Survey Says! It's the quality, stupid.

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Does this really come as a surprise to anyone who follows the ins and outs and trials and tribulations of Hollywood? Or, for that matter, to anyone who has been to a movie theater lately? A new survey of internet chat rooms and online message boards reveals the shocking truth that has seemingly eluded the big brains that currently run the major Hollywood studios. The quality, or rather, the lack thereof, is what is keeping people out of the theaters.

Even when moviegoers cite other reasons for not going to the movies, they still eventually come back to the quality of films as the root cause for their disaffection, according to the company that conducted the survey. Among other reasons that potential moviegoers cited as reasons that they would rather wait and see the movie on DVD from Netflix: rising costs of movie tickets, costs of concessions sold (does anyone really need a large popcorn for six dollars?), inadequate parking and our favorite pet peeve, commercials that are shown before the start of a movie. We want previews and then start the movie, that's all. If we wanted commercials, we would stay home and Tivo through them like everyone else.

The company that conducted the survey, Brandimensions searched 1.9 million Internet blogs and chat rooms where users were discussing the movies and their problems with them. And afterputting the data through some fancy math and statistics analysis algorithms they came up with a 16-page report that detailed the results. Among the other findings were that potential moviegoers saw it as the sign of a bad movie if the release of the DVD followed very soon after the theatrical release of the movie. So, they stay away from that film. Also, Hollywood's almost myopic focus on piracy was another turn-off for potential moviegoers who said that they would happily wait longer for the DVD release of a film if it meant that the film would be better.

Interesting results from and interesting survey. It's nothing we haven't been saying here all along. It's quite simple really. Make a good product: widgets, soda, cars, movies, whatever and sell it for a fair price and people will buy it. Consumers are not stupid. Push them too far and try to take too much advantage of them and Hollywood may find itself in the same predicament as the music industry. Clinging to an outmoded business model and suing your customers is just not the best way to stay in business.

The clock is ticking on Hollywood too. They have been lucky up to this point because movie stars still seem to draw people into theaters, although perhaps not as much as they once did. And big "event" movies like "Star Wars" or "Batman Begins" can still bring people into theaters. Plus, Hollywood has not had to contend with massive file swapping on the scale that the music industry has. Film files are just too large for your average internet user to download. Or, they have the bandwidth and just don't want to take the time to download the movie, especially if its something they don't care to see.

As broadband internet proliferates and speeds increase, as they quickly do, a day will come when file swapping of movies will be just as easy as the swapping of mp3 files is today. Hopefully, Hollywood will have a plan and a clue to deal with it by then. Or, they could be in real trouble. iTunes Movie store anyone?