Iger Predicts "Profound Changes" In Movie Business
Saying that the movie industry "is changing right before our eyes in profound ways," Disney chief Robert Iger said Saturday that those running the business will also have to make profound changes "or you will no longer have a business." Speaking at an entertainment conference hosted by the USC Gould School of Law and the Beverly Hills Bar Association, Iger singled out the DVD business, which continues to slide by double digits annually. The advent of home theaters and high-definition Blu-ray discs has not halted the skid, Iger said, noting that the average family already has around 80 movies in their libraries and they're not replacing their older discs with Blu-ray equivalents in the way that they once replaced VHS tapes with discs. "We have seen some but not as much as we would like," he remarked. Moreover, he said, people have found other ways to entertain themselves at home, noting that his 11- and 7-year-old sons would rather play videogames. ("They are the best laboratory I know," he remarked.) He indicated that in order to bolster the home-video business, the window between the time a movie is released in theaters and on DVD must be shortened. "In order to keep the DVD business vital, that product has to be perceived as being fresh," he said. Moreover, he suggested the long delay from theater to disc has given pirates an opportunity to move in. "In South Korea, it obliterated the secondary market so much so that we closed our home-video operations," Iger told his audience. He stopped short of announcing that Disney will move up its home-video release schedule, noting that his previous hints that the company would do so brought howls of protests from theater owners. Besides, he said, "I don't want to make too many headlines today." Another speaker at the conference, WME Co-chairman Ari Emanuel, suggested that the industry needs to enlist the air of government to crack down on pirates. He applauded the French government for passing legislation that requires Internet Service Providers to cut off users after warning them twice about illegal downloading.