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Movie Industry Blames Texting for Bad Box Office 1197

Posted by michael
from the buying-your-gross dept.
cybercuzco writes "The movie industry is blaming poor sales of such movies as Gigli, The Hulk and Charlies Angels not on the fact that they were poor quality, but because people text message other people telling them that the movie stinks. Industry executives say that this undermines a carefully crafted marketing image. Expect texting to be banned by the MPAA in the near future."
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Movie Industry Blames Texting for Bad Box Office

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  • by tlacicer (515153) * on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:07PM (#6737470)
    This article made me laugh more then Mario Cantone on the Denis Leary
    roast. Who thinks this stuff? Colin Quinn should get this writer on the
    payroll for tough crowd.
  • by ryan76 (666210) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:08PM (#6737479)
    So they are saying that communication is the reason for movie's failure? They should get rid of free speech.
    • by bad_fx (493443) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:12PM (#6737568) Journal
      Hey, that's probably a lot easier than getting rid of bad movies. :)
    • by BWJones (18351) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:17PM (#6737646) Homepage Journal
      So they are saying that communication is the reason for movie's failure? They should get rid of free speech.

      Not only communication, but they are blaming the free market. In other words, consumers are voting with their dollars and when their friends and critics say the show stinks, they spend their $$'s elsewhere. Lesson? Make decent movies and people (who think for themselves) will go see them.

    • by Forgotten (225254) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:23PM (#6737748)
      Essentially, yeah. Open diffuse communication is clearly at odds with centrally coordinated marketing. It's not just true of movie studios, but of all advertising. Even if one were making actual claims about a product it would be muddied by random comments from the peanut gallery (read: you and me). Since real advertising hasn't contained those sorts of claims for years, instead relying on embodiments of lifestyle or similar nebulous glop, real information can only be an unwelcome competitor. It's easy to see how defamation laws might be adapted to prevent people from making comments that contradict the expensive marketing line (which those same people paid for). Indeed this has already happened in some cases, as with SLAPP.

      Advertising is the enemy of information and communication. In a world ruled through corporate centralisation, censorship is a logical extension of that fact.
      • by Pharmboy (216950) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @06:09PM (#6738446) Journal
        Advertising is the enemy of information and communication. In a world ruled through corporate centralisation, censorship is a logical extension of that fact.

        I have spent many years in the marketing biz, and you do have a point. My job is to push the buttons necessary to get customers to buy. Its not my job to give a 100% accurate description of the product so the consumer can decide. This is balanced with the fact that I MUST be factual in how I describe. (really)

        This is why colas sell 'image' instead of 'this cola tastes good', for instance. Its called 'selling the sizzle, not the steak', and is pretty much 101 in marketing. If I am selling winter coats, for instance, I don't show you how warm you will be, I show you how good you might look, how others are impressed with your good taste in clothes, and maybe, just maybe, girls will flock to you because you are now so cool. I didn't say anything about how warm it makes you, so if the wind cuts through it like a hot knife through butter, then I have not lied.

        BTW, its good to have a healthy disrespect for your own industry (which I do) but it is the CONSUMER'S job to make sure its the right product for them. So yes, a company that makes bad 'coats' doesn't want anyone to know that. The problem is, the MPAA's head is too big for its own good, and they seem to blame the people who bought their product and discovered it sucked and it hasn't lived up to their expectations. The customer is the problem, and their text messaging is clearly interfering with their marketing, so they blame (and virtually lash out) against them. This is the SCO way of doing things.

        Personally, I don't worry about it too much. The MPAA seems perfectly capable of shooting themselves in the foot, and as long as they blame the sorry customers for not enjoying the movie, then they are sealing their own fate. Fortunately, movies are a very profitable industry, and I have high hopes that some studios will work to fill the void, so this lull in movie quality won't last forever. Meanwhile, this blame game serves to reduce the influence of the MPAA with the public, creating more resentment. With high bandwidth, faster computers, new software and P2P as strong as ever, they make it more likely that people will steal movies rather than buy them, because they feel no sorrow for anything related to the MPAA.
    • by Shoten (260439) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:24PM (#6737772)
      No, no, no, that couldn't be it. It must be something about the wireless gateways that translate between SMTP and SMS. For some unknown reason, the phrase
      "stunning performances by both Affleck and Lopez and masterful direction bring forth an epic of a quality not seen since 'Doctor Zhivago'"
      gets hashed into
      "Christ, I hope these two fuckwits don't breed, this movie blows dead monkeys!"

    • by MrLint (519792) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:26PM (#6737796) Journal
      The MPAA is trying to get a bill passed that will let it DDoS SMS systems when they sense a bad review of a movie.
    • by KU_Fletch (678324) <bthomas1@kuTOKYO.edu minus city> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:29PM (#6737848)
      I can just imagine it. Buy your ticket for 9 bucks and then sign a non-disclosure agreement before viewing. Anybody found violating said agreement will be forced to work craft services for J-Lo's next movie.
    • by FreeUser (11483) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:33PM (#6737908)
      So they are saying that communication is the reason for movie's failure? They should get rid of free speech.

