King Kong is coming out on DVD on April 10th. In and of itself, that isn’t extraordinary — it’s been a few months since it hit the theatre, and now those interested in Peter Jackson’s take on the tale, but didn’t want to be bothered with sticky floors, ringing cellphones, commercials and overpriced vats of food can watch it in the privacy of their own homes. (Why they even had wait a few months is another discussion for another time).
That week, millions of people will trundle off to their local Best Buy or Blockbuster or rip open a package from Amazon, and pop King Kong into their DVD player. Unless they live in Europe, where instead, they can download it.
For the first time ever, a major Hollywood movie will be available for downloading on the same day as the DVD release. A non-self-destructing file, unlike other downloads in the past; and while it is more expensive than just purchasing the DVD, they will also send a physical copy of the DVD. Right. A physical backup copy for the downloaded digital file. And also, to give the consumer more choices on when and where to play the movie.
If successful in Europe, it’s only a matter of time before they try it here: and that will be long after shared copies of those downloads have already made it here. Given the time difference between here and Europe, it’s possible that a shared download of Kong will be played on some college kids laptop before his local DVD store even opens.
But maybe, just maybe, the movie studios will look at what they call “piracy” as indicators of demand — what people are willing to pay for if it was only available — as opposed to indicators of just how contemptible their audience actually is. If so, it’s another major step to anything, anytime, anywhere.
But this would imply that the studios have some sort of respect for their audiences, when all evidence indicates that studio heads don’t have a clue that an audience is out there. Still, I should applaud a giant leap forward for Europe and all that.