January 6, 2006 5:50 AM PST

Morgan Freeman: Net delivery to inspire filmmakers

LAS VEGAS--Hollywood is going Dell, Morgan Freeman says.

The Academy Award-winning actor said services that will deliver first-run movies over the Internet to people's homes while the movies remain in theaters are "absolutely" analogous to what happened in the PC business when consumers began to buy their machines directly, during a brief interview with reporters after a Intel CEO Paul Otellini's keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) here.

And one of the chief benefits will be more creativity. "You can write a script today, and 10 years down the line, you might get an airing," he said of the current situation. Changes in distribution are "going to revolutionize the whole creative part."

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The final cut of "Touch of Evil," the classic directed by Orson Welles, got to the big screen in the form intended by Welles only after his death, Freeman noted.

Actors and directors will take advantage of the new distribution means in a variety of ways, he said. Some will release movies on the Net. Others may create channels where they show off favorite, or unheralded, films.

ClickStar, a joint venture between Freeman's production company and Intel, will release a movie starring Freeman called "10 Items or Less" this year that will be downloadable on the Internet two weeks after its theatrical release. Some films in the future may come out the same day as they appear in theaters.

Danny DeVito and Tom Hanks, who appeared with Freeman as part of Otellini's keynote, said they will participate in ClickStar projects in some fashion. Many other artists will join, too.

"It is not so much that people are frustrated (with studios)...They see opportunities," Freeman said.

The big open question is how the economics will work and how the new business models will evolve.

"We will learn as we go," he said. "We're inventing it on the fly."

Freeman got interested in the Internet as a movie delivery mechanism through Lori McCreary, who heads up his production company and ClickStar.

8 comments

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Freeman's a Good Man
I wish him all the best in this venture. But it would not be surprising to me if I read a banner headline in the near future to the effect of "Morgan Freeman Killed Gangland Style." The movie industry, as well as the music industry, are two of the most evil industries on the planet.

In order of evil:

1. Tobacco
2. Music Industry
3. Movie Industry
4. Microsoft
Posted by friday04 (48 comments )
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You're Funny
I agree with you about Mr Freeman, he's a good man. Now, this whole "eliminating the middle man" and "things will improve now that artist will have direct link to their customers" is a whole bunch of b.s. I heard the same about how the internet will change music business and artist will now be able to take control of their careers, and blah, blah, blah. I haven't seen any improvements in the music quality and/or market dominance by the major labels. Sure CDbaby and many other indies sellers have seens growth and success with the use of the internet. But see, you still need to make use of a "middle man."

Mr Freeman's intentions are good and he's thinking it as a business venture; my best wishes for his success. But, don't give me this silly phrase of "eliminating the middle man." Any business will always have to use of some kind of middle man. It works that way with everything.
Posted by Dead Soulman (245 comments )
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Why the Middle Man
The real middleman in Music & Cinema - is the huge distribution industry that "holds the inventory" of material copies - the copies that people purchase.

This is a terribly risky business and that is why people in the production and distribution business will even go to the extent of "Creating Successes" like the SpiceGirls or Britney Spears or any number of "heavily promoted personalities".

The "paradigm" that the Reverend Freeman is talking about is really powerful. It has shapechanging possibilities in the realm of media.

Let me provide an example - Imagine you are a musician who specialises in an obscure style of Indian Classical Music (I say Indian, because I am Indian and know of the possibilities).

Look at the economics -
1 Artiste's worldwide audience = only 150,000 people.
2 Number of albums over a 10-year period = 5
3 Total albums purchased (1 x 2) = 750,000
4 Album price = US$ 2/-
5 Total album sales revenue (3 x 4) = US$ 1,500,000/-
6 Let us say that the artiste gets 50%.
7 Artiste gets US$ 750,000/- over 10 years.
8 Per annum earnings = US$ 75,000/-

I know that this will not excite the interest of the "Big Stars" who arethe top-dollar winners in the present business structure.

It is enough to win the interest of and to keep thousands of highly talented and specialised musicians working for years.

I suspect this is the wonderful prospect that the Reverend Freeman is enthused by.

Peter
Posted by sughyosha (21 comments )
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Maybe...
... but nobody's making a significant amount of money selling CD's without major label support. In fact, there's very few making money WITH major label support.

The internet has killed major label albums by breaking them up into singles. So people are cannibalizing albums they used to have to buy complete.

On the other hand, the net is providing small, localized successes for some indie bands, but if you want to make real cash, you still need the media push and distribution of a major label.

The internet is so massive these days that it's just as hard to promote your music online than it is to play clubs in city after city. In fact, my old band sold FAR more CD's and shirts and stuff playing those small gigs than promoting on the internet.
Posted by ss_Whiplash (143 comments )
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The distribution Machine
When you talk of the "Major label support" you are spot on - because that is the biggest (maybe - only) voice of distribution today.

What we need is an Amazon where specialist musicians and heritage musicians can offer a thousand different flavours of music.

Today the inherent risks of Big Label distribution forces them to restrict the number of "Names" that they promote and distribute.

Musicians with narrow special-audience appeal have no where to go. For them, the Internet could be the ultimate low-cost distribution medium.
Posted by sughyosha (21 comments )
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