      You say that as a joke, but it is important to keep in mind that
      • copyright is the only thing in the constitution that is explicitly allowed to trump freedom of the press (i.e. freedom of speech).
        Copyright was originally instituted as a means for the British Crown to censor the printing press, a new technology (at that time) which they felt threatened by.
      • Copyright was later "reformed" in the Statute of Anne to give authors rights theoretically equal to those of the (by then) entrenched publishing cartel. This is the point in history that copyright advocates will try to pass off as the "beginning" of copyright, ignoring its much darker, earlier past, and the original reason for its inception: censorship.
      • That same publishing cartel ignored the statute and fought it in the courts for nearly a century thereafter, before the highest court ruled they had to respect author's rights and pay to publish their works.
      • It was this form of copyright that was encoded into the US constitution, with a significant change: said copyright was intended to be for a limited time, indeed, it was the intention of the founding fathers that it be a very limited time: originally 14 years plus an option to extend for another 14 years if the author was still living.
      • Copyright, even in its original form, was hardly benign. Under the guise of insuring that authors and publishers receive compensation (since when is a government mandated monopoly a requirement for one to get compensation?), information in the age of the printing press was quite stringently controlled, both in the British empire and, within a generation after the ratification of the US constitution, in the United States.
      • Copyright in its original form only applied to books. It's purview was then extended dramatically to include
        • cartography (maps)
        • sheet music
        • player piano music encodings
        • grammophone and other recordings
        • photographs
        • moving pictures
        • executable instructions (software)
      • Copyright was also extended numerous times in duration, now reaching life+70 years for individuals and 90 years for works-for-hire, with no end in sight now that the supreme court has ruled that retroactive extentions are now "constitutional", despite the obvious conflict that entails with the constitutions own requirement that terms be of limited length.
      • In addition, government has extended copyright's authority, making it a criminal offense for the first time in this nation's 200 year history, giving individual copyright cartels and corporations police and judicial powers to issue subpeonas and have people arrested, and banning certain creative works and expressions outright (anything that can be construed to circumvent a copy restriction scheme, which includes haiku poems describing how to decrypt DVDs for playback on Linux systems).
      • The DMCA allows web sites and persons to be silenced as a result of mere allegations of copyright violation, with no due process, no trial, no conviction, no proof required, and no opportunity for appeal. Copyright has come full circle, returning to its origins as the primary means of modern day censorship.

      The domain, authority, and severity of copyright have grown and grown repeatedly throughout our history, as the tiny minority of people it benefits and the cartels they have formed demand greater privileges and greater profits. It is the only provision in the constitution that trumps freedom of expression and the press. Each time it grows, your freedom of speech shrinks by a corresponding amount (at least). Now that communicating certain information that can be construed as circumventing copy protection (this could, BTW, include memorization of certain inf

      • by DavidBrown (177261) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @07:20PM (#6739113) Journal
        You know, I may be a bit off-topic here, but your discussion of the historical basis of copyright reminded me of something.

        I was having dinner outside at a restaurant across the alleyway from an Irish pub (in Sonoma, CA). There was a band at the pub. At one point in the evening they played "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". Only it wasn't the hymn. I was corrected by my friend, Susan, who's from Ireland, and who explained to me that the tune to the hymm was lifted from an Irish song.

        I already knew that we stole the music to the Star Spangled Banner (an English pub song), America the Beautiful (God Save the Queen), and When Johnny Comes Marching Home (an anti-war English song). But the Battle Hymn of the Republic? That's beyond the pale.

        My god, this nation was created on the basis of violations of copyright!

    • RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by siskbc (598067) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:35PM (#6737935) Homepage
      So they are saying that communication is the reason for movie's failure?

      Yes, they are, and they're probably right.

      They should get rid of free speech.

      I know that the **AA is just below SCO and M$ on the list of most hated groups around here, but they never advocated anything of the time - it was simply a guy making an observation that their marketing schemes aren't as effective as they used to be. Nothing more. So perhaps we can wait to let loose with our anti-**AA tirades until they do something ro really deserve it. At their rate, that should require approximately three /. stories from now.

      • Re:RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

        by Mattcelt (454751) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:55PM (#6738233)
        but they never advocated anything of the time - it was simply a guy making an observation

        Well, if they weren't on record [slashdot.org] already trying [slashdot.org] to limit [slashdot.org] or take away [slashdot.org] our freedoms [slashdot.org], rights, [slashdot.org] and liberties, [slashdot.org] I think the /. community would be a little bit kinder.

        Don't you?

        Oh, and here [slashdot.org] are a couple of extras [slashdot.org] for [slashdot.org]
        good measure.

        • by siskbc (598067) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @06:14PM (#6738507) Homepage
          Well, if they weren't on record already trying to limit or take away our freedoms , rights, and liberties, I think the /. community would be a little bit kinder.

          Obviously, which I granted in my original post. But what we need to understand is 1) they could give two shits if the /. community is kind to them, and 2) the general geek lobby doesn't gain any credibility by turning any story about movies or music into a personal rights debate.

