Who Should Studios Listen To For The Clue?

Reused from THR -- Jochen Siegle/MomentMedia

Fox Filmed Entertainment’s co-chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos wrote a piece for the Hollywood Reporter remembering his relationship with Steve Jobs.  It certainly is a nice and interesting read, but the element that struck me was the favor Jobs’ asked for in their last conversation.  The concern Jobs conveys about the film industry learning from the music industry’s downfall was something we’ve discussed a lot amongst friends and associates – with the concern that those in power either weren’t paying attention, or worse, just didn’t have a solution or a clue.  In the excerpt of Jim and Steve’s last conversation below, it shows that at least someone in power has engaged openly with the concern:

I last spoke to Steve a few weeks ago when he called a couple of days after he had resigned from Apple. I had sent him an e-mail congratulating him for finally quitting his day job. He sounded frail but was still energetic and had lots of new ideas and plans. We talked for a while about politics, music, our families and, of course, business. At one point, he said: “Hey, do me a favor, will you? Don’t let what happened to the music business happen to yours — keep coming up with better ways to provide people with your content.”

Now it is up to those in power to actually take the necessary steps to make this happen.  We may never know why they have been so slow to aggressively grasp this concept until now.  It certainly seems within the corporate walls that there is true trepidation to take any steps to make smart moves in this direction.  Yes, there have been some solutions offered relating to the technology – Blu-ray and 3D – but even those are standing on its ear when looking at the 21 million illegal downloads BitTorrent is claiming for AVATAR last year.  Digital Copy is also a technology product that helps to stem the tide, but all of these don’t really respond to the changing tastes in users. Instead, they attempt to shape what the user does and that just doesn’t seem to work.  Perhaps the industry should be taking a large course in Judo – where the key is to effectively leverage the oncoming force of the attacker to reach your hoped-for outcome rather than attack full force in the hopes of changing the attacker’s direction.  Of course, the public is not attacking the film industry, but some of the things the film industry – not just the studios, but exhibitors, distributors, marketers, talent, etc. are all responsible for – could be doing are not be done.  They are certainly not taking enough meaningful trials and changes to help consumers more easily get good content in growing ways or to grow the base beyond the declining numbers they are seeing – at least in Home Entertainment.

Which leaves us at Gianopolus’ last statement.  By reading it, it gives hope that the heads of the industry will not be as stubborn as the leaders of the music industry when change happened the way consumers wanted it – almost unilaterally.

We all owe it to Steve to do that. We’ll just miss him telling us how.

Well, you’ve got many consumers looking for someone to help guide them to the best content and a bunch of talent within your walls capable of telling you how to do just that.  Perhaps they can be allowed to “tell us how…”

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