Guest Post: Fixed fee – Unlimited movies. The future of movies?

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today we’ve got a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers, Nostra from My Film Views. It’s a fascinating topic surely us moviegoers and film fans have an opinion about, so read on …

The internet has changed our lives, not only in regards to being able to connect with people instantly or being able to shop online, but it has also changed the world around us. Some physical stores have seen the number of customers drop and were forced to close down. Two big examples are music stores and video rental places. It is possible to get your music and movie fixes without leaving your home and even on the move it is easy to get a couple of songs on the go through your phone. It has forced record labels into changing their model and the pricing for songs has changed. Although the movie industry was also forced to change I started wondering about pricing. In the past I already wrote about the death of DVD and Blu-Ray where I mentioned fixed fee services. For movies the obvious service to mention is of course Netflix where you can watch as many movies and TV shows you want for a price which normally might buy you one “new release” on DVD/Blu Ray.
Some cinema chains have been paying attention as well. The biggest one in the Netherlands, Pathé, has an online offering of movies (still with individually priced movies though) but also has been doing a lot to make sure people keep visiting the cinema by organising special nights (for example one for women where they will have a small market where clothes and jewelry are sold) to make it more of an experience. It is not the only thing they do however. A couple of years ago they started offering Unlimited passes. Basically they work the same as Netflix does. They cost around 20 euros a month (depending which option you take) and what that allows you to do is visit the cinema as much as you’d like. So you could just go to the cinema in the morning and stay there all day seeing the movies you like. There is no limit and the cards even allow you to buy concessions for reduced prices (10 to 25% off the normal prices). It’s a great deal for both moviegoer, who can watch all the movies he/she wants and for the cinema as well as they have a fixed income and know when people come they will probably still buy some food or drinks.
The consumer wants to be able to choose what they watch. This is already possible with on demand services and there are also initiatives to introduce that for the cinema. I bet there are a ton of older movies you wish you could see at the cinema. “We Want Cinema” is a dutch platform which does just that. On their website they have a big selection of titles to choose from. You select one of the participating cinemas you would like to see the movie and then you will have to make sure enough other people also want to see that movie. If enough tickets are sold the movie will be programmed and you can enjoy the film on the big screen again.
I’d like to imagine about a possible future of movies. What if you would combine these things where a cinema chain or something like Netflix would have a subscription form where you have an unlimited selection of films on demand and could also head to the cinema with that same subscription? It would be an awesome offer for movie lovers (for about 30 euros/40 dollar per month). The movie companies would be able to negotiate with the provider of the service about the pricing. Since both the online service and the cinema would be run by the same company this would also open up the possibility of simultaneous releases of new movies in the cinema and on demand. It would not matter where people watched their movies. An added extra for the movie companies would be that pirating of movies could decrease because people would be able to watch the latest movies immediately.

Add to that a special section in the online service to pick movies to see at the cinema, which makes promoting events like that and it easily something to get excited about. Unlimited movies for a fixed fee has already been partly-realised, but the future could be even brighter.

Well movie lovers, what do you think of this idea? 

38 thoughts on “Guest Post: Fixed fee – Unlimited movies. The future of movies?

  1. Awesome article Nostra! Thanks for letting me host it. I quite like the idea of unlimited films w/ a fixed fee, esp. when that might allow me to see older films I’ve missed on the big screen! Of course it depends how much the fixed fee is 😀

    1. Thanks a lot Ruth for hosting this one. Interesting choice for the Pathe cinema, that one is very close to my work. The unlimited pass for the cinema is great, unfortunately I do not have the time to visit as much as I’d like. Wish the future I imagine will be here soon! 🙂

  2. First, great article, Nostra!

    Second, I think it possible we see some version of this at some point in the future, especially for indie produced/distributed movies.

    It could be awhile before it includes the biggest new Hollywood releases (or anything distributed by the major studios), though. Those companies are still making loads of money, so they have little incentive to change their business models. Even with a potential decrease in piracy, not charging individual prices for individual movies would probably be too big a hit to their bottom line (especially since studios do not get a cut of theater concessions).

