Page last updated at 09:48 GMT, Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Digital film: Ask the industry

Cinema audience

The digital age is transforming entertainment - and this is your chance to question key figures at the top of the industry.

The BBC News website has assembled a virtual panel of film executives to answer your questions about how the industry is handling new technology.

Send your questions below. Your points may relate to the movie industry's current practices or the future of film and cinemas in the digital age.

Are film companies making movies available in the right ways? How well are they dealing with piracy? Is the box office destined to be eclipsed by download stores?

We will post a range of questions here and pick the eight most common and important ones to be answered by the panel.

A similar panel recently answered questions about digital music and a broadcasting panel will be assembled in the coming weeks.

The film panel comprises:

  • Dan Glickman, chairman and chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which represents major Hollywood film studios and is leading the global fight against piracy.

  • Lavinia Carey, director general of the British Video Association (BVA), the trade body for the UK video and DVD industry, which has been central to the British anti-piracy campaign.

  • Curt Marvis, chief executive of CinemaNow, which is billed as the leading legal movie download service, allowing fans to watch or buy films over the internet.

  • John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, which represents US cinemas.


This debate has now closed.

I download movies.

Why is it my fault that the cinema today can't offer me a better viewing experience than sitting at a desk watching a computer screen? It's not that hard to entertain me, but you're charging me $15 and subjecting me to 20 minutes of ads while failing to do so.

Why is it my fault that the local theaters all show the same Hollywood blockbuster films instead of offering me the variety I crave? I'll see trailers for smaller, charming and quirky films online that will never see the inside of a theater here. If you won't let me see them legitimately, what choice do you leave me?

Why is it my fault that I have to wait as much as 6 months for a release here in Australia after all my North American friends have already seen it? By the time it appears here I've heard all about it and the suspense and excitement is gone. Thanks to the internet I can read raving reviews for films that I can't wait to see, so stop making me wait.

Why do you assume that easy access to content will diminish my desire to purchase more of it? Increased exposure to quality products that suit my unique tastes will only give me more reason to spend my money.

I used to download music too, now I buy it on iTunes.
Jason Cormier, Canberra, Australia

Why am I made to sit through fluff at the start of DVDs I bought, with no option to skip it? The most insulting is the "Buy movies don't download them" one. I did buy the movie, and now I'm being made to sit through a video aimed at people who DON'T buy their movies!
Stephen Moore, Lisburn, UK

Why am I, as a legal owner of a purchased DVD, being bombarded with annoying anti-piracy messages and film trailers before I can view the main feature on a DVD? I can understand this perhaps on rental versions, but on retail versions that's almost enough to make me (and I'm sure many others) consider getting an illegal copy that will be stripped of these annoyances.

I've also heard claims by studios that I don't actually own the DVD, only a licence to view the media. Is this true, and if so, wouldn't that mean that I don't have to pay for "upgrading" my entire library to HD-DVD/Blu-Ray? Or any other format for that matter?
Nicholas de Villiers, Weybridge, England

Why does the industry insist on only supporting Windows Media and Real as only formats that you will distribute movies on services like CinemaNow, Movielink and Real networks, when DivX has a better DRM solution that is account based and allows the customer to burn DixX encoded DVDs of Paid for and Video on Demand. Greencine sells DivX encoded of old and art house movies from some of the major studios under this DRM scheme already.
Matt Hendry

I run Linux on my computer. Why can't I play DVDs I've purchased on it? And what will the position be for Linux users when the new high-definition format discs become available? Will I be able to play them on my Linux box?
Paul Cooke, Gloucester England

Seeing as only one clever hacker is needed for films to appear on P2P networks, is it fair to say that DRM does not prevent or even reduce piracy? If that's not fair to say, can you please tell us of a single instance in which DRM has prevented a copyrighted film from appearing on these networks?
Dave Morris, Oxford, UK

