Steven Spielberg and George Lucas recently participated in a panel at the University of Southern California, where they each made some bold statements which are likely to get many in the film industry talking. One topic of conversation was the rising cost of movie-making and how studios are more apt to spend $250 million on one film rather than making a lot of smaller films. Another topic of conversation was the shorter theatrical run of modern day movies, and how some movies wind up being in hotels very soon after they are released in theaters.
According to The Verge, Stephen Spielberg said, “There’s going to be eventually day and date with movies and eventually there’s going to be a price variance. You’re going to have to pay $25 to see the next Iron Man. And you’re probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln.”
It’s an interesting and strong statement by Spielberg. The possibility of new movies being released on demand to home and hotel viewers the same day they are released in movie theaters is likely a very real possibility. The comic book industry has seen a similar thing occur with most digital comic books being released the same day that they are first available in comic book stores. People no longer have to leave their homes and drive to their local comic book store to read new issues.
However, there is one big difference between comic books and movies. There is a huge collector market for comic books, so people still have a reason to drive to their comic book stores to buy the latest print edition. With movies, there isn’t really the same collector’s mentality, so theater owners will have to try to appeal to the theater going experience of seeing the movie with an audience.
On Spielberg’s second point about paying $25 to see the next Iron Man movie, it already seems like with rising ticket prices that could be a reality for all movies by the time Iron Man 4 rolls around. Whether there will actually be price variance though is a much tougher question. While a blockbuster like Iron Man is more expensive to make, there are also a lot of other merchandising revenue streams from those type of movies, which give studios incentive to keep the ticket prices in line with other movies to attract as wide an audience as possible. Odds would seem more likely, as George Lucas points out, that Lincoln type movies might eventually wind up just going straight to TV rather than playing in theaters.