New Movie Players Arrive To Feed Appetite For Content

With so many new media channels down which to push (or even pull) content, more and more private equity groups and others are gathering up content via what might have traditionally been regarded as the hard way – getting in to movies. Liberty Media Corporation’s John Malone funds ex-MGM chairman Chris McGurk’s Overture Films, investors including Merrill Lynch have given ex-Paramount vice-chairman Robert G. Friedman $1 billion to start Summit Entertainment, and CBS is looking to start a film operation, too. Movies are the hot new, ticket, says this piece in Business Week – but in this digital age, the big question: why go so big?

BW: “In a word: distribution. As the world quickly goes digital with so many new ways to deliver entertainment directly to consumers, Malone and [CBS’ Leslie] Moonves see movie-making as a huge opportunity to feed a fast-growing electronic maw of downloads and video-on-demand. What’s more, when they look out at the bloated infrastructures of the established studios, these new entrants figure getting into the game now makes perfect sense, especially with leaner operations that get a boost from new technologies.”

Is there room for a new, nimbler breed of studio to seize the advantage? If the evolution of technology tells us one thing, it’s that more can get done faster, cheaper and better than with older methods of production – remember Blair Witch Project? Not only that, but the proliferation of VOD, mobile, web and other platforms is creating a near-neverending demand for content – and there’s only so many re-runs anyone can bear – so may there be a digital gap to fill for cheap new flicks?