Friday, November 25, 2005

End of the movies?

The era of moviegoing as a mass audience ritual is slowly but inexorably drawing to a close, eroded by many of the same forces that have eviscerated the music industry, decimated network TV and, yes, are clobbering the newspaper business. Put simply, an explosion of new technology — the Internet, DVDs, video games, downloading, cellphones and iPods — now offers more compelling diversion than 90% of the movies in theaters, the exceptions being "Harry Potter"-style must-see events or the occasional youth-oriented comedy or thriller.

Anywhere you look, the news has been grim. Disney just reported a $313-million loss for films and DVDs in its fiscal fourth quarter. Sony has had a disastrous year, with only one $100-million hit ("Hitch") among a string of costly flops. DreamWorks not only has had theatrical duds but also saw its stock plummet when its "Shrek 2" DVD sales fell 5 million short of expectations. Even Warners, the industry's best-run studio, laid off 400 staffers earlier this month.
More from Patrick Goldstein in The LA Times.

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