          And that's what it comes down to. You have 20,000 flaming idiots on this site who don't read the actual article, reading instead the inflammatory titles posted by (invariably) michael. From this they garner that the industry is certainly attempting to steal their rights to text message someone, when this is preposterous and false.

          The actual situation is that some poor exec is wishing for the good old days when they could make money of a shitty movie by promo'ing it. That's all. His job is to make money - his job is now harder. Allowing the poor bastard to be wistful for a moment without calling him a Nazi wouldn't kill us, would it?

          Bottom line is I stand by my original point - save the flaming and foaming at the mouth for when something actually happens, stop crying "wolf"/"chicken little," and wait until something actually happens to bitch about the **AA. Or at least until the next SCO story.

          And no, I don't need more **AA links. I read them when they come out. I'm no **AA fan (particularly Jack Valenti), but a little objectivity wouldn't kill us as a whole.

  • Hrrmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by mao che minh (611166) * on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:08PM (#6737480) Journal
    So, earning $131,164,155 in the United States alone [the-numbers.com] and breaking sales records [nwsource.com] is considered poor sales? Incredible. =)
    • Re:Hrrmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Uruk (4907) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:18PM (#6737665)
      It's all relative man. Take a look at the Hulk movie which you used as an example - about $131 million in earnings, on a production budget of $120 million. That's $11 million in profits, or about 9% return. Compared to a lot of successful movies, a 9% return is not all that great. By comparison, I think the stock market's annual return is something like 8%.

      Sure, they're breaking sales records, but interest and population are usually growing. That means that if they weren't becoming more efficient or better in their business, with the passage of time you'd expect them to break sales records anyway. For example, look at the number of admissions on blockbusters from 15-20 years ago and today. The disparity is ridiculous.

      The movie business is just that - a business. Given their perspective on things (cold hard capitalism) sometimes the things that they do and say can seem strange. (I can imagine a plausible announcement: Microsoft is *disappointed* that they only made a couple of billion during sales period X. Relatively, that's lousy)

      • Re:Hrrmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

        by aSiTiC (519647) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:49PM (#6738136) Homepage
        ``Take a look at the Hulk movie which you used as an example - about $131 million in earnings, on a production budget of $120 million. That's $11 million in profits, or about 9% return.''

        This is another example of how the MPAA will not evolve/adjust to the new communications/internet world. Why are the paying in excess of $20 million for stars that are overpaid, overqualify media whores (i.e. Gigli stars)???

        And don't tell me there are not perfect examples of this already working out there! What about Big Fat Greek Wedding, Bend It Like Beckham, and my personal favorite this year 28 Days Later. Made on a budjet of $8.7 million with previously unheard of actors AND with digital cameras! Not to mention actually paying a little extra for a good script from a good writer (Alex Garland).

        In fact one studio is already doing just what I have said so maybe they are learning: Strategy of FOX Searchlight [nymetro.com]

  • News Flash (Score:5, Funny)

    by gurutechanimal (629949) <atheist_gospelNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:08PM (#6737482) Homepage
    Word of Mouth Ruled Illegal - Film at 11
    • by Uruk (4907) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:23PM (#6737749)
      Strike "Word of Mouth Ruled Illegal", I have another suggestion:

      Slander/Libel law broadened to include "negative and harmful" speech towards economic activity.

      I personally know a guy who was successfully sued for posting a negative opinion of one company's products in a forum devoted to discussion of products in a particular hobby area. (In his case, outdoor water gardens)

  • Okay.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by X86Daddy (446356) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:09PM (#6737489) Journal
    Where's the foot icon?
    • Re:Okay.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bad_fx (493443) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:18PM (#6737657) Journal
      Heh, damn straight. I was laughing my ass off with pearlers like:

      "Five years ago, when summer movies were arguably just as bad as they are now..."

      and

      "No, the executives are not blaming such bombs as The Hulk, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle or Gigli on poor quality, lack of originality, or general failure to entertain. There's absolutely nothing new about that."

      Though I think for these executives a foot-in-mouth icon might serve better.
  • The Movie Stinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harryman100 (631145) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:09PM (#6737495) Homepage
    Surely if the movie wasn't crap, people wouldn't send text messages saying it was.

    The solution is to create good movies.

    Hmm
    • by NivenHuH (579871) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:15PM (#6737610) Homepage
      Where is Jay Sherman when you need him.. *sigh*
    • by josh_freeman (114671) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:28PM (#6737829)

      Maybe I'm just getting more discerning in my old age, but there has been a noticeable decline in film quality. Most of the huge summer blockbusters that I have seen in the last several years can be described as "What the !@#$ was the director smoking?!?!?!?!?!?"

      Personally, I blame it all on CGI. What is has made films too easy to produce. Star Wars: A New Hope was brilliant, because Lucas had to tell a story. He couldn't rely on computer-generated anthropomorphic creatures to move the story along, or more importantly, to move overpriced tie-in merchandise of the shelves. Once the barrier for entry was removed, and just about anyone who could get financing could afford spectacular effects, that became the standard and the whole idea of telling a story was lost.

