Sunday, October 31, 2004

Finally, a movie so good
...that you'll want to throw it away!

Why are is at least a small portion of the film industry so determined to convince its customers that movies are disposable? Yes, most movies are just that, subject to Sturgeon's Law, but now we have a company that takes the idea of a disposable movie literally. In fact, they're not just disposable - they're recylable!
In the next few weeks, a Christmas drama called Noel, directed by Chazz Palminteri and featuring Susan Sarandon and Penelope Cruz, will open for a theatrical run in New York and Los Angeles. On November 28th, it will be aired on Turner Network Television.
But starting November 17th, you can pick up a DVD of Noel from Amazon - exclusively- for only $4.99. Here's the catch. The film is being released in a format called Flexplay (previously tested on a handful of Disney and Miramax titles as EZ-D)which offers, according to the packaging "total convenience!". Which means that even though the film is, according to the package, "sure to become a holiday classic", they're also pretty sure you won't be thinking too much about it later. 48 hours after you unwrap the disc, a red circle in the center will turn black, telling you that the disc has "expired".
This is not the first time that the film industry has played around with the idea of movies that self-destruct - and I doubt that it will be any more successful than previous attempts - but it seems more blatant and misguided than most. If movies are no more than an impulse item, purchased at the same cost as a rental and easily discarded, then they should be placing these in supermarkets, not exclusively at Amazon. And why would Disney, of all companies - a company which was forced kicking and screaming into the home video market but has probably benefited from it more than anyone - be marketing time-sensitive copies of movies like Freaky Friday and Pirates of the Caribbean at the same time that they've made point-of-purchase the most lively part of the distribution chain?
Okay, I'm probably carrying on needlessly. Flexplay will probably go onto the technological scrapheap within a year. It's a stupid, bad idea. But why do dumb ideas like this keep coming back?


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