The ease of making a film has gone up - the cost has gone down. (Just look at Primer, one of the finest films of the last decade) Why are my cinema tickets so expensive?
Dave Morris, Oxford, UK

Considering the amount of money that movie stars and studios make, do the panel find that framing copyright theft as a moral issue embarrassing, or something that works?
David McClymont, East Kilbride

With the emergence of TV over the internet, how is the film industry going to embrace the IPTV medium?
Richard, Reading, UK

Do you think that outrageously expensive movie tickets are contributing to lower sales at the box office?
Eric, Villanova, PA

With the home entertainment business booming, DVD, home theatres and TVs that deliver a better viewing experience then traditional theatres, what if anything is in the works to save our movie theatres?
Kevin Moore, New York, USA

In retrospect, how would you say the VCR affected your ability to function as a profitable business? At the time of its release, it was declared to be the death toll for the movie industry. Would you say that declaration was accurate?

How are modern technologies pertaining to home recording and private trading of films and TV content similar or different from the VCR?
Michael Wainwright, Austin, Texas, USA

A couple of people have mentioned 3d/virtual reality. I've often wondered what that experience is like for people like me who don't actually have stereoscopic vision (ie I only have one functioning eye). No goggles or glasses are going to make me see the 'effect'. Could I still follow the action or would it be a matter of seeing a 'double image' all the time? Sorry - this is a pretty basic question but I've often wondered...
Lynne Carmichael, Melbourne, Australia

Will the industry ever stop the practice of releasing movies (especially newer releases) on DVD only to re-release the same movie with extras or director's cut 3 to 6 months later?

This practice of double-dipping is doing nothing but angering valuable costumers and probably fuels the piracy problem when costumers are forced to pay for the same movie again to get the version of the movie they wanted in the first place.
Troy Tofsrud, Houston, B.C. Canada

Steven Soderbergh's "Bubble" was released in theatres, on pay-per-view HD TV and on DVD almost simultaneously. In a time where studios are shrinking release windows in an effort to jumpstart DVD sales revenues, would you say giving the consumer the choice of theatre, (pay-per-view) TV or DVD - as "Bubble" did - holds promise as an alternative/supplement to the present distribution model?
Adnan Khan, Dubai, UAE

Sky now has a download service for movies, why can't I pay to see new movies in the comfort of my own home instead of going to the cinema? Movie pirates have an open market because of the industry is not making use of the technology available. They give me a choice the industry does not. I would much rather pay to see the latest film instead of watching a dodgy pirate DVD. You can't blame the pirates for making the most of a market the industry is ignoring. Epically when release dates in the USA and the UK can be miles apart. For example Rent is not even mentioned over here yet the DVD is soon to be released in the USA. The industry should be beating the pirates at their own game not spending fortunes on trying to prosecute them.
David Wakefield, Brighton UK

There has been a noted decline in the amount of people visiting the cinema to watch films. I do not think this is due to sequels, same old movies etc. I think the problem lies with the cinemas themselves.

They offer very poor value for money and appalling seating. Is it any wonder why people do not choose to go to the cinema when they can sit comfortably at home and not worry about all the aches and pains they are going to get. And what's more you have to pay about 7 for the privilege. If two or more of you go you might as well get the DVD as at least then you can watch it again and again. How do you feel about this, is there a problem?
Matthew Johnston, Maidenhead, England

The reason for people pirating is due to the price. I personally prefer the originals, but lets face it, 15 quid is a lot of case for a movie, and you have to buy it again if someone scratches your DVD. Why don't I have the right to make my own personal back up copy? Surely the licence is for the content and not for the media itself?
Jason Conroy, Birmingham

What do you think of the release pattern for Steven Soderbergh's Bubble, released on simultaneous media (Cinema, DVD, Pay-Per-View) last weekend in the US?

