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The future is already here, as well as in the future

When it comes to the relationship between audiences and movies or television programmes, the different sectors in the entertainment industry are split into quite simple divisions.

Firstly, the production – the process of deciding what to make, whom to hire to make it (e.g. scriptwriters, producers, directors, actors, presenters and the technical side – lighting, sound, camera, editing, graphics, special effects and so on) and then the ‘getting it done’.

Secondly, the marketing – the process of taking the finished production to its consumers via distribution deals that necessarily take into account the needs and peculiarities of the different nations, continents and cultures.

Thirdly, the technical means by which the end customer watches the product.

The last of these sometimes appears complex in prospect but in reality they’re relatively straightforward. Originally, before the invention of television, audiences were enticed (of necessity) to watch the movies being made around the world in public cinemas.

The ‘going out to a movie’ experience became a universal human staple for everything from ‘something to do’ to a dating tool, even to a means of communal experience (as in, discussing the relative merits of different movies beside the water dispenser at work).

When television came along, at first the movie theatres seemed un-threatened, simply because the ‘going out for an evening’ habit was so ingrained. But then the technologies change, and so do the habits of human beings.

It gradually became cheaper and simpler – certainly for those who were too young or too old to travel very far – to take advantage of programmes being received in your home, rather than (as an alternative) to have to go out and spend a good deal of money on travel, cinema tickets and popcorn and some drink or another to see a movie ‘in the flesh’.

Once television had taken hold of popular culture, the movie industry had to come up with Technicolor, sensaround sound systems, wide screen, high definition, super high-definition, even ‘the 3D experience’ – simply in the cause of ┬áretaining the cinema audiences.

Someone even came up with the concept of discarding projectors and maybe one day just beaming ‘live’ new movies direct to cinemas all around the globe simultaneously by newly-invented satellite-broadcasting technology.

What could sound better in principle than knowing you were distributing your latest new movie around the world to maybe hundreds of millions of people at the same time?

And then, of course, came the internet. And, indeed, not far behind it – internet piracy. And then attempts to stop it.

And when those kept failing, attempts to harness the commercial aspect another way became imperative as it always does.

Instead of being obstructionist, i.e. threatening, or taking out lawsuits that might be lengthy and costly to conclude – why not embrace the new possibilities provided by the internet and find a new way of making money out of them? After all, ‘if you cannot beat them, join them’ – that old adage seems to work for this walk of life (as it does for so many others).

The truth is, every distributor of entertainment must constantly adapt or die. Do you remember the old ‘Blockbuster’ video-hiring shops that were once on every high street in the land?

You don’t see too many of them these days because the days of video hiring are long gone.

The internet, satellite and cable TV is now where it is at. And one day soon every home will have its own (effective) cinema room, in which all its personal transactions – and indeed all incoming entertainment items – will be viewed on a four-metre screen attached to the wall. Upon request.

Why did anyone ever doubt that all this was coming down the track?

Here’s a link to an article by Roy Carroll on the current plans of global internet giants such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google for the entertainment industry that appears today upon the website of – THE GUARDIAN


About Francesca Shawn

A former arts editor of The Independent, over the years Francesca has written for an innumerable list of UK arts and dance magazines. More Posts