Movie Price Determined by Screen Size?

Instead of paying for a movie based on its resolution or picture quality, how would you like to pay based on your screen size?

This is what Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg wants you to do.

Of all the bone headed…

Now look, Mr. Katzenberg has a pretty impressive track record (his support for SOPA not withstanding). But this plan seems like it would punish those of us with home theaters.

“Those who watched on a ‘movie screen’ would pay the most while those using smartphones would only pay a small fee, Jeffrey Katzenberg said.”

OK, what about us with big TVs? Projectors?

”The pricing model he suggested was $15 (£9) per film for a movie-sized screen, $4 (£2.40) for a 75in (190cm) TV and $1.99 (£1.20) for a smartphone.”

His main bone to throw was that the movie would be in the theaters for 3 weeks, then you could download it.

I have questions. Would 90-inch TV owners pay more? 50-inch, less? It’s possible that instead of “screen size” what he really meant was device. It’s a lot easier for a studio exec, someone in charge of their movies on all screens, to categorize it this way. So then it’s really just the difference in picture quality/resolution like we have now, just described in a different, non-techy way.

Still, there are problems. My HTC One has a 1080p screen. Even though it has, for a phone, a generous 4.7-inch display, you still need to hold it close to your face. It’s pretty easy to tell, even with YouTube videos, what the resolution of the feed is.

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

So is the “smartphone” stream lower resolution, and if so, why am I forced to watch a blurry picture? Or, if it isn’t lower resolution, what’s stopping me from buying the “smartphone” version for my theater. My computer has HDMI out (and is connected to my projector), what about that? And if I can just “upgrade” and buy the (presumably higher resolution) TV version for my phone, then how is this any different than what we have now, other than to be needlessly confusing?

And then there’s another issue, how would they know what I’m watching it on? What if I download it to my phone, and streamed it to my TV (Apple Airplay, Google Chromecast)?

Or lets guess worst case, because Hollywood studios love doing everything they can to punish their customers. Let's say it is literally based on screen size. Do I pay for a 100-inch version, because that’s my screen? What if I zoom in and make a 50-inch image on my screen, can I pay less. Do DLP owners pay less than LCOS, because the chips are smaller. Oh no! Do LCOS and LCD owners pay triple because there are three "screens"?

Like I said, I have questions.

And if you were in any doubt or illusions about moviemaking, Katzenberg summed up the studio position nicely:

”Movies are not a growth business”

Well, that about says it all, doesn’t it.

MatthewWeflen's picture

Yeah, sorry Katzenberg, but paying different prices for the same 1920x1080 file would be asinine. Native resolution seems like the only reasonable (and enforceable) price differentiator. Offer SD, 2k and 4k for different prices if you like.