Todd Wagner Warns Film Industry Times Are Changing

 

"New Distribution Rules Are Being Written"

Todd Wagner - delivered keynote speechBillionaire trustee of the American Film Institute, Todd Wagner, delivered a wake-up call to the movie industry  at the AFI Digital Content Festival where he delivered the keynote address. Describing Hollywod as "one of the oldest closed clubs in the world," he warned the industry, times are changing and they had to get used to seeing new players on the field. His wake-up speech has been distributed globally by podcast.

 

CEO of 2929 Entertainment and founder of the Todd Wagner Foundation, Todd Wagner began his ascent in the business world in 1995 as co-founder and CEO of Broadcast.com, the leading destination for audio and video programming on the Web.

He took the company public making the largest opening-day gains at the time, and then sold it to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion in 1999. Wagner initially led the division as Yahoo! Broadcast, before venturing into the entertainment world, where he has coupled entrepreneurial skills and digital technology expertise, with a passion for the movie business.

 

TODD WAGNER'S KEYNOTE SPEECH

"technology does not go backwards"

"When the dot com boom bubble burst in 2000, most people in the media industry probably thought "thank God that's all over". Technology never goes as far as you would like in two years, but it goes further in ten - and technology does not go backwards.

"Now, Google and Yahoo are forces to reckon with. They combine media, commerce and communications in one stock. They have one-on-one relationships with real consumers with real credit cards, but the movie industry does not. The average consumer could not care less whether a movie was made by Universal, Disney or Paramount.

"Today the latest phenomenon is social networking. So is there another changing of the guard, with YouTube, and MySpace, and all the others? Social networking sites existed before, but they have recently enjoyed explosive growth. Is this really dramatic change after all, or just the integration into our daily lives?

"So what has changed?

"The trend is being driven by the internet generation"

"The trend is being driven by the internet generation. The 15 to 18 year olds who have been driving the bus have known nothing but the internet. It is this generation's shopping mall.

"When I was a kid, we all played baseball. It didn't mean that we'd all make it to the major league, but if we were really good, someone would find us.

A CLOSED CLUB

"Hollywood is one of the oldest closed clubs in the world, but that is changing through digital technology. When the new rule book is completed you will definitely see some new players on the field.

"The movie industry fights changes at every turn, but technology is like a freight train. You can slow it down with obstacles like litigation, but eventually, it will hit you. Microsoft loses more money than the movie industry to piracy, but that is a cost of doing business.

"Now, it seems, the movie industry is beginning to take notice"

"I prefer to try and think of things proactively, about what we can add, about products and features that have never existed before. Now, it seems, the movie industry is beginning to take notice. The fear of piracy has been supplanted by fear of inactivity.

"As an effectively vertically integrated business, with access to its own distribution and exhibition network - albeit on a smaller scale than the majors - we do not need the studios to bless what we are doing.

DAY-AND-DATE RELEASING

"We have signed Oscar winning director Steven Soderbergh to make a series of movies that will be released simultaneously - "day-and-date" - theatrically, on television and video. The effect will be additive, and will actually save money in marketing.

People will still want the social experience of going to a movie. I simply want to offer them a choice

"If I hear a song on the radio I don't hear them say ‘in about five months you can buy that CD'. I believe that it is a dangerous assumption to believe that a customer is still interested in your product in five months. The television networks have begun to experiment with online distribution and there is no evidence that it has eroded the broadcast audience.

"People will still want the social experience of going to a movie. I simply want to offer them a choice, saying: "I have food at home, but I also go to a restaurant".

"Five years ago former Intel CEO Andy Grove said: "You have to wonder how the movie industry weighs the value of maintaining the status quo for a few more years, against the value of being the first to exploit a technology that gives them frictionless transmission of their product with the appropriate fidelity."

"Guess what? Five years have now passed. Telling a story will never go out of style, but how you tell it, and how you distribute it, might very well change."

 

MORE ON TODD WAGNER

Through the production division of 2929 Entertainment, Wagner has led the charge to bring meaningful and inspirational stories to audiences.  He executive produced the critically acclaimed drama Akeelah and the Bee, starring Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett and Keke Palmer, and Good Night, and Good Luck, the period drama directed by and co-starring George Clooney which earned a half-dozen Academy Award nominations including Best Picture.

The consummate serial entrepreneur, Wagner, alongside partner Mark Cuban, owns and manages an array of other entertainment properties including HDNet Films, which produced the Oscar-nominated documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room; distributor Magnolia Pictures, which has released Enron and The World's Fastest Indian starring Anthony Hopkins; home video division Magnolia Home Entertainment; the Landmark Theatres art-house chain; and high-definition cable channels HDNet and HDNet Movies.  On behalf of HDNet Films, Wagner negotiated a deal with Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh to make six movies that are being released "day-and-date" across theatrical, television and home video platforms, an innovative distribution strategy allowing consumers to choose how, when and where they wish to see a film.  The first was Bubble, a murder mystery set in Ohio that cast non-actors in its key roles.

Wagner also owns minority stakes in Lions Gate Entertainment and The Weinstein Company, and most recently invested in Canadian film and television company Peace Arch Entertainment.  Additionally, he is a founder and co-chairman of Content Partners LLC, a company that invests in the back-end profit participations of Hollywood talent. Wagner also serves on the board of trustees of the American Film Institute and the Tribeca Film Institute.

