Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Thanks, Thor! Hollywood Sells Some Discs After All.

Hollywood hopes that its UltraViolet cloud plan, and/or Apple’s iTunes cloud plan, and/or Amazon’s cloud plan, will help it sell more discs, which consumers have been running away from all year.

I’m dubious that the ability to stream movies you own to multiple devices will do much to change that. Because with a handful of exceptions (like kids’ movies), most people don’t want to own movies. They’re only going to watch them once, which means rentals are the way to go.

Still, if you’re going to make an argument in good faith, it’s important to note evidence that undercuts your theory.

So here you go: Turns out that Hollywood has sold a bunch of movies in the last few weeks. Specifically, it has sold a lot of Blu-ray versions of “Thor,” a re-release of the “Star Wars” discs, “X-Men: First Class” and a few other titles, according to sales tracker IHS.

I can see why the “Star Wars” discs would have some appeal to buyers — there’s a huge fan base that will buy just about anything George Lucas puts out, and at least some of those movies are classics that appeal to the rest of us, too. But unless I missed something, “Thor” was one of many superhero movies that came out this summer to a flat reception. Hard to see why that one would boom on Blu-ray.

Do note that the Blu-ray increases are from a low base, and that regular DVD sales are still dropping, which means that overall disc sales are flat. Still, if the last couple weeks represent a trend instead of a blip, that’s good news for the studios. Let’s see what happens when “Captain America” goes on sale toward the end of the month.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald