Next time, go for a better trial balloon.
CinemaNow has announced that it will be digitally distributing a movie on the same day that it hits retailer shelves. In theory, this would be a great time to prove to the movie studios that consumers are ready to download their own flicks and burn them at home. There's a problem, though. The movie just happens to be The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
The action film rang up just $62.5 million at the domestic box office. It's the third leg in a tired franchise; Vin Diesel bowed out after the original grossed $144.5 million domestically five years ago, leaving only Paul Walker to return for the first sequel, which produced a respectable $127.2 million in stateside ticket sales two summers later. Neither had a starring role in the third installment. In short, you're not going to build a lot of buzz around this release, regardless of the medium.
Then you have the ridiculous irony of rolling with a street-racing movie, which would appeal to folks who love driving cars. They don't mind driving over to Wal-Mart
CinemaNow's heart is in the right place. At $9.99, the download is priced right, and because it can be burned on to a DVD, it helps overcome the major shortcoming in PC downloads by allowing most consumers to watch it on the big screen in their living rooms.
If the film is a hit for CinemaNow, it will help validate the platform. However, if it isn't, it just proves that the same finicky crowds that passed on the film at the multiplex haven't lost that sensibility when it comes to home viewing.
The data we will get will be inconclusive. Wal-Mart is already worried about digital delivery eating into its strong retail DVD business. Rental chains like Blockbuster and Netflix
Hopefully, we will get to see this experiment on a grander scale with a bigger movie. As sleepy as the 2006 celluloid slate has been, save for a few choice blockbusters, 28 other flicks have still sped past this one at the box office.
Sorry, Fast and the Furious fans. You're just too slow this time.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz probably won't be buying the movie in any form, but that doesn't mean that he isn't intrigued by the possibilities. He does own shares in Netflix. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. T he Fool has a disclosure policy.