Hollywood: Raping Instead of Creating

Every time I go to see a movie, I leave hating theaters just a little bit more. Yesterday, the movie showtime was 7:30 but the opening credits didn’t roll until 8:00 on the dot–and the movie started as scheduled. That’s because, in addition to the 10-12 minutes of previews, Disney decided to run a 17 minutes animated short with Goofy and an inexplicably stupid storyline about setting up a home theater system. It wasn’t even an advertisement and I’m still trying to wrap my head around what the fuck it was for. And naturally, this was preceded by the “20” minutes of commercials that the theater runs before the show that they half-heartedly attempt to disguise as content.

All of it is a weak attempt to milk a little more money out of a dying system. Using the contrast of the internet we can see how utterly laughable and self-defeating such measures are. Like slowly mining the movie experience of anything positive isn’t eventually going to have some repercussions. What if Rudius did this? Imagine if Tucker, to break my site, forced all the users who went to TuckerMax.com to check out out my blog for 30 seconds. It would build me an user block almost instantly, but at what cost? It’s just moving food around the plate–it’s not creating any new value. When you rob one hand to fill the other enough times, eventually one comes up empty. And that’s the experience of going to a movie–there is nothing left to take. I can’t think of one thing they could do to make it worse without going out of their way to hurt people.

The Rudius pages of have had an abysmal record of staying online recently. Sometimes they’re down for as much as half of the day. Not everyone agrees with me, but I think that this is absolutely the worst possible thing the company can allow to happen. Fixing it should be priority number 1. To raise the barrier of entry in the edgeconomy in any way is to slowly slit your own throat. People will just go elsewhere. The next site isn’t 15 miles away like another theater, it’s a click away. I know Rudius isn’t just an internet company but how can it claim to be different and then ignore the fundamental new paradigm of our age: Unfettered access, all the time.

I have a post coming on why it is that Hollywood, to date, has only one significant victory on the web: TMZ. The leader in almost every other category is someone who came up outside the system. But basically, I think it comes down how they look value. Hollywood is a genius at extracting it–they scorch the earth getting it out. “We’ve got these people sitting in the theaters waiting, how can we use that time to OUR benefit?” instead of “How can we make those people happy?” And the web isn’t about that at all. That’s why Knol will fail, because Google designed it to answer this question: “How can we get people to make pages FOR US?” You won’t find that in the philosophy of Wikipedia. The web is about creating value together, not taking it from someone else. The Entrenched Player Dilemma tells us that you really can’t transition from extracting value to collaborating to make it because extracting was where you made all your money.

Theaters are allowed (by the market) to be shitty because there are costs involved in alternatives. I’d have to wait for it to come out on DVD, or risk pirating it, or drive an hour to one of Cuban’s Landmark Theatres. There is also some cultural inertia involved–I remember that it used to be pleasant. That’s a relic though and it won’t save anyone’s ass online. Whatever early mover’s advantage Rudius has can be lost pretty easily if the servers keep making it a shitty experience.

Hollywood’s blissful ignorance of what anyone thinks or feels or has to say has been shattered. The idea that you can rape value without ever having to create it, thankfully, is going away. It’s only a matter of time before it’s totally gone.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.