Digital disruption hits the flicks

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26 April 2012

Australian film makers could benefit from the digital distribution disruption which has now reached the movie world, writes Beverly Head for ITwire.

Just as books and music have undergone distribution revolutions, the film industry is now, courtesy of increasingly ubiquitous and faster broadband communications networks, enduring a major shift which is impacting content creation, distribution and the ability to protect intellectual property.

According to Professor Stuart Cunningham, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation the range of choice for consumers will, as a result, become much broader.“Over time I hope there would be greater opportunities for Australian product to be available in the home at the flick of a button.

“But the dollars have still got to stack up,” he warned. Professor Cunningham is the co-author, along with Professor Dina Iordanova of the University of St Andrews, of a new book called Digital Disruption: Cinema Moves Online which explores how Hollywood titans such as Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Disney and Paramount are now pitted against online distributors such as Apple i-Tunes, Amazon, Netflix and YouTube.

Part of the challenge for the established film companies according to Professor Cunningham is that Hollywood has failed to so far to successfully decouple film production and distribution. Meanwhile the new online distribution environment is giving “rise to new content that never had a change under the old oligopoly,” he said.

While Hollywood is still struggling to transform itself for the new environment, it does not seem likely to repeat the mistakes made in the past by booksellers and music companies he said. “The big players have learned the lessons of the wars Sony waged against Napster and teenagers in their bedrooms singing karaoke.

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