Mamo #311: Gandolfinito

Mamo returns to audio podcasting to look at what James Gandolfini did for the evolution of television – and by extension, perhaps, the evolution of everything we (and Steven Spielberg and George Lucas) have been talking about.

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Matt Price

Where’s 310? What happened to 310? Ok here it is:

Matthew Fabb

Damn… I missed it. However, these days I’m not on Twitter as I’m using Google+ a lot more.

All this talk of $50 ticket prices, when it’s ALREADY HAPPENED! World War Z had it’s $50 ticket prices. Sure they added popcorn and the movie digitally, but I think that’s how it will happen first. I’m just surprised that World War Z was first rather than some bigger franchise.

Forget 2025 and Avengers 7, I would be surprised if there isn’t an $50 ticket with extras for Avengers 2. They would be stupid not to, as I think a lot of people would take that. Of course, that won’t be the ONLY way to see the movie, but that tier pricing is starting.

Also while attached to format, I think I’ve mentioned here before that VIP seating in 3D at SilverCity Oakville is going for $22.25. I’ve gone to a couple of these screenings on opening weekends for big movies to avoid line-ups and they are always sold out.

Rick Vance

I just finished watching 6.2 this morning and I don’t think anything will ever take this crown.

The way The Sopranos managed to effortless blend contained episodes and varying length arcs all the same time while providing the most real characters I have ever seen on TV is nothing short of a master stroke.

Rick Vance

I do find the often said claim of “This 3 hour movie didn’t work it should have probably been a 12 hour HBO thing” suspect. In fact I find the entire idea that making things longer automatically improves their quality suspect.

Matthew Fabb

Making something longer doesn’t automatically improve their quality, but sometimes a 2 or even 3 hour movie is too short to have all the beats required to tell a story.

World War Z, although I’ve yet to see the movie is one of the examples in the adaption that would likely have been better as a tv series told over a longer period of time, considering the book was a series of integrated short stories.

Y The Last Man is another example, as producers are currently talking about having the whole series told in just one movie, as they don’t think it would be viable as a franchise broken over several movies. It’s on the road story seems like something that would fit great with tv and told over several years.

Final example would be Joss Whedon’s Serenity, which apparently took the main plot of the Firefly season 2 and wrapped it up in 2 hours. Now personally, I enjoyed Serenity a lot, but it’s definitely something where the smaller beats and longer story was lost in the process.


I don’t no know much about movies but I do know a bit about product launches and retail. The model will be driven by whatever creates the most revenue for the studio and there will always be a tipping point based in the price elasticity – Would as many people have gone to the avengers if the ticket price had been $50? Categorically no. The question is would enough people have gone to have generated equivalent revenues? Maybe.

As with anything the consumer needs to feel they are getting something in return for the cost which I believe is your argument around people will come to the movies for an event movie because the big screen crowd experience is necessary to optimize enjoyment vs. Your TV at home. So the same applies where differentiating amongst different movies at a theater: what am I getting in return for paying more to see Avengers vs. Some other smaller movie? Right now it is 3D, AVX, seat assignment etc.

This is a long winded way of saying that the price will always be based on the experience not the individual movie. It can’t because how do you decide? That it is going to be a hit? Good luck, if you can do that why are you picks for the box office comp not perfect? By budget? Good luck, John Carter would have been a $100 movie.

You can charge for preference and experience:

1) $100 on opening day, $50 for the first 2 weeks and $25 after that. Alternatively you could have online auctions for individual seats of individual screenings in the first few weeks – Optimize the early adopter spend while not losing the mainstream.

2) Further innovation – There will always be a new technology that does not exist today which differentiate the experience tomorrow whether we want it or not. I didn’t ask for 3D it was thrust upon me. Smellovision, motion master… I don’t know but there will be something.

3) Bacon

Matthew Fabb

More info on the World War Z mega-ticket, which is the $50 ticket:
It was available in 5 theatres in the US and 4 of them sold out, with 1 theatre at 80% full. The theatres themselves averaged at around 250 seats each. That said, anyone who bought a $50 ticket was allowed to bring a friend for regular price.

The screening happened 2 days before opening day and the article mentions it was almost a party atmosphere with a DJ and photo booths. Once again, making it into a big event rather than just seeing a movie.

Still with the success of this experiment, I think the question is how quickly will this be repeated and which film will be next?

Also the article jokes about Brad Pitt showing up for dinner. However, that’s partly how Kevin Smith got people to pay $50 to see his movie. Now you can’t get your star someone like Brad Pitt to show up at every screening, but perhaps a variety of people involve in the movie. Look at how people will pay extra for a TIFF gala movie that will have a Q&A afterwards. Perhaps even have people pay more for the showing that Brad Pitt shows up, or say the director and less for one of the minor actors.