Print

Comments   

0 # fascinatingGuest 2006-07-31 03:06
does the film industry want to hear this tho?
0 # fascinatingGuest 2006-07-31 03:06
does the film industry want to hear this tho?
0 # PRESGuest 2006-07-31 12:12
Dealing with the Studio Interactive Departments
is like dealing with the DINOSAURS

As a International Licensee We pushed and pulled
to explain VCD AND DVD to them and now were having
to jump over the same road blocks again for
for VOD / MOD/ IPTV

Again why can customers download on a China BTW Site
two days after a USA OR UK Theaterical release
or buy a Pirated Video in Down town L.A. OR
London or New York Canal Street -The problem
of DVD Burning will only grow larger and larger

Its time the Studios and Licensors of Content
wake up and Participate at the Source

The DRM -Digital rights management is already in place to protect content - lets roll up the windowS , put alarms and watermarks on this stuff
so we can trackit - and make money before the Pirates do other wise the pirates
will out fox ,out gunning the Studios to
Squeeze more illegal money out of movie downloads

Napstar to Music -was a blessing from GOD to the
Music Companies , but will the Hollywood Studios
be as lucky Enough to Control the on slaught thats
just over the horizon - be prepared is my Motto

Its going to be a Wild Ride for those folks that get it and embrace the future head on

Bobby Jones
IPA-ASIA PACIFIC
0 # PRESGuest 2006-07-31 12:12
Dealing with the Studio Interactive Departments
is like dealing with the DINOSAURS

As a International Licensee We pushed and pulled
to explain VCD AND DVD to them and now were having
to jump over the same road blocks again for
for VOD / MOD/ IPTV

Again why can customers download on a China BTW Site
two days after a USA OR UK Theaterical release
or buy a Pirated Video in Down town L.A. OR
London or New York Canal Street -The problem
of DVD Burning will only grow larger and larger

Its time the Studios and Licensors of Content
wake up and Participate at the Source

The DRM -Digital rights management is already in place to protect content - lets roll up the windowS , put alarms and watermarks on this stuff
so we can trackit - and make money before the Pirates do other wise the pirates
will out fox ,out gunning the Studios to
Squeeze more illegal money out of movie downloads

Napstar to Music -was a blessing from GOD to the
Music Companies , but will the Hollywood Studios
be as lucky Enough to Control the on slaught thats
just over the horizon - be prepared is my Motto

Its going to be a Wild Ride for those folks that get it and embrace the future head on

Bobby Jones
IPA-ASIA PACIFIC
0 # Guest 2006-07-31 12:59
A provocative speech and raises issues that are on a lot of people\\\'s and companies minds. It may be true that much of Hollywood is a closed club, but I don\\\'t think it means they\\\'re not paying attention to the march of technology. Hollywood has successfully integrated technology throughout its history. Pay TV and home entertainment are two good examples.

Sequential distribution has served Hollywood and all content creation entities exceedingly well for decades. Just because hardware technologists are not able to dictate the pace at which content creators and owners facilitate the growth of the hardware or web distribution new business models does not make the content owners stupid.

It\\\'s sort of like complaining to Andy Grove that Intel charges prices designed to recoup their investment in chip technology. It\\\'s always so easy to spend someone else\\\'s money.

I applaud Todd and Mark and all they\\\'re doing at 2929 and Magnolia. They\\\'re creating their own content and will no doubt be among the recognized pioneers of the \\\"new Hollywood\\\". They\\\'re assembling the pieces to make it all work. And they\\\'re investing in a model they believe in. I believe in what they\\\'re doing. But I still think it\\\'s a few years away from a dominant role in the distribution of motion pictures.

However, I don\\\'t think the market is ready and I don\\\'t think the infrastructure is in place to day and date release a $150 million piece of high concept A list visual entertainment. I\\\'d like to raise the possibility that both sides are right and that the current Hollywood regime is alive, awake, and capable of incorporating new technology and digital distribution.

Actually, I\\\'d like to help them get it done.
0 # Guest 2006-07-31 12:59
A provocative speech and raises issues that are on a lot of people\\\'s and companies minds. It may be true that much of Hollywood is a closed club, but I don\\\'t think it means they\\\'re not paying attention to the march of technology. Hollywood has successfully integrated technology throughout its history. Pay TV and home entertainment are two good examples.

Sequential distribution has served Hollywood and all content creation entities exceedingly well for decades. Just because hardware technologists are not able to dictate the pace at which content creators and owners facilitate the growth of the hardware or web distribution new business models does not make the content owners stupid.

It\\\'s sort of like complaining to Andy Grove that Intel charges prices designed to recoup their investment in chip technology. It\\\'s always so easy to spend someone else\\\'s money.

I applaud Todd and Mark and all they\\\'re doing at 2929 and Magnolia. They\\\'re creating their own content and will no doubt be among the recognized pioneers of the \\\"new Hollywood\\\". They\\\'re assembling the pieces to make it all work. And they\\\'re investing in a model they believe in. I believe in what they\\\'re doing. But I still think it\\\'s a few years away from a dominant role in the distribution of motion pictures.

However, I don\\\'t think the market is ready and I don\\\'t think the infrastructure is in place to day and date release a $150 million piece of high concept A list visual entertainment. I\\\'d like to raise the possibility that both sides are right and that the current Hollywood regime is alive, awake, and capable of incorporating new technology and digital distribution.

Actually, I\\\'d like to help them get it done.