I think it's an interesting idea. For some films, I know I want to buy them after seeing them in the cinema (eg Munich). If I could rush out and pick it up off the shelf right away that would be great, rather than have to wait four months (though thankfully the DVD window is now shrinking).
Gareth, Dublin, Ireland

When are cinema tickets and food going to come down in price? It's too expensive to go to the cinema these days. Also, when are you going to start making decent films again, all we get is sequels and re-makes, and re hashes of TV programmes. Why not try some new original material. Go on take a RISK for a change?
Bob, UK

Can you explain why I can purchase a DVD from an American web site, have it imported to the UK, pay the import duty and it is still cheaper then going into a UK shop or UK online retailer to buy it. Why do you insist on inflating the prices for the UK - surely you must realise that 99% of people have a multi-region DVD player by now.
Ash, Leeds

I would like to comment on the looming format war between HD-DVD and BluRay. Why is there such a fear that such content needs "protected." Only an idiot will believe any content protection scheme will truly stop "pirates." The PSP has been cracked again, the XBOX360's protection schemes are being defeated already.
Chris Mari sic, Erie, PA, USA

With the industry gaining power behind its push into digital distribution to the movie theatres and the quiet revelation that digital projection systems currently installed may not be compatible with the eventual standard, what will the film industry be doing to assist movie theatres in the transition to digital projection? Will distributors still distribute on film for smaller theatres that cannot afford the upgrade? Or will the film industry and the distributors be offering financial incentives to assist non-chain theatre owners and operators in transitioning to the new technology?
C. Glen Williams, Johnson City, TN - USA

What is getting to me right now is that within the next few months, there will be new hd media: the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD: There was a media-war with BetaMax and VHS, one with DIVX and DVD, and now this... why is it that movie companies, as well as the creators of media, can't stick to one choice of format? Because once one isn't as popular, it becomes extinct, and someone has a machine that is worthless, and needs to go out and buy new equipment to watch their movies.
Al Andujar, Trumbull, CT - USA

Regional codes, Prohibited User Operations (forces you to watch trailers, anti-piracy warnings), and total loss of free-use rights have all been decried numerous times regarding the current media format, DVD by your consumers.

How do you plan to address these issues in the new formats, Blu-Ray/HD-DVD in order to satisfy your consumers demands? Do you care?
Phil, Naperville, IL USA

I'd like to know if the MPAA agrees with its spokesmen who have defended the practice of prohibiting backups of DVDs by saying, "Well, you can't back up a set of crystal glasses either?" and whether, should the ability to back up a set of crystal glasses ever emerge, should the glassmakers have the right to prohibit it?
Calvin Lawson, Seattle, WA USA

Isn't it about time that in a global economy and a digitally connected world, that delays between releases in countries that speak English (in particular for Hollywood films) are eradicated? I realise market conditions (such as school holidays) affect releases, but surely it increases piracy due to demand. People wouldn't turn to BitTorrent if they didn't have to wait 3 months for something that's already released in other parts of the world.
Paul Kerton, Birmingham, UK

For the first time in history, the technical barriers to entry into making and distributing a film have been abolished. As leaders of the industry, should you not look to a new economic model to encourage more lower-budget film-makers who have good ideas, an economic model that moves away from filling auditoria in the Midwest with lowest common denominator crowd-pleasers?
Paul T Horgan, Bracknell, UK

Are theater owners ever going to do something to curtail the ill-mannered louts (mostly teens) who ruin the movie-watching experience of those of us who want to see a movie without having to listen to people carrying on conversations as though they were the only ones in the audience? Bring back ushers who can eject people who don't follow the rules. My wife and I have stopped going to some theaters because of the type of rude crowd they draw. Movie attendance will continue to fall unless theater owners do something about this. Going to the movies is no longer any fun. I would rather watch a DVD on my big screen TV at home.
Richard Holmes, Pomfret, Connecticut USA

When is the movie distribution industry going to wake up to the fact that people are not going to stop downloading films and provide a legal alternative?
Withheld, Oxford UK

Surely a good deal of international (outside the US) piracy is fuelled by the fact that films see an earlier release in the US and people want to watch them ASAP to avoid having the ending spoiled for them by newsgroups, forums, and so forth. The same goes for pirated DVDs, surely a simultaneous international launch for films would decrease the problem of piracy?

