Tag Archives: tv

The failure of The Artist

Silent movie The Artist may have won five Oscars last night, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, but in Brazil – a country of almost 200m people – only 144,840 people in 51 theatres have paid to watch it (HT to @brazzil for the stats).

This may seem like a terrific failure in the cultural taste of Brazilian movie-goers. Language is no excuse, because the film has almost no dialogue. Many are asking the question why so few in Brazil have been to see the movie.

But surely the answer is obvious?

Walk down any major street in urban Brazil and there will be a guy on the corner selling DVDs. The going rate is usually three movies for R$10. That’s about USD $2 a movie. Now check out how much it costs to go and watch a movie at the cinema. I looked just now at the cinema inside the Bourbon shopping centre in Pompeia, São Paulo for a ticket for Hugo tonight – normal tickets are R$40 each.

To be fair, this is an IMAX movie and therefore a little more than a regular presentation, but even so it is a real ticket price for a movie that is on right here in Brazil in a theatre tonight.

So even a person who is fairly honest and doesn’t like supporting DVD piracy has to compare R$40 to watch one movie in the theatre with R$10 to watch three on DVD – twelve movies for the price of one.

This problem is also compounded by the legitimate DVD market, which is like the legitimate cinema, just overpriced.

The public in Brazil have voted with their feet. Water cannot run uphill… if pirate movies are a twelfth of the cost of the legal version then who will pay the “correct” price. Only those who want the full cinema experience, those who refuse to support piracy at any price, and those who managed to get a date with a girl and know that a pirate DVD will not impress.

I still go to the cinema myself and I like the communal, inclusive experience… being surrounded by that big Dolby sound and hundreds of other people all watching the same movie, but I don’t watch every single movie in the theatre. I bought a pirate copy of The Artist – and it was watermarked as a DVD that came from the Academy Award judging process… so one of those judges allowed their DVD to leak and be copied for millions around the world to watch almost for free.

The real answer to piracy is not to go out arresting the guys selling DVDs on the street, it is to make the legitimate route to enjoying a movie easier than buying a pirate – and good value. At present there is no incentive for anyone to keep supporting cinema tickets and legitimate DVDs when they are priced so much higher than the pirates.

Of course the argument goes that if everyone bought pirate films the movie industry would collapse – which is nonsense. It would just move from a model funded by tickets and DVDs to product placement and sponsorship – a process that is already developing anyway. Morgan Spurlock financed an entire film this way in 2011.

Services like Netflix are offering Brazilians unlimited movies for R$15 a month. Of course it depends on having good broadband, and many people don’t have the technical ability to hook up a computer to a TV, but Internet-enabled TVs are standard today. As this latest generation of TVs rolls out with tools like Netflix built-in and on the remote control, it will be easy to click a button to get any movie from a library of millions – easier than going out and selecting from a limited range of pirate DVDs.

And this model is affordable too… that monthly charge is less than half the price of one ticket to see Hugo tonight at the cinema.

The recorded music industry is finally seeing this, with services such as Spotify taking off and killing the illegal copying of music because the legal route is so much easier. But it took years for the record companies to ever understand that they need a new business model – not more litigation. Let’s just hope the movie business doesn’t make all the same mistakes they did…

Oscars 2007

Photo by Donna Grayson licensed under Creative Commons

Music – time to start thinking again

I saw a gorgeous concert on Friday night at the Teatro Municipal theatre in São Paulo. The theatre itself was something quite special and has been closed for years for renovation – only to open again about a month ago.
Teatro Municipal

As you can see from the location of my foot, we had front row seats and the orchestra was located immediately on stage with no pit or other barrier – the violins were right in front of my seat.Front row at the theatre

The music was great, a mixture of Tchaikovsky (No. 1 piano concerto) and a couple of Dvorak pieces, including his 8th symphony. It’s nice to hear music that I do regularly play on my iPod, but the difference with a large orchestra compared to a stereo recording is the call-response nature of the orchestra sections. When you are sitting there in person, it’s just nice to hear the strings play a phrase, to be echoed through various parts of the orchestra.

As I was sitting there listening to the music though, it did start me thinking about how hard it is to just switch off and listen to music these days. When I was a kid I would lie on the floor, or in bed, listening to every note of an album. Now music tends to be something consumed while running, or working… just in the background and not worthy of switching off the phone or Internet.

Have we all lost our attention span to the extent that stopping to focus on something for over one hour feels unusual? Dvorak's 8th

Sexism in football – and the Pope is a Catholic?

Football is a sport dominated by men and so the pervasive culture of the game is male-oriented. It is usually just sexist, but at worst, just plain misogynistic. So it’s no surprise to hear the off-air comments by Sky pundits Richard Keys and Andy Gray where they complain about a female assistant referee officiating a game.

It might be true that sexism is still part of football culture, but that doesn’t make it acceptable to judge professionals on the basis of gender alone. As many other pundits have found, comments about race lead to certain sacking – who knows if Sky will judge these comments as strongly?

Can someone tell me the difference?

They deserve to be fired just for perpetuating these stereotypically macho views in the public domain – even if they did not expect their comments to be broadcast.

