On-Demand Culture

On-Demand Culture: Digital Delivery and the Future of Movies

CHUCK TRYON
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjcmk
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  • Book Info
    On-Demand Culture
    Book Description:

    The movie industry is changing rapidly, due in part to the adoption of digital technologies. Distributors now send films to theaters electronically. Consumers can purchase or rent movies instantly online and then watch them on their high-definition televisions, their laptops, or even their cell phones. Meanwhile, social media technologies allow independent filmmakers to raise money and sell their movies directly to the public. All of these changes contribute to an "on-demand culture," a shift that is radically altering film culture and contributing to a much more personalized viewing experience.Chuck Tryon offers a compelling introduction to a world in which movies have become digital files. He navigates the complexities of digital delivery to show how new modes of access-online streaming services like YouTube or Netflix, digital downloads at iTunes, the popular Redbox DVD kiosks in grocery stores, and movie theaters offering digital projection of such 3-D movies as Avatar-are redefining how audiences obtain and consume motion picture entertainment. Tryon also tracks the reinvention of independent movies and film festivals by enterprising artists who have built their own fundraising and distribution models online.Unique in its focus on the effects of digital technologies on movie distribution,On-Demand Cultureoffers a corrective to address the rapid changes in the film industry now that movies are available at the click of a button.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-6111-0
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. ii-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. INTRODUCTION: ON-DEMAND CULTURE; Digital Distribution and the Future of Cinema
    (pp. 1-17)

    In May 2012 comedian Mark Malkoff embarked on an unusual challenge when he sought to watch as many Netflix streaming movies as possible over the course of a single month. Reasoning that he wanted to get the best value possible for his $7.99 per month subscription, Malkoff managed to watch 252 movies—approximately eight per day—bringing his cost per film to an impressively low three cents per day. Malkoff’s well-publicized stunt, which was happily embraced by Netflix, served as unofficial advertising for the company, especially when Malkoff touted the wide selection of movie titles. In interviews, Malkoff emphasized that...

  5. 1 COMING SOON TO A COMPUTER NEAR YOU: Digital Delivery and Ubiquitous Entertainment
    (pp. 18-40)

    In an interview discussing the closure of all of the Blockbuster Video stores in Canada, Kaan Yigit, president of Solutions Research Group, commented that “this is the Netflix decade for movies. Kids growing up will hardly ever know there was a time you actually went to a store to get a movie.”¹ Yigit’s comments underscored the perceived mobility of movies and television shows across a variety of platforms and devices, a shift that seemed to make trips to the video store unnecessary. These changes in film distribution—formerly associated with physical copies of DVDs sold at big-box retailers or rented...

  6. 2 RESTRICTING AND RESISTANT MOBILITIES: Negotiating Digital Delivery
    (pp. 41-57)

    This chapter offers a more extended exploration of the issues related to the practices and the business of digital delivery. It starts with the observation that, despite the promises of digital utopians, on-demand culture is characterized not by universal access but by the process of limiting and restricting when and where content is available. Thus, although a number of film critics and cultural observers have fantasized about the possibility of a “celestial multiplex,” most online collections are incomplete, providing users with only partial catalogs that are subject to frequent change. This sense of incompleteness is exacerbated by ongoing conflicts over...

  7. 3 “MAKE ANY ROOM YOUR TV ROOM”: Digital Delivery and Media Mobility
    (pp. 58-75)

    In March 2011, Time Warner Cable launched an iPad application that would allow subscribers to stream some of their television content to their iPad, a total of approximately thirty cable channels, as long as they were connected to a Time Warner wireless router associated with a cable account. Like other digital delivery platforms, the app was announced as a transformative way of watching television and movies. The advertisement promoting the launch, “Make Any Room Your TV Room,” consists of a series of quick cuts between various tablet computer users holding or watching the tablet at arm’s length in various rooms...

  8. 4 BREAKING THROUGH THE SCREEN: 3D, Avatar, and the Future of Moviegoing
    (pp. 76-96)

    At showest 2005, one of the pre-eminent trade conventions for the motion picture industry,AvatarandTitanicdirector James Cameron, in cooperation with Texas Instruments, sought to promote the emerging format of digital projection in theaters. At the time, theater owners were reluctant to change over, given that conversion costs were estimated at $100,000 per screen. However, Cameron argued that digital projection could help to launch a transformation in film spectacle through the use of digital 3D, which would, in turn, bring audiences back to movie theaters by providing them with an unprecedented visual experience. In his typical visionary language,...

  9. 5 REDBOX VS. RED ENVELOPE, OR CLOSING THE WINDOW ON THE BRICKS-AND-MORTAR VIDEO STORE
    (pp. 97-116)

    The digital delivery of movies seems to democratize access to a wide array of movies, but it also threatens to disrupt some of the traditional ways in which studios have been able to produce revenue, especially after a film leaves movie theaters. Specifically, the persistent availability of movies in streaming catalogs lessens consumers’ need to buy a copy of a film and, in turn, decreases the value of that title. The popularity of Netflix—U.S. subscribers watched an average of eighty minutes per night, far more than even the most popular cable network—showed that users had embraced the convenience...

  10. 6 THE TWITTER EFFECT: Social Media and Digital Delivery
    (pp. 117-135)

    Even as digital delivery made it possible to access movies on demand, movie fans faced the challenge of navigating the different platforms where content was available. At the same time, consumers were introduced to the notion of more personalized and fragmentary media experiences. Rather than promoting the idea of watching collectively, platform mobility seemed to offer the ability to identify and watch movies and television shows that fit an individual’s singular interests. However, movie and television watching continue to be defined as social activities to be shared with friends and family or, in the case of movie theaters, a wider...

  11. 7 INDIE 2.0: Digital Delivery, Crowdsourcing, and Social Media
    (pp. 136-154)

    At the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, prolific indie filmmaker Kevin Smith announced that he would be holding an “auction” for his latest movie,Red State, a low-budget horror film that satirized the homophobic and publicity-hungry Westboro Baptist Church, survivalist groups, and media sensationalism, among other targets. Eager for a scoop, members of the entertainment press packed into the theater, awaiting the kind of bidding war that had been commonplace at past festivals. However, rather than holding the promised auction, Smith immediately “sold” the film to himself for $20 before proceeding to offer an elaborate lecture on the ways in which...

  12. 8 REINVENTING FESTIVALS: Curation, Distribution, and the Creation of Global Cinephilia
    (pp. 155-172)

    In July 2010 stalwart directors Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald engaged in what was billed as “a historic cinematic experiment” when they invited YouTube users to submit video footage for a planned two-hour documentary entitledLife in a Day. The filmmakers stipulated only that the footage had to be recorded on July 24 (which, when delivered in shorthand, appeared as 24/7) and submitted to theLife in a DayYouTube page no later than July 31. Scott and Macdonald would then select footage to be compiled into a feature- length film, one that would draw on YouTube’s worldwide reach to...

  13. CONCLUSION: DIGITAL FUTURES
    (pp. 173-180)

    Digital delivery not only affects the economic models of the movie industry but also promotes an on-demand culture, in which the practices of moviegoing and the perceptions of media culture are transformed. Movie viewers are now re-imagined as individualized and mobile, able to watch practically anywhere or anytime they wish, while having access to aspects of film culture—such as film festivals and art-house movies—that have in the past been available only in specific locations. In this sense, platform mobility seems to be an extension of models of active spectatorship that have informed both media scholarship and industry discourse....

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 181-205)
  15. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 207-212)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 213-218)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-219)