Mr. Goodman said. The answer, he said, will depend on “making DVD’s more than just the experience of viewing movies.”

In a related article, see a discussion of the developing blue laser standards fight: Dueling Visions of a High-Definition DVD

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