Congrats, Jack Valenti. You’ve hit a new level of lunacy.
In case you’re not a film critic or an Oscar voter, this probably doesn’t matter to you, but Valenti seems to have claimed that he has all the major studios in line to stop sending out home video screeners of movies during awards season, claiming that those screeners result in pirated copies of films.
I won’t comment on the narrowsightedness of this move — it’s fully in keeping with the usual knee-jerk Gestapo tactics of the MPAA and (even moreso) the RIAA. But what I will note is that if Valenti gets his way, it will only hasten the demise of the movie theater as we know it. How’s that? Smart studios wanting to push their movies to critics and voters during Oscar season will simply release films earlier in the year, then release them on DVD for real before the end of the year, thus getting around the restriction.
The catch is that the time lag between a theatrical release and a DVD release will shrink considerably. A decade ago, it took a year to get to home video. Only a year ago this lag time was 6 months. Now it varies — as low as 3 or 4 months in many cases and as little as 6 weeks for (the admittedly embarassing) From Justin to Kelly.
2003 is probably too far gone to make much of an impact, but when we look back, I predict 2004 will go down as the year theatrical movie going began to die. Congrats to Mr. Valenti for aiding his industry’s own demise.
The cruel irony of course is that I’ve never actually heard of an Oscar voter or film critic pirating a film. By far the culprits are studio insiders who leak copies of the movies, followed by shaky-cam audience members who record from the screen. Any enterprising soul can find all of this week’s theatrical releases for free on the Internet. It doesn’t take a DVD mailed to your house.