EDITORIAL

Today’s post is partially inspired by an article from HWD (Hollywood Daily) that featured details of a court ruling by a federal Judge in Manhatten which will allow movie studios to own their own theatres.

Here is a snippet of the article:

The Future of Hollywood May Look Like the Past

While many of us weren’t paying attention, a federal judge in Manhattan made a monumental decision—one that could have an enormous effect on the way films are exhibited, once movie theaters across the nation can safely open their doors once more. In fact, the judge was reversing an old ruling, one that had stood since 1948. As Jordan Hoffman explains it: “The ‘Paramount Decrees’ stemmed from a Supreme Court ruling that disallowed movie studios from owning their own theaters. It also ended (or at least curtailed) the practice of ‘block booking,’ in which a studio could force titles of less interest onto theaters if they also wanted something that was a more surefire hit.” In short: This reversal may pave the way for a future in which movie studios once again own movie theaters, creating old-school entertainment monopolies. Who said the studio system was dead?

Apparently, this used to be something that happened before 1948 and it was disallowed because it gave movie studios too much power over the movies released in theatres. From a business perspective, I can imagine this would be extremely beneficial for the movie studios and anyone on that side of the business.

But I am a lover of film, a critic and a consumer and this type of control to me sounds like it’s not going to be very good for us (being the people that watch and enjoy movies).

In my country (New Zealand) we don’t have many entertainment “chains” where this sort of thing could be avoided. In New Zealand, we only have two major entertainment chains which are Event Cinemas and Hoyts. So if my understanding of this ruling is correct, it means that the smaller, lesser-known titles that would normally not get a theatrical release could have one if the studio owned the movie theatre complexes outright. While that might sound like a good thing for consumers, it sounds to me like our choices as to what type of film we want to see might be seriously impacted.

Not that we have any issues with smaller titles getting some well-deserved interest from the consumer market. I am totally for that but not if it means our choices as consumers might end up on the cutting room floor. How will this impact blockbuster titles that are confirmed to be released at cinema complexes? It just might if there are no theatres available to release these films. I don’t know how that could be an issue in bigger countries but in my country, that could be a possibility.

If you were born before 1948, you might be able to recall how it was when movie studios owned the theatres. But in my lifetime, it has never been a thing and I suspect it’s the same for a vast majority of the consumer market today.

What do you think about this? Do you see it as a potential issue going forward for film-lovers? Or do you think that with all the streaming services available today and in the near future, something like this won’t matter? Let me know in the comments!

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