    Now, if the studios start losing money, they’ll be forced to consider a change. Of course, even then it will be slow in the making. Change always is.

    1. Thank you.

      You see simultaneous releases already with smaller and independent movies (both cinema and on demand), but let’s hope it will grow into other type of movies. You are right there isn’t much incentive. Change is always slow indeed.

      1. And I take full advantage of those simultaneous releases. 🙂

        I think part of the reason indies get them, though, is that so many never receive a wide release, at least not in the US. The simultaneous release is a way to bring these movies to a bigger audience that otherwise wouldn’t have opportunity to see (and spend money on) it.

        Those flicks that eventually get a wider theatrical release (Inside Llewyn Davis, Enough Said, etc) tend to have the same delayed home rental schedules as bigger productions. That is where I see the greatest likelihood of increased simultaneous releases though. Llewyn Davis probably made plenty of money, but how much more might it have made if more viewers could have seen it more quickly?

  3. Great post by Nostra. I love what Pathé and We Want Cinema have been doing. Didn’t know about that. I would definitely get behind simultaneous releases of new movies in the cinema and on demand, and I agree that would be a great way to fight piracy.

    1. Thanks Fernando. I love the things they do. Have personally not used We Want Cinema yet, but I really like the concept. Hope simultaneous releases will happen, which would be great.

  4. Certainly could, my only worry would be a lack of consequence. If movies don’t make money they won’t get sequels or that type of film won’t be made. If we pay a certain amount and then people make films its hard to imagine how to assign success. Views I suppose.

    Also on the piracy side 90% of film piracy is release date difference related. Just release films the same time everywhere, sorts that out 😀

    1. But it is all a matter of making good deals with the providers. Maybe some extra amount per view as you mention, this could cover not making not enough money.

      Yeah, it is crazy that some movies are released (over here in The Netherlands) two or three months later. Even movies which are already out on DVD and Bluray in the US.

  5. Great post with plenty of good for thought. Whether we like it or not, it’s the future. The opportunities offered by Netflix et al are fantastic and studios are going to have to raise their game to get us into cinemas, a la Gravity.

  6. Interesting and fun post. There is certainly interesting potential for the future of movies. Some of it sounds great but other bits makes me worry some. Online features are cool except for those with mediocre connections. It’s a constant battle where I am. Also big studios would have to make concessions and considering the big profit they are still making in theaters, I’m not sure if I see them doing it.

    Love the idea of a per month membership to the cinema. I can really seeing that being advantageous to movie fans and profitable for theaters.

    Tons of cool things to think on.

    1. Thanks Keith. You are right with mediocre connections. Over here the connections are great almost everywhere (in a small country it’s easy), so it is frustrating when this is not the case. Not sure the big studios would lose money if they make good deals (for example extra income based on views and the provider could offer a premium subscription to cover the costs. If a big cinema chain already can do this, something like Netflix should be able to as wel).

      1. Netflix frustrates me. Always threatening to raise prices but rarely providing new bigger releases. It seems they are more interested in television and original series’ these days. That frustrates someone like me who doesn’t care much for TV. If they would spend that money on better movie content I wouldn’t mind paying.

        1. I just signed up for Netflix this past weekend. When it comes to movies most of them are quite old, agree with that. I do love their original series and have not watched a lot of TV shows during the fast few years, so got a lot of catching up to do. Since they only have been operating a few months now I have not heard anything about price changes yet. Better movie content is needed indeed.

          1. I’ve had them here for a few years now. I usually stream for about three months and then cancel for three months. It gives them some time to get a few new movies in their rotation. Netflix is a great concept. I think studios have really made it difficult by raising prices on them. Plus they lost their Starz streaming partnership. They once had every Starz movie available to stream. I really miss that.

