Opportunities and challenges in the new digital entertainment world

Every organization, industry and society is going through wrenching change right now.  There will be no return to a “normal” state that resembles a prior period in world history.  I am observing this first-hand in the health care and film industries, and as a well-informed observer in the industry I left 2 ½ years ago, the mailing industry.

The film industry is particularly going through wrenching change, but, as a recent entrant to the industry, I have seen both the challenges and the new opportunities that change has created.  Clearly, the move to digital technology has effectively destroyed the traditional retail DVD rental market, with the limited exception of Red Box kiosks.  It has also thrown into confusion the economic model for digital downloads, since Netflix has built an economic model based on fixed monthly rentals, although its founder Reed Hastings recently noted that the low monthly rentals may not work if subscribers want mostly new films, as opposed to a mix or new and old ones.

I experienced the consequence of this complexity with the difficulty my strategic consultant had in describing the new potential economic model for our film From the Rough in preparing our investor memorandum.  He found the data and did the analyses we needed, but it took longer and was far more complicated, because any data that was more than a few years old on non-theatrical revenue streams was essentially obsolete.

However, there are many opportunities that this new world of entertainment provides for us:

Discovering new market opportunities

Marketing today is so much more sophisticated and targeted than it was a few years ago that it opens up huge new opportunities.  There are two big changes:

  • We have far better ability to segment big markets into several smaller ones and to target these smaller segments far more efficiently; and
  • We have far better ability to predict future entertainment preferences based on a combination of demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal data.

The even better news is that anyone has the ability to tap these capabilities relatively inexpensively.

What makes this time exciting for us is that we have discovered that major segments of the potential film-going market, people of color, immigrants, adult women, and even sophisticated college students, have been left behind.  The traditional film industry has developed and refined a very effective model targeted at a major slice of the global film audience, but, in so doing, it has narrowed its field of vision and left major opportunities for others.

What also has been an opportunity that new technologies make possible is the ability to level the playing field between very expensive and relatively low-budget film productions. We have been told that we have produced a beautiful film.

The marketplace will tell us whether we have produced a film that is worth seeing and is high quality.  Whether we succeed or fail will not depend on having followed traditional formulas.  Our success will come because we have created content matched to the needs and wants of our target audiences, and because we have given them something of enduring value.  That has always been what makes film entertainment or any other works of art successful.  Today, the ability to achieve that matching of content to audience needs and wants is more achievable than ever.



4 Responses to “Opportunities and challenges in the new digital entertainment world”

  1. Kim says:

    Hi, I really just wanna say that REALESE THE FILM ALREADY!!! You wanna broaden the film to attract more then black woman. Well I a very white 23 year old collage student from Sweden. I have been around the web and you will find that the film has grasped the interest of many different people from all around the world! But we will lose interest if it doesn’t come out soon..

  2. Thank you for your comment. I am extremely passionate about the film and the story and want it released broadly, because of how Coach Starks indirectly made a profoundly positive difference in my younger son’s life. My son’s white, Swedish chess coach, who made him believe that anything was possible and inspired him to become a national chess champion, learned a great deal about how to coach young people from being one of Coach Starks’ golfers.
    I found this story in 2004, and, over the next 5 1/2 years spent several hundred thousand dollars acquiring the right to film it, developing the story, and getting multiple drafts of a screenplay produced. My older son ultimately produced the screenplay on which the film is based. It is a project that has engaged every member of my family, including my daughter, whose harp playing appears on the soundtrack. All of the $7.5 million provided to produce, edit, and promote the film has come from me.
    Because of how much I admire Coach Starks, I want her story to be presented on thousands of movie screens and to be seen by as many people as possible. I want the film to be as timeless as a Hoosiers is for basketball or a Remember the Titans is for football. I want it to honor her work as much as possible.

  3. Kim says:

    Thank you for answering! Did not expect that. And did not expect it’s content. You should do as Pierre Bagley and tell your side. Make people understand better, the way I do now.

    Small world, with your son’s coach being Swedish.
    That’s what it always comes down to, isn’t it. Money. If I had even a part of it, I would invest right now. Maybe you should set up a page where fans can be a part and donate ;)

    I’m not going to pretend that I have the slightest idea how things run in the film industry nor the ways of marketing and distributing. Or that I know coach Starks story well enough to be as passionated as you. But I can sure see that you are passionated about the film. I’m glad about that. Be careful about commercially attractiveness, don’t let the film lose it’s soul. Over-thinking will do that to ;)

    I wish you and the rest of the people involved, your family and Gyre, the best of luck with the film! I hope you find investors and that the movie finds it artistic soul :) And even though I don’t think the money is so very important to you to get back, I hope the film pays off and you get your investments back. But mostly that you feel that the film reaches its potential and was well worth it :)

  4. Thank you for your kind remarks. When I think about this story, I am humbled. Coach Starks did amazing things, and her story gripped me. I remember a quote from a tribute to Steven Spielberg, who, when asked about what drove him to make great movies with great stories, said: “If a story won’t leave me alone, I can’t leave it alone.”

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