Steam has released its first movie through its digital distribution network. Netflix streams movies directly to your computer. Hulu is the new cable. Is there a place for physical distribution?
Is Bluray dead?
The short answer is: yes it is. I used to work in the DVD industry and after getting laid-off a few years back I've been looking to re-invent myself as a writer, as a programmer and as a leader. Things easier said than done in this economy.
The sad part of this is that this digital transition was inevitable and foreseeable. Yet the studios and the vendors (I worked for a vendor) and even the retail stores all pretended that it wasn't happening, until it did. Blockbuster is no more, Hollywood Video is no more. All preventable 'deaths' if they'd moved their assents correctly.
The next thing on the chopping block is film canister delivery to movie theaters. With silver jumping in price (I'm not sure but I think it quadrupled) and silver being a huge component of the chemistry of film, suddenly figuring out digital distribution by shipping hard drives made more economic sense. This will lead to a loss of many film-distribution businesses (and possibly theaters that now need a digital projector to survive and those things aren't cheap).
So where to now DVDs?
Well people, cocooning is dead. DVDs were part of the trend of people cocooning. Separating themselves from others and creating 'man-caves', 'tv-rooms' and the like. This trend is dead too. Facebook killed it. Now with communities so easily formed, with sites like meet-up that facilitate face-to-face group creations, the next trend is communities. The individual experience of watching a movie at home will decrease, and the nuclear experience of watching a movie also. In fact the dinner and a movie date is also dead. It's now boring and passé, like from a time before yelp could guide you to a cool interesting place.
So what's next?
I think that what's next for the world of movies is the shared experience. Cinespia has got it right by doing outdoor showings (in the Hollywood Forever cemetery). Bring a blanket, bring some food and you can have a picnic while watching a movie. A much nicer, more awesome experience than the quiet antiseptic movie theaters we have now. (When I was a kid watching a movie in a theater was awesome because in the silence and darkness you could feel that community.)
I think movies will either evolve back into these communal events or be driven by spectacle only and be like feeders to the secondary digital distribution channels. The best movies are the ones that make you think, the ones that you want to talk about. How great would it be if you really had that space yourself instead of having Kevin Smith do a show about it? (On Hulu of all places...) This is coming people and I can't wait. I like watching movies and I can't wait for them to become real date activities again. In the mean time I'll keep enjoying my reverse-cocooning, my going 'down to the pub' or in my case lugging my laptop to the café.