      Films are nothing more than glorified story telling. Once they become a showcase for someone's l33t programming skillz, they are irrelevant

      • Re:The Movie Stinks (Score:5, Interesting)

        by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:51PM (#6738159) Homepage
        Nice try.

        The best movie of the season was almost certainly Finding Nemo, which was 100% CGI.

        The worst movie of the season was almost certainly Gigli, which I don't think had any CGI at all.

        Oops!

        D

        • by Kibo (256105) <naw#gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @06:09PM (#6738434) Homepage
          I think he acctually comes close to the mark without knowing it though.

          What made movies great, were the limitations, and the cleverness that had to be employed to tell the story inspite of those. In the case of movies made today, with the capabilities of computer graphics, the limit is really, cycles, money and imagination. If you've got the coin, then if you can think it, you can see it. With all that choice, it's easy to lose sight of the real aim, telling the story. The crappy animatronic shark in jaws, and its notorious unreliablity being one example. A swift look at the Star Wars prequel making of features makes this painfully appearent. (Not that Lucas has any ability at all to tell a decent story anymore) But look at all the time, money and effort manipulating crap in the computer that not only added nothing in any way to the story, not only would have certainly gone unnoticed even by people who were in the movie, but could have just been done right the first time anyway.

          It probably takes a person with a very special talent for clarity to helm a big budget movie now days. To see their story, and find there way to it undistracted by the innumerable possibilities.
      • Re:The Movie Stinks (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Walter Wart (181556) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @06:21PM (#6738574) Homepage
        That's certainly part of it. We are still at the stage where people expect us to go "ooh" and "aah" at the Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz and to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

        This hope may not be justified. A generation ago the first three Star Wars movies did spectacularly well on the strength of the special effects and CGI. It certainly wasn't the acting (which was barely adequate), the story (which was trite and hackneyed) or anything else of the sort. It was that George Lucas could put his personal vision on the screen exactly as he imagined it.

        Close to thirty years later he is still doing that. But the movies aren't making the same kind of money because people are used to the pretty lights. Once they see past them it is apparent that Lucas really isn't a very good story teller.

        I use him merely as an object lesson. Jurassic Park 2-3, Godzilla, and any number of other computer generated turkeys would do just as well.

        CGI has been the death of special effects wizardry. If you can imagine it, you can put it on the screen by throwing enough computers at it. In earlier times you had to think about how to do the special effects. And audiences could still be surprised and amazed when a particularly clever effect or dramatic stunt worked.

        I am reminded of an earlier technical revolution - the movie camera. Acting in front of an audience is a completely different skill than doing it in front of a camera. In live theater there is a conversation of sorts between the cast and the audience. The actors gain or lose energy from this interaction, and the performances are never exactly the same twice except for long-running statistical outliers like "The King and I". In movies everything is done and redone until it is exactly how the director wants it. The audience is, quite literally, out of the picture.

        The ability to sustain acting skills and character is less important these days than "star quality". In fact, being too good an actor is a detriment because people will forget that they are seeing fill in name of starlet or c**t-throb of the moment and believe they are seeing the actual character.

        Shadow of the Vampire had a couple really good lines along this line. The lead actress tells how she gains life and vitality from an audience but "this [the camera] sucks the life from me".

        CGIfying everything simply continues the process of removing life and acting from, well, acting
    • by Khomar (529552) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:40PM (#6738029) Journal

      The solution is to create good movies.

      Amen.

      <rant>

      Personally, I feel insulted by the statement "a carefully crafted marketing image." Say it like it is: a carefully crafted lie to sucker people to give them money for an inferior product. Perhaps we the consumer should start demanding refunds on movies that failed to live up to the advertising like in other industries.

      It amazes me that they are even bothering to complain. It is not that much different than spoiled, fabulously wealthy baseball players going on strike when the average salary is $1.8 million dollars. Who are these people trying to kid? There is a reason why I am feeling more and more inclined to see fewer movies each year (and this coming from a former movie addict). I want quality for my money, and whether it is text messages, Internet critic sites, or talking to my friends on the phone, I will not allow their slick, deceptive marketing machine dictate what I will or will not watch (also the reason why I no longer watch TV). I will make an informed decision and spend my money and time pursuing something that may actually have value. If that means that the movie executives aren't able to buy that fifth mansion up in Paradise Valley, Montana, so be it. I certainly won't be losing any sleep over it.

      </rant>

      There. I feel so much better now...

    • by Nucleon500 (628631) <tcfelker@example.com> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @07:10PM (#6739038) Homepage
      You're unfamiliar with corporate logic. This branch of thought stems from the self-evident truth that one is entitled to increasing profits. This axiom supercedes laws of supply and demand, copyright law and theory, basic human rights, and many other equally false conjectures.

