Hollywood’s grip on film industry set to be toppled by digital revolution

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CINEMA will be the next industry to be revolutionised by the internet, according to leading experts in the field.

Professor Dina Iordanova, professor of Film Studies at the University of St Andrews, believes the world of film is set to be transformed in the same way that postal services have been superseded by email, CDs by MP3s and podcasts, and books by Kindle downloads.

This “Digital Disruption” is having a radical, disruptive effect of film at all levels, claims Prof Iordanova – from the kind of films that are made, which kind audiences actually see and how and where viewers see them.

Cinema could be revolutionised in the same way as the music industry Photo:Fernando de Sousa

The claims are made in a new anthology of film Digital Disruption: Cinema Moves On-line, is co-edited by Prof Iordanova and Prof Stuart Cunningham, of Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

It forms part of a major two-and-a-half year, £250,000 project financed by The Leverhulme Trust.

It brings together essays from researchers in many countries and provides hard facts about a fast changing environment about which there is a lot of opinion, but very little data.

In the book Prof Iordanova and Prof Cunningham conclude Hollywood’s current dominance could be upset by digital technologies which are expected to make a much wider range of international films available to audiences.

The anthology also discusses how crowd-funding for production and circulation and digital technologies are strengthening the independents, and challenge the role of industry middlemen such as film distributors and film critics, and how the industry is struggling to adjust to this change.

Film production companies will also have to radically rethink how they make revenue in the light of issues such as copyright and intellectual properties.

Disruption

The book maps these changes for the first time and provides case studies of well-known companies such as website IMDb and lesser-known ones such as Jaman, MUBI, and Withoutabox which are spearheading the digital revolution.

Prof Iordanova said: “The incredible acceleration we have seen in areas such as mail, book and music circulation, may be coming to the world of film next.

“Changes bubbling quietly under the surface are likely to erupt and profoundly undermine the traditional ways of doing business.

“The film industry is being made over as we speak, faced with the tremendous disruption that the digital revolution brings about. We are still to see which of the current players will come out unscathed from this transformation.”

Film industry analyst Nick Roddick, who regularly writes for the British Film Institute’s principal publication Sight and Sound under the by-line Mr Busy, said: ‘It’s hard to overstate the importance of this collection of essays.

“Now, at last, we have what we needed: some rigorous academic thinking on the subject combined with detailed analysis of what exactly is going on in the fast-developing world of downloads, streaming video and Swedish pirates,” Roddick said.

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