After all, you will never stop those who cant afford to go to the cinema pirating, what you need to do is stop those who only do it out of convenience.
Thomas Bloxham, Birmingham

Given that the concept of an infallible copy protection system is an impossibility, and that with broadband connection speeds increasing at such a rate that it won't be very long before you can download films faster than you can watch them, what does the panel consider to be a viable alternative to the current business model that the movie studios are based upon?
Mark Chitty, Bristol, UK

I'm totally fed up with buying DVDs only to see a director's cut/special version released soon after. As a result, I never buy new releases any more, but wait for the special version or eventually pick up the original at a reduced price.

Since it's the proper fans of a film that rush out and buy it straight away, this practice means that it's always the proper fans who get stuck with a lemon of a DVD or have to buy it all over again to get the better version (somehow I think that you are banking on this). Why not just release directors cuts along with the original DVD release.... or at least make it very public that one is in the pipeline?
Carl, Essex, UK

How has the market changed for Rental DVDs after the launch of internet based DVD Rental Companies? This appears to be a successful new business. Benefits for me are ease of collection and return and I can enjoy a wider selection. Benefits for the industry there seems to be little point in pirating, if I like it I can get it out again, also subscription models tend to make more money then multiple purchase, although I now no longer buy DVDs, or subscribe to a movie channel.
Andy Clark, Wakefield

Why is the movie industry combating the problem of piracy with lawsuits & "Don't do it" campaigns? Most home downloaders have alternate motives for downloading movies other than making a quick buck. So why hasn't the movie industry looked into these motives?

I'd also like to know why a movie released in the cinema will not be seen on DVD for many months to follow. Surely the studios haven't overlooked the fact that the majority of DVDs illegally shared are movies unavailable on DVD?
James, Cardiff

Why should I pay 15.50 (including booking charge!) for my wife and I to watch a film in a hot, smelly, grubby, crowded local theatre full of people munching, slurping and talking through the film when I can wait a few months and rent a legitimate DVD for 3.50 and enjoy it at home. The nearby multiplex is even worse. The quality of cinemas in London is at all time low, while prices are reaching ludicrous levels.
Jim Smith, London

In the beginning, pirated VHS was worse quality than legal copies, hence there was an incentive to buy legally. With DVDs, legal copies have forced (no fast-forward) adverts, region coding and CSS whereas illegal copies often do not. With the advent of high definition DVDs, legal copies will require HDCP compliant devices (players, monitors, TVs, computers etc) before they can be viewed whereas pirated copies will not contain these restrictions. How can the film industry tackle piracy when the legal copies will contain more restrictions and hassle for consumers than the cheaper pirated copies?
JamesK, London

Why don't films get released simultaneously globally and once finished at the cinema, why don't the DVDs get released simultaneously globally - at a price consistent with a cinema ticket price? Piracy is one part price and one part impatience.
Mick, Dover, UK

Why would I pay to go to a cinema with uncomfortable seating, high prices, even higher priced food, bratty kids and high gas prices when I can sit at home with my family and friends in front of a 60" plasma screen eating my food on my comfortable couch and watch a brand new movie I just downloaded for $0?
Ersal Cahit, Kitchener ON Canada

The main reason I still go to the cinema is the big screen - very different from sitting in front of a TV at home. Home sound systems are now better than the listening experience most of us get in the cinema. HDTV will let us see a higher quality picture but when will home viewing really replace the big screen?
Denis Edgar-Nevill, Canterbury, UK

I am becoming increasingly tired of distributors releasing a DVD in a blaze of promotion and hype only to see the same movie released a few weeks later as a "Directors Cut" or "Special Edition". I am so fed up of buying DVD movies upon initial release and having to buy the same movie AGAIN a few weeks later when another 6 versions are released! How long do we have to wait until it is safe to go out and spend your hard earned cash on your favourite films? Oh, and also putting money back into the studios!
Rik, Sheffield, England

