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Movie Studio Execs See Mixed Prospects for Digital

Movie studio executives provided another take on the digital and social media front at the Tribeca Film Festival’s Industry Talks in New York on Tuesday.  While Friday’s panel of filmmakers and digital experts were more positive about the impact of digital and social media on the movie industry, the two studio heads on yesterday’s panel expressed some reservations.

Michael Lang, CEO of Miramax, said, “Digital is a great opportunity, but it won’t replace the shortfall in home entertainment and the decline in the DVD business.” Tom Lesinski, president of Paramount Digital Entertainment furthered the argument that digital distribution hasn’t sufficiently added to the bottom line. He stated, “We hoped that as DVDs declined that digital would make up for it, but digital distribution has created more piracy.”

Lang’s assessment of movie studios’ social media efforts wasn’t generous. He said, “There are few examples of studios being innovative in marketing their films via social media.”

He explained that if studios only used social media they would need a smaller marketing budget. However, if they went this route and the film was not a hit, marketing would be blamed. Overall he thought it would be too risky for those involved. This presents a dilemma since he cautioned, “Major studio marketing is not sustainable anymore.”

Lesinski’s view of social media was more favorable based on his studio’s experience. “At Paramount, we track the social media footprint of our stars,” he said. “We like to see talent that is engaged with their audiences since it guarantees an audience for our films.”

Lesinski cited Justin Bieber’s broad social media fan base as an example. “For Paramount’s Never Say Never movie, we targeted Justin Bieber pockets around the world.”

In the future, Lesinski foresees “Social media sites as destinations for video consumption. So wherever there is a large audience, such as Facebook, Hollywood will deliver movies.”

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