The studios seem to be playing the cash grab game and it's making me nervous. It wasn't pretty watching the music industry go down the tubes, but I'm not terribly concerned about it. Self-producing and releasing music is relatively cheap these days and, while this may be hard to believe, I won't shed a single tear as the major labels go down with the ship.
The movie industry is another story. No, I don't have a personal attachment to any of the studios, but making movies ain't cheap, so we kinda need them. This is why I'm disappointed to see them shift focus to 3-D films. There are a bunch of 3-D releases on the way (including Toy Story 3) and the studios just announced an offer to convert 10,000 theaters to 3-D, which the exhibitors have yet to accept. I'm definitely in favor of improving the movie-going experience, but do you really think the Hannah Montana movie was a success because of an additional dimension? (Actually, a lot of people say it was just savvy marketing.) I would think there is more money to made pumping movies directly into all those new home theaters, but I guess that's not as flashy.
Compared to IFC's recent deal with Blockbuster, 3-D seems completely innocuous. The deal gives Blockbuster 60 days of exclusive access to rentals and downloads before any retail copies can be sold and three years of rental exclusivity. So if you use Netflix or an independent store, you won't be able to rent any future IFC release until 2011 at the earliest. This has caused problems in the video game world — I wrote about Madden and EA a while ago — and will only confuse and frustrate movie fans. As the Reeler points out, this is not terribly independent of IFC.
My biggest fear is that the movie industry learns nothing from their audio-only brethren and continues to make it difficult for me to spend money. The 3-D issue seems misguided, but I may just be suffering from fuddy-duddy-ness. Signing exclusive deals seems like just another reason for consumers to find the quickest path to a movie without regard to legality.