I'd like to know if the MPAA still thinks that VCRs were bad for its business, and if not, if it's willing to officially repudiate Jack Valenti's 1982 statement to Congress where he called VCRs the "Boston Strangler of the American film industry." Changing the name of their new DC headquarters to something other than "The Valenti Building" would be a good start.
Bill Brittendall, Lees Summit, MO, USA

Technologies like iSmell from DigiScents, have the ability to further enrich the movie going experience. Are there any established plans to incorporate smell tracks into movie releases and theatres any time soon?
Dan Cooper, Ottawa, Canada

Can you think of any other comparable products where - like region-encoded DVDs - the manufacturer can mandate which countries you're allowed to enjoy their product in?
Tom Phillips, London, UK

Could you please reimburse me for the time (must have added up to several hours by now) that you have stolen from me by forcing me to watch anti-piracy trailers that insinuate I'm about to take part in an illegal activity when I have already paid to come to a cinema to see your films? Add that to the time wasted by watching that Macromedia intro, warnings and compulsory trailers on DVDs and I think you owe me about 40. I'll take a copy of Serenity, in lieu. Thanks.
Craig, Edinburgh

I have an iPod that can play video. I'm going on a long coach trip. Why does the mainstream industry perceive me as a criminal if I take a DVD that I've bought and pull the movie from it so as to allow me to watch my own legitimately owned property? Why does the industry want to stamp all over traditional fair use for those of us who are perfectly happy to purchase DVDs?
Steve Anderson, Pontypridd, Wales.

With the advent of digital movie recording, will this cheapen the costs of production, editing, post production, storage and delivery? In my blissful ignorance, I assume that it is less expensive to record and adjust a movie digitally rather than using celluloid, therefore costs are less and the potential for many more second-rate movies to be presented for a viewing audience a reality, do you agree?
Mike Allen, UK

Why does the industry see its customers as the source of piracy? Why is it easier to download a movie illegally than it is to do it legally?
Michael Parker, UK

Do you think that eventually digital is going to take over the whole film industry and nothing will be old fashioned film?
Michelle, Oceanside, US

While I don't deny that pirates exist and have some effect on the industry (though we may disagree how much), do you agree that one explanation for the downturn in ticket sales is because of reduced quality at the box office? It seems every other movie is a sequel or Hollywood cookie-cutter 'safe' offering that everyone's seen before, with little innovation because studios aren't prepared to take risks. What's your opinion on this?
Rikki, Chelmsford, UK

The poor showmanship and presentation is what is driving cinema audiences down. When cinema going was at it's height, it was a night out in itself. You had your main feature preceded by a supporting feature, a cartoon and some adverts. Now it's ship 'em in, ship 'em out. Unless Theatre owners get their act together then advances in digital home entertainment will kill the cinema for good. I understand why theatres have gone down the multiplex route but does it have to be so bland?
Steve Lynch, Sale, United Kingdom

Do you think advances in technology will curb piracy and bring consumers back to the cinema? And, what will Hollywood have to offer cinemagoers in the way of storytelling to incorporate these new advances? Is the future of cinema going to be all sci-fi and hi-tech stories and out with the good old fashioned romantic film?
Ray, England

Because you deny my right to decide what to do with the player I have bought, will you compensate me for your continues partial ownership of my DVD/HiDef player? If you mandate copy prevention that precludes rights, then it is still your product and not mine (since it does what you tell it to, not what I ask), then will you buy it for me? After all, without a player, you cannot sell your product to me.
Mark, Exeter, UK

I look forward to the day when films are released on DVD concurrently with their time in the cinema - even if the DVD release was a couple of weeks after the premiere. I refuse to pay the high prices to share my viewing experience with the ill-mannered idiots who frequent the cinema these days; I prefer to wait for the DVD release.

So when will this happen? Are cinemas doomed in the long term?
Karen, Leeds, England

Do you think that region-coding on DVDs was a complete waste of time, seeing as the determined pirates are stealing movies from post-production facilities ("Revenge of the Sith") and preview copies intended for the Oscar voters ("The Last Samurai" etc)? After all, the pirates only need to get hold of one print of the film, and then all the industry's digital restrictions are worthless.
Chris Rankin, Surrey

It looks like there's a battle brewing over whether HD DVD or Blu Ray will be the most successful format. There have been many competing formats for video disks (laser disks, CD-i, CD-g, VCD and Super VCD among them) and all bar DVDs have failed. Why would someone want to spend money on either of them until the format war is over? Should the user wait until drives that can read and write to both (as happened with DVD- and DVD+) become available?
Marcus Houlden, UK

Films have for many years been shot at 24 frames per second, but with the advent of digital projection, it ought to be straightforward to shoot and display at more realistic looking higher frame rates, especially for fast action scenes. Do you expect this to happen, or are most viewers so accustomed to (the sometimes juddery) 24 fps that things are unlikely to change?
Geoffrey, Cambridge, UK

Why do the movie/TV companies still insist on Region Encoding their DVD offerings? What is the point any more? Anyone who knows even a tiny amount can now buy off the shelf DVD players that can be modified within seconds. (Some might not need any work at all) Hasn't Region Encoding backfired on the studios?
Graham O'Mara, Worcester, United Kingdom

With the rise of DRM-based systems and players, is the industry going to look at seriously dropping the cost of content as people will have to look at buying the same content multiple times depending on the player?
Robbie, Rugby, UK

With digital distribution of films, why could I not use a serial number on my cinema ticket (or credit card receipt) to download the film I'd just watched on the big screen? It could have my serial number encoded into it on the fly so that you could spot if I then shared it illegally?

Oh, and why does your anti-piracy advert mention "the pirate video will be spoiled by people getting up to go to the toilet in the middle". That happens in the cinema anyway! (As does using a mobile, chatting, sweet munching, rowdy behaviour, tall people sitting in front etc. No wonder home cinema is a better experience these days).
Geoff, Milton Keynes, UK

What will it take for the industry to move away from franchising and the constant bombardment of sequels and spin offs and instead move back towards original content?
Conrad Slater, Bournemouth, UK

The greed of the film studios knows no bounds. Having just moved my favourite classic films from VHS (widescreen boxed copies) to DVD (director's cuts) I am now faced with buying the same films on HD-DVD. VHS films are much cheaper than DVD even though their production cost is higher - why? Because the premium content justifies a higher cost. Presumably HD-DVD will come out more expensive than DVD because of the premium content. Not only that but I will have to invest in a HD-TV & HD-DVD player.

My question is: Why shouldn't I buy a Pirate HD-DVD for a 5 - haven't I paid the studio enough for the same film? Are classic films, some nearly 80 years old, continuously released in new media to maintain their copyright?
John Buscema, Kidsgrove, UK

What's the difference between borrowing a friend's DVD to watch at your own home and downloading a film from someone who has purchased that film to watch at your own home?
Clive Carter, Plymouth, UK

I have to wonder what future the film industry might have after the mainstreamism of stereoscopic films. James Cameron has display interest in this field in the past, but will it catch on? Stereoscopic films could possibly reduce pirating due to the nature in which the film is presented.
Brandon Graves, Charlotte, USA

Is there resistance to change from shooting on film to digital cinema in the large movie studios? Naturally they have a lot of money invested in current film equipment, including the skills people have built up over years manipulating cameras and lenses. With the ever increasing quality and lower costs of using digital cinema, surely it is only a matter of time before film shooting is the minority instead of the majority in movies due to its higher costs?
Derek Robertson, Arbroath, Scotland

Can you envisage a time when there is almost simultaneous release of product in the cinema, through rental outlets, in the high street and online, leaving the customer to choose his preferred way of viewing?