      For example, suppose you sell overpriced and unoriginal music. Suddenly it's easy to copy and distribute music, so sales lag. The solution? Under the "old" logic, you would improve the quality (both artistic quality and media convenience) and reduce the price. The new logic, on the other hand, dictates that you should lower the your product's quality and ease of use, and that you should sue your customers. This is justified, because you have a right to a bigger profit than last year.

      Suppose you are a Unix vendor whose product sucks. You try to catch the Linux bandwagon, but you have nothing to offer, and your company is on the verge of bankruptcy. Under the old logic, you would diversify your business away from proprietary Unix, using your name to sell services. But remember, your rights have been taken away! You cannot sit idly by; you must inflate your stock with insane claims about your competitors, annoy large companies, and completely destroy your name. The courts, the media, and the investors are your friends, and you must trust they will return to you your much-deserved profits.

      Now that you know more about the logic that runs the world, you can understand the ideal course of action for the MPAA. Do you succumb to the outmoded free market theories, improve your products, and stop saturating the market with overhyped films? No! You should lash out against free speech, a discredited idea which has been pirating your profits for far too long.

  • by Plix (204304) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:09PM (#6737507) Homepage
    Coke retroactively blames the touch-tone phone for poor sales of the New Coke.
  • This is grand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:10PM (#6737518) Homepage
    "In the old days, there used to be a term, 'buying your gross,' " Rick Sands, chief operating officer at Miramax, told the Los Angeles Times. "You could buy your gross for the weekend and overcome bad word of mouth, because it took time to filter out into the general audience."

    Here, eat some of this shit. Don't tell anyone that it tastes like... well, shit. Our business model, you ask? As follows:

    1. Produce crap.
    2. Hope enough suckers buy it before it's categorized as crap.
    3. Profit!!!
    Yes, I think we just figured out step #2. Impressive!

    This is just pathetic. I think it's even worse than the telephone marketers complaining about how they're livelyhood is gone because they can't piss people off whenever they want to.

    Oh yeah, this "industry" is going down the drain faster than I thought. I hope it dies a fast, painful death, along with the music "industry".

  • This is new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Christopher Thomas (11717) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:10PM (#6737520)
    So, text-messaging allows people to spread the word about a bad movie too fast?

    As opposed to, oh, checking the Tomatometer at or before the day of release? Or reading reviews you trust? Or just making a _phone call_ to your friends instead of texting them?

    Text messaging is an incremental improvement in our communications ability, not a revolution.
    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:23PM (#6737762) Journal
      You, sir, are in violation of the DMCA, as you have just discussed methods to bypass the movie industries security procedures. They have pumped millions of dollars into our nation's economy in order to prove that their movies are worth watching. You are advocating that people use free resources in order to determine the quality of movies for themselves, which bypasses the movie industry's security procedure of bald-faced lies, and contributes nothing to the national economy. You are obviously a terrorist and a communist. Expect to hear from our hired goons shortly.
  • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:10PM (#6737522) Homepage
    But those days are over, because the technology of hand-held text-message devices has drastically cut down the time it takes for movie-goers to tell their friends that a heavily promoted summer action movie is a waste of time and money.

    I suppose this has SOME bearing on the spread of word of mouth, but I can certainly guarantee that here in the US that text messaging is not as prevelant is the cell phone companies would like (this article is from a .co.uk site so I assume they are talking about Europe?) I guess that instant messenger (a massive communication medium for most people under the age of 26) is having something to do with it (and I guess the ability of AOL's AIM to forward those messages straight to your cell phone (thank the lord for free inbound SMS)). So while mass communication is FASTER these days (24/7 Internet connections, AIM, etc), I doubt that it has any bearing on the movie industry. Would it account for GOOD MOVIES doing better as well? "HEY THIS movE ROX"

    The movies this summer sucked, bad. Gigli, the Hulk (which wasn't terrible), Terminator 3 (again, not terrible), American Wedding, etc, are all going to be dwarfed by such fine examples such as My Boss's Daughter, the Medallion, etc.

    I suppose that they have to blame it on something. Mass marketing full of smoke and mirrors can't save bullshit. Let's cut out the teen-heart-throb actors/actresses (My Boss's Daughter) and get back to plot, script, and real entertainment.

    Just my worthless .02
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Uruk (4907) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:11PM (#6737545)
    I'd bet that they have the market research to back this up, (if there's one thing that Hollywood doesn't fool around with, it's market research on their targeted demographics) so I would tend to believe the industry on this one.

    Of course, this has nothing to do with texting, it's more about instant communication, which they can't do anything about. I suppose they could pressure theaters to disallow cell phones on some other grounds (people can't learn to turn them off during shows. That's a legitimate complaint - they really can't).

    This reminds me of the music industry though. What they say in the article is that companies are used to being able to "buy their gross" and avoid negative word of mouth. That, in a way, is a business model. And just as the music industry will have to change their business model to succeed in the face of music sharing (REGARDLESS of whether or not they are able to contain it) so too will the movie industry have to make some changes.

  • by kaltkalt (620110) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:12PM (#6737552)
    "By accepting the terms of this license to watch the following movie, you agree to not say anything bad about the movie. If you cannot accept the terms of this license, please leave the theater now and ask for (but don't expect to receive) a full refund of your ticket price."

