Monday, January 23, 2012

My Response to TechCrunch -- Why We Still Watch Movies (& Go Out to See Them)

Alexia Tsotsis of TechCrunch today writes a post titled "I'd Rather Watch Instagram Than a Movie," in which she essentially argues that Hollywood is at a competitive disadvantage to Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and others for our limited time and attention. To a certain extent, her thesis is true -- we only have so much time, and all entertainment minutes consumed with Instagram and others of that ilk limit our available time for watching movies (both online and offline).

This is rather obvious. But, it misses the point.

First and foremost, we all like story-telling. That thirst is in our collective DNA. And, while each of us can tell our individual life "happenings" to both friends and non-friends online, we still like to gather around someone who spins a great yarn. And, even with all of the garbage, "Hollywood" still does that. And, for certain types of stories, nobody does it better. (To be clear, I use the term "Hollywood" to refer to all professional motion picture and television content creators, not just the industry behemoths -- I personally like the indie films).

That's why virtually all tech behemoths -- Apple, Amazon, Google -- are clamoring to win big in the online video world (and are now beginning to shell out big bucks to license movies). They each ultimately will spend billions of dollars to be the "go to" source for Hollywood content. Why? Because our appetite for movies will only increase massively over time as we increasingly are able to find and view what we want, anytime, anywhere and on any device.

Second, although Tsotsis's piece does not focus on in-theater viewing of movies, we also do like to gather around the fire. Always have. Always will. There is something fundamentally different about the offline communal experience that comes with seeing the movies in theaters. We see others seeing and experiencing the same thing (and we can also talk about this shared experience around the water cooler and from the same frame of reference, something that can't be done with personal media). In other words, we share that experience. We feed off that energy. It is the type of collective/communal tangible experience that the online world (which I know and love) never can match. There is no substitute. It is simply a fundamentally different experience than being online.

Listen, I love the online world -- I have been in the digital media/online game for a long, long time. But, every now and then, I want to sit back and watch a great indie movie. And, I want to do that in a theater (much in the same way that I want to go offline and physically meet someone, even if I can virtually chat with them -- and I previously ran a video chat company for god's sake!).

After all, every now and then we need to get out!