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2006 Trends in Entertainment
January 4, 2006

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

When it comes to entertainment, 2006 has all the earmarks of being a revolutionary year.

1. On-demand Delivery

Technological progress promises to continue to realign the show business pecking order.

The iPod phenomenon forever altered the music business by placing maximum control into the individual's hands. When President Bush and Vice President Cheney are sporting iPods, we know that any generation gap that previously existed has dissolved, and entertainment autonomy has got the momentum.

Now some techno relatives are poised to revolutionize the film and TV industries as well. Video podcasting and Web-based on-demand technology are set to peel off a sizable portion of the theater-going and DVD-viewing market.

The release routine of the past, where movies were initially displayed in theaters and DVD release was postponed until a later date, is transforming, too.

Stephen Soderbergh plans to release his movie "Bubble" simultaneously in theaters and on DVD and cable. Disney is discussing a similar approach for its films.

Actor Morgan Freeman is working with Intel (through a company called ClickStar) to provide independent films via the Web at the same time their theatrical releases occur.

2. Hollywood Invasion

With technology revolutionizing the way entertainment is delivered, look for companies with Internet and computer expertise to be prowling the Tinseltown terrain.

Hollywood executives have been peering over their shoulders and speculating as to what the eventual impact of Google, Inc. is going to be.

Evidently, Google intends to sell a PC-like device with its own non-Microsoft operating system through Wal-Mart. With a very user-friendly appliance and a low price relative to personal computers, Google could secure a complete pipeline to end users.

As Google enters the world of video-on-demand, Hollywood fears of being edged out of the delivery process mount. If movies and TV shows can be downloaded through the Google search engine, the big studios will have to either collaborate or purchase competitors.

Cable companies, too, are watching with apprehension as Google offers wireless Internet to San Francisco.

3. Sequels, Remakes and Recycled Products

Hollywood's total revenue for 2005 was 5 percent below 2004, with attendance down 6 percent. For the first time since 2001, the box office brought in less than $9 billion, the largest drop in 20 years.

As a result, Hollywood's already nervous executives are retreating further into their risk-averse shells.

What's in the works for 2006? Here's a sampling:

  • Sequels like Sony's "Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction," Fox's "Ice Age 2: The Meltdown," Paramount's "Mission Impossible III," Fox's "X-Men 3" and Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

  • Remakes like Sony's "The Pink Panther," Fox's "The Omen 666," Sony's "Casino Royale" (the first one was a spoof) and Warner's "Superman Returns."

  • Recycled television shows-turned-movies like Universal's "Miami Vice," recycled Broadway musicals-turned-movies like Paramount's "Dreamgirls" and recycled classics-turned-movies like Fox's "Tristan & Isolde" and Sony's "Marie Antoinette."

4. Red State Consumption

Fortunately, because 2005 ended with "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" becoming the fourth-highest-grossing film of the year (giving a drubbing to "King Kong"), more product that is geared to "fly-over country" is emerging.

Walden Media, which produced "Narnia" outside the conventional Hollywood infrastructure, will release the children's classic "Charlotte's Web." And Mel Gibson's Icon Productions will distribute "Apocalypto" through Disney.

Look for other films influenced by "Passion of the Christ" and "Narnia" to arrive at a theater, video iPod, computer screen, cable channel, DVD player or cell phone near you.

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

Copyright © 2006
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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