[opendtv] Will the iPod culture keep shrinking our beloved big-screen treasures until they're this tiny?

  • From: Monty Solomon <monty@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: undisclosed-recipient:;
  • Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2006 00:08:41 -0400

Will the iPod culture keep shrinking our beloved big-screen treasures 
until they're this tiny?

A film critic looks at the little picture and the legal and technical 
issues behind it

By Ty Burr, Globe Staff  |  April 23, 2006

I'm watching the attack on Aqaba sequence from ''Lawrence of Arabia" 
on my iPod.

It looks like an insurrection on an ant farm.

This could be insanity. Or it could be the way our kids may someday 
watch movies: if not on an iPod, then on a similar portable device 
bigger than a postage stamp and smaller than a kitchen television. 
Rend your garments and wail over the death of the big-screen 
experience all you want, movies are slowly and unstoppably becoming 
disassociated from the theaters in which we've been seeing them for 
more than a century.

That's why I spent a recent week experimenting with watching various 
films on the really small screen. I was trying to peer into the 
future. What I got were strained eyes and a sense of what works and 
what never ever will.

The road here has been a long one. First there was TV: In the 1950s, 
Hollywood responded to millions of moviegoers' staying home to catch 
Uncle Miltie and ''I Love Lucy" by giving us widescreen, color, and 
stereophonic sound. The home-video rental boom of the 1980s broadened 
the divide, and when the studios figured out that consumers would buy 
DVDs and watch them on their home theaters, the tail started wagging 
the dog: US DVD sales were $15.7 billion last year versus $8.8 
billion in box-office revenues. All the ink spilled in 2005 about the 
woeful state of the box office, accurate or not, reflected a real 
perceptual paradigm shift: The masses may not need movie theaters 

Elsewhere, popular culture has been breaking away from traditional 
modes of delivery. The iPod and other portable MP3 players have 
snapped the bond between record stores and music listeners, raising 
the single back into prominence and establishing the playlist as a 
statement of personal cool. The personal digital recorder revolution 
kicked off by TiVo players has freed TV viewers from the scheduling 
grid and thrown advertisers into a panic. Short films carom around 
the Internet, landing in our e-mail in boxes and on our cellphones. 
We're living in one of those weird evolutionary spurts biologists 
like to talk about, but this time it's affecting how we inform and 
amuse ourselves.

Now movies are beginning to make the jump. Studios are releasing 
versions for the Sony Playstation Portable -- they haven't been 
selling very well -- and everyone's trying to figure out how to make 
the latest box-office hits available on the Internet without giving 
away the store to pirates. On April 3, Movielink (www.movielink.com) 
began offering titles from six major studios for download to your 
computer. The catch? You can only watch them on your computer, or 
transfer them to up to two other computers via DVD. But you can't 
watch that DVD on your DVD player. The price -- $20 to $30 for new 
titles -- may also be an obstacle.

But the evolutionary urge of users is being driven by the desire for 
ease and efficiency, not difficulty and Balkanization. When ABC made 
episodes of ''Lost" and ''Desperate Housewives" available on iTunes 
last fall, the demand was strong enough for the other networks to 
jump right in. It seems only a matter of time before movies follow 

So why not watch films on your iPod, especially when the technology 
exists to easily put them there?



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