    First the music industry decides to sell us justin timberlake dogshit, the economy goes sour and their sales go down and they sue us. Then the movie industry decides lesbian jennifer lopez mafia hitwoman movies with ben affleck are what the people want, the economy goes sour and their sales go down... can we expect any less from jack valenti?
  • by eln (21727) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:14PM (#6737595) Homepage
    Hollywood studios don't make movies hoping that people will like them and tell all their friends and then their friends will see it and tell their friends and so on anymore. It used to be that a movie was successful when it stayed in theatres forever and built up a good box office take that way.

    These days, Hollywood puts out pure garbage, and hypes the hell out of it, hoping everyone will be so hyped up about it they'll want to see it immediately after it's released. They count on the fact that people who go and see it won't be able to tell that many people it sucks until the opening weekend is already past, and they've raked in their millions, generated purely from marketing. After the multi-million dollar opening weekend ,the movie can fade into oblivion and the hollywood execs are too busy counting their money to care.

    Here's an idea: maybe Hollywood could start making movies people actually want to see more than once, and make their movie that way.
  • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:14PM (#6737598) Homepage
    However, I would imagine that hollywood is by and large safe because the majority of people do not have cell phones that support "text-messaging".

    What we would really have to watch out for is if some technological renegade could come up with some way that "text messaging" messages could be encoded into normal speech, allowing people without even cell phones to "text mssage" each other warnings about bad movies simply by coming within a close physical radius. If that happens, Hollywood is doomed.

    Although I am a bit perplexed. They suggest people did not go to see Gigli because these "text messages" warned them it was a bad movie. However, I do not have a "text message" capable cell-phone, yet I knew Gigli was a bad movie anyway, becuase all the media outlets I follow had been consistently running stories for two weeks before Gigli was released warning me that it was going to be a bad movie. Perhaps this "text messaging" of which they speak has somehow hijacked cnn.com and nyt.com, causing "text messages" warning of bad movies to masquerade as normal news? Wouldn't that be illegal? Hmm.

    Clearly there is much to think about here.
    • by gidds (56397) <slashdot.gidds@me@uk> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:35PM (#6737928) Homepage
      The majority of people do not have cell phones that support "text-messaging".

      That may be true where you are, such as the technological backwater that is the US [fx: ducks]; here in Europe mobile phones have all supported texting pretty much since they started becoming popular something like 4 years ago. And lots of folk use it; even my mum knows how. It's certainly become popular enough not to need quotes every time you mention it!

  • by kootch (81702) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:14PM (#6737599) Homepage
    I'm not going to go to watch a stupid movie when it costs $20 without food/drinks for me and my woman ($35 if you get 2 tickets, 2 drinks, and a box of popcorn in NYC)

    I'm not going to buy a cd when it costs $15+ for a cd of 8 tracks, 6 of which suck

    I'm not going to listen to the radio since all of the radio stations I get are the same 30 songs in rotation, some at the same time

    You know what I'm going to do? Pick up a book and go to the park. At least the view is nice (still warm enough for women in skimpy clothes) and there are still decent books to be read
    • by mosch (204) * on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:23PM (#6737753) Homepage
      This is slashdot, your response is supposed to be to download unlicensed mp3s of all 8 tracks, including the 6 that suck, download a 'FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION' divx copy of the movie, and then whine about how you'd pay for these things if they didn't suck.

      I hope you know that by reading a book, and going outside, you may lose your posting privileges.

  • by kalidasa (577403) * on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:14PM (#6737603) Journal

    The studios are relying on the fact that they'll get at least good sales on opening night even for a bad movie, as long as the marketing campaign makes it look good. Instead, the first viewers are warning their friends on Thursday and Friday nights "naw, go see something else, Gigli stinks." The Thursday/Friday night opening night crowds used to be a captive market.

    It seems never to have occurred to them that some people might be texting to say "you have to see this movie!" for movies that didn't get the full court marketing press? And that the whole thing just cancels out (well, it would if there were as many surprise good movies as there are expensive bad movies).

    Grassroots word of mouth is without a doubt the best marketing tool any product can have. If the word of mouth is against you, it's because you don't have good product.

  • by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:14PM (#6737609)
    Make better movies. Your movies suck. Face it.
    Get better actors, they all suck too.

    You try to cover up the fact that the plot sucks ass and the actors are retard droolers by overloading the senses with loud ass music, shit blowing up and other gee-whiz special effects.

    You are hoping that no one will notice the fact that the entire movie sucks.

    I DARE you to make a movie without loud music and ANY special effects of any kind, CGI or old school. You won't because you can't.

    You can't produce a movie that will stand on the fact that the plot is good and the actors are good because those days are gone.

    Hollywood is washed up. Fold up and go home, we don't want your crappy movies any more.

  • by Wraithlyn (133796) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:15PM (#6737616)
    ...rapid communication in general that has been improved/enabled by our new fangled networks.

