Seems like the movie studios are about to get back some legal flexibility, er muscle, that was stripped from them in the 1950s.
Some are saying it’s not a question of what if, but when and how soon before the current movie theater environment will be impacted.
We’re talking about legal mumbo jumbo called the Paramount Consent, which allowed studios — with less red tape — to own their own theaters, have more ability to control and dictate minimum ticket pricing and group movies together upon release (force theaters to show duds if they want to show more prominent titles).
Why would the United States government roll back these changes that were put in place after a win in the courts against Paramount in 1948?
They say the laws are obsolete in the current environment.
It’s true times have changed. We have the internet and streaming in 2019. In 1950 most people didn’t even own one television, much less a color TV set. The internet wasn’t even a wet dream.
No Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple … yeah, the technology world was non-existent.
We shouldn’t be too panicked as moviegoers, yet, because there will be a two year sunset provision before these laws are fully rolled back.
The one shred of hope came when Delrahim explained that “antitrust enforcers remain ready to act” if studios begin engaging in behavior that harms consumers, but wiping these decrees off the books unquestionably gives studios huge freedoms to establish more dominance across the industry. I hate to be fatalistic, but if antitrust enforcers are our last line of defense against corporate greed, the future of an already dwindling industry could be more dire than ever.Paramount Conset Decrees to Be Overturned, Altering Moviegoing – /Film
Forgive my rolled eyes for trusting government intervention.
The studios are already reeling over their own competitive environment. Disney is locking up more titles in their vault perhaps planning to release them on their own streaming service (Disney+!).
Several articles are decrying that this will most negatively impact the small, independent theater chains who may soon have an even more difficult time getting first run movies to show.
This is difficult with the laws in place now.
At a time when the average moviegoer sees 3-4 movies in theaters a year, I don’t see this rollback — yet — as the end of the world. Maybe it will create more competition among the big three theater chains (AMC, Regal and Cinemark). Let’s not forget that these industry titans were investigated for possible anti-trust violations five years ago over clearances:
…the Department of Justice will be looking to determine whether or not the three major movie chains are unfairly using their positions in collection with the film industry to prevent smaller and/or independent chains from receiving the all-important first run movies. Interviews with executives from these smaller chains in multiple states are already being carried out, and more are scheduled for the future.3 Major Movie Theater Chains Under Investigation For Possible Antitrust Violations
The plot thickens.
Any positive outlook? Yes, maybe Netflix and Amazon will buy their own theaters and finally be able to show their own original movies like The Irishman without having to honor the 90-day theatrical window.
Business, Time and Technology Will Be The Answer
Nobody has the answer to how, if and/or when this will impact moviegoers. My 50+ year life experience tells me that business environment is dictated most by where people spend money.
Follow the money.
I’m spending more money at theaters now than ever before thanks to an unlimited movie plan from a big theater chain that didn’t exist six months ago.
Thanks to a disruptive technology startup (Moviepass, now defunct), not some dust-ridden law protecting me from big, bad corporate greed..