If those who lead the game can’t even deal with sexism then how will they ever deal with the endless racism and homophobia that continues to blight the game. Come on Sky, give them the boot. This is the 21st Century, we don’t need these ‘Gene Hunt’-era “experts” on TV…

——

Richard Keys: Well, somebody better get down there and explain offside to her.

Andy Gray: Yeah, I know. Can you believe that? Female linesman. Forget what I said – they probably don’t know the offside rule.

RK: Course they don’t.

AG: Why is there a female linesman? Somebody’s fucked up big.

RK: I can guarantee you there’ll be a big one today. Kenny [Dalglish, Liverpool’s manager] will go potty. This is not the first time. Didn’t we have one before?

AG: Yeah.

RK: Wendy Toms.

AG: Wendy Toms, something like that. She was fucking hopeless as well.

RK: [exasperated groan]

AG: [inaudible]

RK: No, no, it’s got to be done, it’s good. The game’s gone mad. See charming Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Yeah. Do me a favour, love.
Brazil v Sweden, Emirates Stadium

Clicks vs. Bricks

Here is an interesting difference between retail in the UK and Brazil – the Brazilian stores consider the Internet site for their own company to be in competition with them. It’s not all about promoting a single brand, or offering the consumer a variety of channels to purchase a product – the high street stores think they have to compete against the Internet site of their company.

I went to buy a TV recently and the price in the store was a full R$1000 more than the online price in the same store – that’s about £400. I asked for them to match the web price for their own company and then offer me a discount on top if I would pay immediately – in Brazil most expensive purchases are spread over a year or two so it’s not so common for someone to pay it all up front.

The guy in the store couldn’t offer me anything – I might as well have just ordered from the online site. He even talked about how bad the service is from the website and if I buy from them, I can’t come to a store complaining if it does not work. Yes, a store from the same chain.

And yesterday I went to buy a pretty cheap Samsung laser printer. It was on the website for about £110 and £160 in the store. Again, when I asked for the web price they were a bit surprised someone had checked, the manager came over, and eventually they agreed to match the web price of their own website.

But what is really shocking is the percentages involved. That printer was about 50% more expensive in store compared to online. The TV was about 35% more expensive than online. These are huge figures and what’s surprising – to me – is the attitude the Brazilian store managers take to their own website.

It seems the retail revolution of the 90s we enjoyed in London has come to Brazil, but the managers of the regular stores hate it that their margins are exposed so openly to consumers. Wait until the shoppers here start using price comparison sites…

TV at Betfair

BBC Radio 4: The Secret History of Social Networking

BBC Technology editor, Rory Cellan-Jones, is launching a new radio series on BBC radio 4 on January 26th titled ‘The Secret History of Social Networking.’ It’s a view on how far social networks have come, where they came from, and where they might head to in future.

What is particularly interesting for me is that my wedding in Ealing on December 3rd last year features right at the start of the series, as an example of just how far things have come… I used Facebook to invite guests to the wedding and communicate the agenda for the day.
Angelica-and-Mark-wedding_DSC4104

Facebook was useful because almost all my family and friends are on there. It’s true, there are some Facebook refuseniks and I had to update them by text message, and some partners of friends are not always on my friend list, but on the whole I managed to update everyone using a Facebook event.
Facebook wedding invitation

It was an amazing day and I’m fortunate enough to have arranged a repeat of the day out in São Paulo soon. The BBC radio crew filmed a large section of my wedding in London for use in website trailers for the radio programme, so I’m going to edit together footage from their video and arrange my Brazilian wedding inside an old city centre cinema. We can watch some of the London footage and repeat the ceremony in front of a cinema audience before getting an old London Routemaster bus to transport us across the city to a restaurant for a bit of a post-second-wedding-party…

I’m looking forward to hearing Rory’s programme, though we had consumed a fair amount of Champagne by the time he started recording questions so if any of it sounds slurred then please forgive me – he should have recorded the speech parts early in the morning!
Mark and Angelica-5017

Bushtucker trial for the insects

I’m a vegetarian, and I have been for a couple of decades now, but I accept that most people around me eat meat and fish. I don’t have a problem with that, but is there any philosophical reason why it is different to raise and kill an animal for food, rather than just for entertainment?

Most British people opposed fox-hunting for this reason. There was a large number of vocal people who campaigned to save the tradition of hunting foxes, but most people felt that charging around the countryside and killing an animal for no reason other than a good day out was in poor taste.

So, I’m always intrigued how the ‘bushtucker trials’ on the ITV show ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here’ can involve plenty of killing and eating of live animals, yet it’s all supposed to be good fun…

If it is OK to munch away on live animals on a TV show because they are ‘just’ insects then why wouldn’t it be acceptable to have some live cat or dog eating on the same show?

Ladybird on ATM

Costa and the Chimps

Who gave the green light to the first TV ad campaign by Costa Coffee?

I can fondly remember the PG Tips ads of the 70s, featuring Chimpanzees, but I thought advertisers had realised long ago that using primates in commercials was not cool?

Clearly nobody told the people at Costa as they have dozens of them attempting to make coffee in this ‘hilarious’ ad. Is it just politically correct to think that using captive animals in TV ads is just a bit strange these days?

Banksy - I Hate Mondays