    Like, an example is http://www.rottentomatoes.com. (No, not affiliated, :P) They will have links to dozens of reviews before a movie is even released.

    When 40 out of 40 reviewers all say 'Gigli' is an abhorrent, unoriginal, poorly written, disastrous mess, I'm sure not shelling out moolah for a theatre ticket.

    In "the old days" you'd maybe read a single review in a newspaper, which wasn't nearly as disuading as a whole battalion of naysayers all lined up.
  • by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:16PM (#6737634) Homepage
    "Industry executives say that this undermines a carefully crafted marketing image."

    So they admit that their product stinks, but through the use of "carefully crafted" marketing they can make people think junk = treasure. But that plan only worked as long as they could keep word of mouth from spreading too quickly. In other words, they don't like reality, but prefer their crafted message designed to fool people into seeing garbage.

    And it would have worked too if it hand't been for you meddlin' kids!

  • by MarkLR (236125) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:25PM (#6737778)
    The article being linked to is simply a few bits from a LA Times story [latimes.com] which has much more information. The LA Times article has a number of quotes from movie executives that show they realize that word of mouth is key and that they wish to make movies that get good reviews from the initial fans. It does not indicate that the movie companies want to gag anyone - just figure out how to appeal to the initial viewers. In any case bad movies always get a negative word of mouth and good movies hopefully get a good word of movie - improved communications merely helps speeds this up.
  • by Jouni (178730) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:27PM (#6737819)
    Please mod the original article down -2 for trolling and flamebait. :-)

    Jouni
  • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:30PM (#6737862)
    It couldn't be the fact that it costs nearly $40 for two people to see a movie with popcorn and drinks, could it?

    That wasn't a showstopper for me, but, after paying that and THEN being treated to a trailer with a gaffer who claims that "film piracy" take food off his table, well, that was the last straw for me. That was my last entry into a first run house, with one possible exception: There's a film coming out this winter that I've waited all my life to see. After that, I doubt I will ever subject myself to a first run cinema. And Hollywood have themselves, not me, to blame. I remained a customer through the DMCA, through the Valenti years, and until now. But that was the absolute last straw, to make me pay for the privilege of being lied to and called a theif.

  • buzz, buzz (Score:4, Insightful)

    by happyclam (564118) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:33PM (#6737901)

    I don't see a lot of controversy or conspiracy theory in this article. The industry expert quoted all but says that the slowness of word-of-mouth was factored into past releases so that even bombs could recover their costs in the first weekend if they were hyped enough.

    All this article says to me is that the movie industry was slightly blindsided by how text messaging changed the speed of the "word of mouth" effect. Doesn't seem like there's much conspiracy about this.

    I find this fascinating, however, in that it shows that social systems tend toward democracy. Just as physical systems tend toward chaos and energy must be supplied to impose order, so it goes with social systems. The movie industry has imposed order by inserting money, thus maintaining control. With the democratization of the marketing message, however, they will have to change and learn how to harness the chaos... or insert MORE money per film (perhaps by giving away movie-related merchandise to all viewers or by further engaging viewers during the filming) to impose order on this more democratic system.

    Or they could just make good movies.

    Nah. Stupid idea.

  • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:34PM (#6737925) Homepage
    They're getting ready.

    The "Defense" Industry and the Energy Industry got together to get a massive government subsidy to make war on some poor schmuck Third World dictatorship and take over its energy resources, coincidentally among the largest in the world.

    All the MPAA and RIAA have to do is think up a War on Irate Consumers or something, and have the government spend billions of dollars over a period of, say, 50 years in order ot bolster the MPAA's and RIAA's dim-witted business models.

  • NOW HEAR THIS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:36PM (#6737950) Journal
    You win this one. RTFA. They're finally admitting what you scream and holler about every time theres some statement made about internet piracy:

    They realize that they're earning less because their product is not worth 15 bucks a head to see, and the public is on to them.

    Noone had to tell me Gigli was a terrible movie. I'm already sick to death of "Bennifer", neither have any talent, and it was obvious to me that a vehicle for two pretty airheads was not something I'd be interested in.

    Now speaking of movies, who else saw "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"? Geezus christ.

    If you ever imagined that Captain Nemo, Jeckle/Hyde, the invisble man, one of the chicks from dracula, the guy from King Solomon's Mines and Dorian Gray got together in some sort of 19th century version of the X-Men to fight Dr Moriarty for some reason? If so, have you ever imagined that this story would be written by someone who'd NEVER READ ANY OF THE ORIGINAL BOOKS AND HAS A SATURDAY MORNING CARTOON IDEA OF THE CHARACTERS? Shit, Jeckle/Hyde was portrayed as an incredible hulk kind of guy. And yeah - that Dorian Gray - the one from the Wilde book "I will destroy you with the power of Sodomy!"

    Sad thing is everyone else liked it. When Dorian Gray came onscreen I said "Uh oh Connery, you better watch your butt!", there was a sole fit of laughter from someone way in the back who'd no doubt read the book - or seen a decent movie adaptation of it.

    Anyways.