With modern home cinema systems, I can imagine a lot of demand for this. We have a two-year-old and don't get out much!
Jon Gardner, Kingston-upon-Thames, UK

As we are on the brink of a new domestic digital film distribution medium (HD-DVD and/or Blu-Ray) what are the film companies going to do about cinemas?

The standard of domestic displays at home has improved. A new HD-Cinema standard is long due otherwise more and more people will not spend money at the box office and instead wait for movies to be available on retail and watch them at home.
Massimiliano Guidi, Thornton Heath, Surrey

Isn't it time that, instead of suing movie and television downloaders who just want to watch movies easily, quickly and cheaply, the movie industry instead offered a legal download service like the music industry has done? People like convenience and downloading movies to their computer to watch at leisure and it could bring in a lot of financial rewards to the movie industry.
James Lamont, Norwich, UK

I don't download movies as I like the experience of seeing it at a cinema rather on my computer screen. However, I know for a fact that you can get a high quality film (not a low quality camera in a theatre as your advertising proclaims) downloaded in under an hour, which is about the same time as I am forced to sit through endless adverts and previews at the Cinema (which I have paid 6.50 to watch), ending with an advert having the gall to tell me not to download movies! Do you think that the amount of advertising and the high prices found in cinemas is turning people off going, resulting in more DVD sales and illegal downloads?
Douglas Lock, Canterbury, UK

Some people say that commercial cinema is going to become extinct, due to the lack of patronage caused by the home entertainment systems people are buying in ever greater numbers. There is no doubt that evidence for this trend exists, especially given the poor results of the U.S. box office this past year.

How do you think the cinema and film industries are going to change to try to pull viewers with home systems back into commercial cinemas? Can they? Will they? What is being done?
Hymen Atomie, New York, NY

With the latest wave of lawsuits against downloaders (or as you call them "pirates") to stop people from trading files illegally, realistically how much illegal downloading to you expect to ultimately eliminate (100%, 50%, etc) and in what time period do you expect to accomplish that percentage (1 year, 2, etc.)?
Phil Satterley, Littleton, CO USA

With the ability to deliver films digitally and therefore distributing films to all enabled cinemas cheaper, would it be likely that a chain may show a smaller independent film one night a week and be able to promote the same film the same night nationally, giving exposure to independent film-makers and driving a real passion for cinema across the country?
Dan Smith, London

Would the digital medium replace film itself because, as a film student, I believe that while digital films are helpful for editing, computer graphics, and sound design the experience of watching real film with its emulsion ruggedness should never be replaced. They appear more beautiful than these new technologies.
Gregory Brown, Austin, Texas, United States

Is the film industry equipped to adapt to a low-budget market if profits continue to fall? Independent cinema's popularity and profitability continues to rise, proving that expensive effects and cookie cutter plots are not universally appealing. I even witnessed an entire theatre groan and boo during King Kong which, for some reason, critics like.
David Dineen-Porter, Toronto, Canada

Even if the region-coding exists on HD DVDs, will there be a universal standard for the resolution of the HD signal? Both on TV and on DVD?
Roger Brown, Vancouver, Canada

Given that peer-to-peer technologies give unprecedented opportunities to independent artists, is the reason the "industry" executives in this panel hate peer-to-peer so much because you fear the competition that will arise from its popularity?
Alex H, Sydney, Australia

I understand that the theatre industry's primary goal is to rent seats and to sell sugar, but is there a possibility of the venture being more affordable? It seems each year the ticket price goes up considerably, will it ever level off?
Dustin B, San Diego, USA

What is going to be the cost of these future technological developments? Are we going to see an extra pound placed on top of our cinema tickets, or another 4 on a High Definition DVD? What is the future for pay-per-view films?
Craig Mason, Oxford, UK

What is a film like projected digitally? Is the quality the same as HDTV will be, or higher? How will the industry cope if HDTV on massive wall screens at home, is of a superior quality than digital on screen?
Kelvin Nel, Romford England

Is the film industry learning anything from the negative public reaction the music industry is receiving, for the way it seems to be attacking and criminalising even their legitimate paying customers?