  7. Ted S.

    Nice write up Nostra! I think the popularity of online movie viewings will make Hollywood change their tactics down the road. I can see this kind of ideas coming to reality maybe 20 years from now, it’s too much politics and money involved for Hollywood studios to make a drastic change like this for now. I’m loving what Netflix is doing though, they’re challenging the big TV networks and who knows, down the road they can challenge the big bad Hollywood studios.

  8. One problem I have with online streaming is that it’s often hurt by internet connection but I enjoy the diversity sites like Netflix offer. That membership idea sounds promising and I would definitely sign up for that.

  9. There are actually limited versions of both of those concepts here in the states. There’s Movie Pass which is a version of the unlimited movie pass, though it’s limited to one movie per day (I believe) and only at certain chains, and only if they accept Discover credit cards (as one blogger found out to his detriment). And there’s also Tugg, which works with various theaters across the country and if you get enough people to show interest in watching a classic or limited release movie, they will schedule a showing. I think it would be great to see a collaboration between cinema and online streaming as I would absolutely be interested if there was some sort of combined fee.

    1. Movie pass sounds similar, what a shame that it limits you in the amount of movies. The unlimited pass I have really is that. I could stay in the cinema all day if I wanted to. I heard about Tugg for the first time yesterday when I got a press release from a movie that it could be picked through that service. Seems very similar indeed to We Want Cinema.

  10. and can’t see so many films others do. I love foreign, documentaries, Indies–but have to wait before I can see them all. Awesome post and let’s see if your ideas come true! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Cindy. Must be frustrating not being able to see the movies you are interested in…here’s hoping my idea will become a reality soon (although it will probably still take a few years).

  11. Great write-up Nostra. In short, yep I think you’re right. Fixed fee, unlimited content is the future. Having said that though, I think that physical media will be around for a long time, albeit selling lower volumes. Who knows about forever, but I think that physical media will be around for decades and probably the rest of my lifetime (which is hopefully a looooot of decades).

    1. Thanks. Although you are right that physical media will be around for a while you already see the sales of them decreasing. Since this week I have started using Netflix and see no reason anymore to buy boxsets of TV shows for example.

  12. Interesting ideas, Nostra! The video rental closed down where my parents live, sucks, especially for them. But dvds are so cheap these days, that films that are 2-3 years old are very cheap to buy. Renting netflix or MUBI movies is something my folks are not used to. The library still have a good selection of dvds, so that’s an alternative to the dvd rental stores. I wish we had those unlimited passes in my area, that’s like what they do at film festivals if you have a press pass, only it’s all the time 🙂

    1. Thanks a lot Chris. Yeah, even though I didn’t visit rental places a lot anymore it still is a shame to see them disappear. Libraries can be an interesting alternative if you don’t need to see the latest movies. The unlimited passes are awesome, although I am probably going to stop using it since I simply don’t have the time to go as much as I would like.

  13. I think it’s a good idea – one that could take off, but how would it impact the box office, and specifically box office takings? I suppose you could track what movies people went to see in theaters but if the overall price for customers comes down because of the monthly fee would this lower the potential for films to make money at the box office, and therefore turn the distributors off the idea?

    1. Well, currently the biggest chain already offers it, so they just look at the number of visitors. Same could happen for online. It all depends on the agreements the cinemas make with the movie studios.

  14. Awesome post Nostra! I think it could work. The only issue I can foresee is whether cinema companies would take the risk of paying what would be an exorbitant amount of money to get a big enough library to attract customers and make it better than existing services. The future is definitely online though, in some respect at least. Simultaneous cinema and VOD releases are becoming more popular too.

    One day there’ll no doubt be some fancy pants technology where you can go sit in a cinema and everyone can watch something different!

    1. Thanks a lot Terry. I hope the developments will go quickly, but reality is very different. Would not want to go to a cinema to see different movies with the same people at the same time…would be weird to hear people laughing when you are watching a thriller for example 🙂

  15. Pingback: The Monday Question: Netflix! My Filmviews

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