Format wars is best drama in Hollywood
WHAT'S your preferred method for watching the latest remake of "King Kong"? On the big screen? Via a video iPod? On a home entertainment center?
Or how about through a 7-year-old nephew's dramatic re-interpretation after he chases three pieces of birthday cake with a bottle of Yoo-hoo?
While each option has its merits, entertainment distributors are in the middle of a life-or-death shareholder gamble, trying to predict where most eyeballs will eventually fall on the ever-spinning tech roulette wheel, from snail-mail Netflix rentals to high-definition DVDs to Internet downloads.
Speaking for myself, I watched "King Kong" on the big screen in mid- to late December (started in mid-, finished in late -- long movie). On the whole, it was satisfying. And, by the 30th of this month, I will have officially paid down the credit card I used to buy the Coke and popcorn.
However, since the ending of "King Kong" in 2005 was just like the ending of "Titanic" in 1997 (only with less water and more body hair), and the ending of "Titanic" in 1997 was just like the ending of "King Kong" in 1976 and 1933 (only with more water and less body hair), one full viewing of each was enough for me.
Perhaps these all-too-familiar Hollywood storylines are partly to blame for declining ticket sales, down 9 percent last year compared to 2004, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Not that I'm picking on just one movie. "Superman" returns this summer -- it could be a great, but (moron spoiler alert) in this adaptation, as I understand it, they've decided to make him stronger than everybody and able to fly.
That said, I did see some of "Kong" again, after it washed up at the dollar theater yards from work. Because of this, I perfectly timed a federally mandated 15-minute break to re-watch the WWF fight between Kong and the Tyrannosaurus Triplets 78 minutes in.
Adhering to public-viewing etiquette, I stood quietly in the back so as not to disturb other moviegoers, including the half-dozen third-graders engaged in a water-pistol fight between rows 11 and 15.
But studios seem to be taking all their scriptwriting innovation and transferring it to product distribution. Available on DVD this week, CNN.com reports that Universal Pictures will also make "King Kong" legitimately available for purchase on the Net next week (in Britain) for $35.
However, if you prefer more tested, if clandestine forms of Net delivery, you can still get it (and just about anything else) from almost any college sophomore with a BitTorrent client for the cost of a four-pack of Red Bull. Also, some Netflix subscribers with DVD burners have been known to "watch" 100 movies a month -- nothing suspicious there.
Add to this mix the current VHS/Beta-style battle over HD DVD formats, and it's hard for anyone to know where to point their remote control. However, if content producers can get hi-def entertainment into our homes without using a round silver disc of any kind, it might make this epic DVD debate as pointless as arguing over which Kevin Federline song is the least bad.
For now, we might be better off watching our nephews impersonate dinosaurs.
After all, unlike Hollywood, they can provide as many original adaptations as there are bottles of Yoo-hoo in the fridge.