Does the industry recognise that whatever is done to make movies available on-line, when it comes to a favourite movie, people will always want to 'own' a tangible piece of incorruptible and multi-device media like a DVD; not just a temporary 'licence' to watch a downloaded film from a hard drive that may fail at any moment?
JJ Railton, Southampton, UK

My personal opinion about the piracy issue is the fact that the people who are fighting the piracy issue are fighting a losing battle. What causes people to illegally copy/download movies is the price of the retail DVD when it's released. If prices are dropped down, people wouldn't mess around with downloading/copying as people could get more DVDs for their money if the DVD retail prices are lowered down. What's your view?
Gavin Thomas, North East, England, UK

The film industry is on the verge of a massive influx of consumer cash, as people rush to buy HD-DVD versions of films they have already owned on VHS then DVD. Will this money be frittered away on share bonuses or invested in revolutionising Film? The digital age could make it more possible to make more interesting less expensive movies, as reaching the target market becomes easier - will this happen?
Kev Conroy, Southampton, UK

Will we ever see an era of a more interactive movie experience? With all films being shown in 3-D with the smells, the temperature and the fully immersive effects that would put you in the movie?
James Humphreys, Ramsbottom

It really doesn't matter how much the movie industry improves its technology. Box office takings are down and the main reason is the cinema going experience is no longer an enjoyable one. I used to go and watch a film a couple of times a month but now I only go a few times a year.

It's not the quality of the movies that has dropped but the anti-social behaviour of certain members of the audience. Every single visit to the cinema I made last year was spoiled by people with mobile phones or rowdy behaviour. The last film I saw was a 9pm showing of King Kong and in my row of seats was a two year old who disrupted the entire movie.

What I, and all of my friends would like to see the industry investing in, is more trained staff who can stand in the auditorium throughout the showing and either give warnings to the unruly few or have the power to eject them from the cinema. That's the real reason people prefer to watch at home.
Bob James, London uk

Top directors James Cameron, George Lucas and Peter Jackson have said 3D Digital cinema is the future. What are your thoughts on their prediction?
Ged Burnell, York

With highly efficient gaming systems quickly becoming the centre of many consumers' living rooms, how does the film industry see itself adapting to new technologies such as HD DVDs? And also what format is the frontrunner for playing these discs, Blu Ray or HD DVD?
Carter, Memphis, USA

I have a deaf child who depends on subtitles for his film enjoyment. Almost every TV show and DVD release has subtitles, and I understand that hundreds of cinemas in the UK and US now routinely show the latest films with subtitles and audio description, for hearing or visually impaired people.

I believe that any cinema with a digital projector can switch subtitles on or off, much like a dvd player, provided the film is available with subtitle 'files' (most popular films are).

With this in mind, are there plans for future digitally equipped cinemas to have regular subtitled or described shows? I know for a fact that 'accessible' shows are very much appreciated by many (including my son and his friends).
Derek Brandon, London, England

I remember some years ago the introduction of Virtual Reality (VR) goggles. I felt and saw the development with these, but suddenly they faded away and they are not discussed at all. Is the technology still there, and is there a future with them?
Derek Mason, Washington, DC

What's the future of the theatrical business if consumers can pay for seeing the movie at home on initial release of a film? Is the cable industry in the UK poised to show films to the home audience on the same day as theatrical release from European/UK film companies? Stephen Geering, Ojai, CA - USA

SEE ALSO
Digital film: Industry answers
09 Feb 06 |  Entertainment
Digital music: Industry answers
24 Jan 06 |  Entertainment
Digital music: Ask the industry
13 Jan 06 |  Entertainment
Set the entertainment news agenda
14 Nov 05 |  Entertainment

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