Thursday, June 21, 2007

Flicks by Mail

For all of you in Madrid who still go to the video store to get your movies, take a look at what is coming. In L.A., nobody goes to a DVD store. Blockbuster is basically out of business. We either watch cable or satellite T.V., or digitally record the shows to watch at any time, or our DVD's come in the mail – from Netflix. Go on-line, choose from an S-load of movies, and pay one rate per month to get three movies out at once for however long you want – no late fees, no lines at the store, you can download them too. Couple this with new, cheaper, flat screen T.V. technology, and there better be a good reason to go to the movie theater. That's why the theaters are not doing so well. Ticket sales are down.

Knowing this is coming to Madrid, I hear about the new potential genius law in Spain. One that would make theater owners show an obligatory amount of Spanish-made movies. I know it pisses them off that happy-ending, fluff American movies are more popular than seeing deep, depressing, state-subsidized Spanish films about people trying to commit suicide, or of people getting molested and getting hooked on heroin (I wonder why?). But the truth is people want to escape when they go to the movies, they want to have fun. Life is ROUGH and everyone knows it. Why not see some fantasy at the movies?

Unlike the deep, thought-provoking, and government subsidized Spanish movies, American movies (except clearly labeled public TV) are made with private money. Somebody actually takes their money out of the bank to make a movie hoping it will turn a profit. Hence, the people get what they want. Even with this silly market-driven system, Hollywood still manages to make some pretty good, and thought-provoking movies - of course along with some crap.

Guys, is it really so bad to let the people watch American movies? Why the fear? It seems like they may be terrified to learn that the Spanish movie-going public has the same tastes as the American public. That would take one more thing off of the, “Why We Feel Superior to the Americans” list.

I say let the market decide what succeeds. They'll probably even find out that the poor Spanish producers can figure out what sells best at home (without government Euros) and that they can give the Americans a run for their money - if given the chance. If they don't, and they try to legislate behavior, the theater business will suffer in Madrid. People will just stay home and watch what they want to on their flat screens with surround sound.


EuroMadrid said...

I'm sorry to say that NetFlix is destined to fail, if it is planning to operate in Spain. The reason? eMule.

eMule and other peer-to-peer sharing sites have made film piracy easier than ever and it is something that is extremely popular in Spain. People can download movies for free and it fits perfectly into the whole "picaresco" nature of Spanish culture. I have Spanish friends --respectable, college-educated, professionals-- who have no problems of conscience, whatsoever, about downloading movies and tv programs for free online. When I tell them that it is wrong because it is a form of stealing, they look at my bug-eyed and say that I'm the chump for being willing to pay for programming via a service like iTunes.

Blockbuster has already gone out of business in Spain thanks to the level of piracy that exists in the country. eMule is even making life hard for the African immigrants who sell pirated copies of movies on the streets and Metro in Madrid.

Good luck, Netflix!

Carl said...

I don't have a problem if Netflix can't make it in Spain. The point is how can the movie theaters make it if you can get what you want (stolen or otherwise)online? Especially if the government tells theaters what to show.

Ayse said...

we have been using netflix back home for the last 3 years with no problems but another reason it would fail here is the reliability of the post service.
about euromadrid's comment: here we go dishonesty and cheating the system mentality again. when people are not empowered and have ownership, they loose their moral compass. unfortunately, so common in many Mediterranean societies.