    The MPAA is realizing the era of "throw some big names and a pile of FX into any old shlocky script" blockbuster era is over. We've seen all the explosions and stunts we're gonna see. They know they have to either do better - or perhaps do it cheaper. I would have seen the hulk for 5 bucks - IF that included a soda (which is only worth like a dime to them for fuck sakes). Ok, I know the theatres and the movie producers are two seperate entities, but they could work it out.

    People want value for their entertainment dollar, and they know they aren't going to get it from Gigli. My 8 and 6 year old kids know that. For the cost to take them to a movie, we can stop by Babbages and pick out a console title and be more entertained.

    Ok, end of story. Now relax. And turn your fucking phones off in the theater, text mode or not, it's still annoying. If you dont like the movie, leave, and text/talk/bleep/bloop in the damn parking lot.
  • by iabervon (1971) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:41PM (#6738039) Homepage Journal
    If you read the article (rather than just the blurb), nowhere do the movie people actually say that this is a bad thing, that they don't like this turn of events, or that they want to do anything to change it.

    It could well be a good thing overall, such that they can release good movies with staying power rather than going for glitzy special effects that make good ads. The movie business, unlike the music business, actually likes to produce good stuff, but they haven't been able to do so successfully very often, because it was so much more effective to focus on advertizing than on good movies.

    The old way was a case of a degenerate strategy which sucks for everyone but is successful; using a more pleasent strategy just isn't cost effective. If people ignore ads and hear whether movies are any good from their friends, there is a much better chance of good movies not flopping in the box office like they have before.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:43PM (#6738060) Homepage Journal
    Isn't something that causes bad movies to loose money a good thing? From a market driven economy point of view. If bad expensive movies loss money then studios will stop making them. Instead of spending huge amounts of money for big names and effects they might start looking for better stories , new idea, and even new talent. Maybe the will drop the ticket prices a little and not charge so much for popcorn. I am convinced that gram for gram movie popcorn may be the most expensive substance on earth.

    Naw. There must be a problem when good marketing can not sell a bad product!
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:43PM (#6738068) Homepage Journal
    These guys are so wedded to a business model based on cheating customers that they don't even see the irony inherent in a statement like, "You could buy your gross for the weekend and overcome bad word of mouth, because it took time to filter out into the general audience."

    The fact that fast-communicating audiences are "scuppering carefully crafted marketing campaigns" doesn't register to the movie moguls as MAKE BETTER MOVIES. Talk about living in your own pocket universe.

  • Cost of Movies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ridgelift (228977) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:48PM (#6738121)
    The internet may have made word of mouth travel faster, but I think three bigger reasons for bad ticket sales are:

    1) The price of movies and condiments are just ludicrous. Prices have triped and quadrupled in the last 15 years.

    2) Second run movie houses have become more popular. Why spend $15.00 to see a movie when you can wait 6 weeks and see the same flick for $6.00?

    3) Home theatre systems have improved to the point where picture quality and sound are really, really good.
  • by msimm (580077) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:50PM (#6738156) Homepage
    Headline should have been: Acknowledges Texting Effects Bad Box Office Turnout. The article was short sort and what was said was even handed. Slashdot clip is totally off base and seems to be talking about a different article. Nothing sinister here, just a Slashdot spin on an innocent (and insightful) comment by a Miramax guy.
  • by BMonger (68213) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:52PM (#6738189)
    While I'm sitting there watching a movie at the theater I text all my friends vivid details of what's going on. It's almost like downloading the "cam" version off the internet anyhow... this just saves them all time...

    *hangs his head and sticks out his arms ready for the cuffs*
  • by blackmonday (607916) * on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:57PM (#6738259) Homepage
    The article basically argues that communication channels are now so fast that bad word of mouth spreads much quicker than ever before. But this is the "half empty" scenario. What these pricks don't understand is that the reverse logic applies too. Good movies, even small independent movies get a nice shot in the arm as people recommend them. Remember the Blair Witch project? Bowling for Columbine? These were movies that got big through the Internet, or based off of Internet hype, not massive advertising budgets. All Miramax, hmm...
  • My god! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:59PM (#6738285)
    This has GOT to be the worst case of corperate whining that I have ever seen!
  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @06:00PM (#6738316)
    What a pity. The industry can't hoodwink the public any more by slapping PR lipstick on a pig and getting enough early rubes through the door to make back some of their money. Recording sales have been dropping too, and I wonder if the RIAA has the same hyper-fast word-of-mouth problem with CDs, and it isn't the file sharing. That would be sweet, sweet justice ...
  • by Andy Smith (55346) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @06:12PM (#6738468) Homepage
    The marketing for Charlies Angles 2 in the UK was hilarious. There were two distinct styles of ads, one which urged people to see it early "to be one of the first", and one which urged people to go see it with a large groups of friends because they'd enjoy it more. It was so transparent that they wanted people to see it early before someone warned them not to bother and see it in a large group so one person wouldn't warn all their friends. I loved the original film and I was looking forward to the sequel, but those ads pretty much told me (a) it sucked and (b) the studio KNEW it sucked.

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