Cinema on Demand – the offspring of Digital Cinema and the Crowd

“It’s better than sex, it’s better than love”-  talking about going to the movies, Jack Angstreich, Cinemania, 2003


Jack Angstreich, still from Cinemania

Comfy red seats, ambient low lighting and a warm buzz around you. The lights are dimmed and screen fades to black. There is a sense of anticipation and then you are totally immersed in the darkness. It’s the magic of cinema. But what does the future hold?

A new generation of cinephiles is emerging as the film industry ponders and predicts the future of cinema.  Cinephiles like Jack Angstreich, from the unnerving and funny documentary, Cinemania (2003), view going to the movies as something stronger than a physical experience with another human being. He might be a bit crazy, but it shows the significant impact going to the cinema has on an individual.

Nowadays, the cinephile experience takes the individual out of the cinema and into the world of film forums, message boards, VOD and behind the scene DVD extras.  The most successful film franchises are the ones that use state of the art technology to convey a virtual world, making it as immersive as they can. Blockbusters, action-packed adventures and science fiction franchises that sell out multiplexes leaving behind a graveyard of 3D glasses.
“The digital revolution is shaking the foundation of the movie theatre” – is the appropriate sensationalist headline here.

Future of Cinema: What the Greats say…
This year the Holland Film Nieuws gives an opportunity for film industry professionals to express their views on the future of cinema. Piracy is seen as a crisis whereas digitisation and the technology driven aspect of new forms of filmmaking and viewing are seen as positive. Here are some excerpts.
James Cameron: “People want the group experience, the sense of going out and participating in a film together”

Will cinemas become the new vinyl records? Mark Kermode thinks that the digitisation of film and its wide availability on mobile devices will mean the end of the multiplexes. Kermode thinks that people who go to multiplexes do not really go there for the film experience. Nowadays people who go to independent cinemas are the ones who really want to be there.  “In the end, cinema won’t be the only way of seeing it, but as long as I have the option to see it there then that’s great”.
George Lucas: “Going to the movies will cost 50 bucks or a 100 or 150 bucks, like what Broadway costs today. It’ll be an expensive thing…”

Martin Scorsese: “In the future, you’ll probably see less and less of what we recognize as cinema on multiplex screens and more and more of it in smaller theatres, online and I suppose, in spaces and circumstances that I can’t predict.

The conclusion I have drawn is that all of these big names in the film industry, have no idea what is going to happen. And this has been true throughout the history of film. The inevitable death of cinema has been predicted countless times and still it is here. So personally, I don’t know what to believe. Maybe it is time to make up our own minds!

Cinema on Demand


Cinema on demand, aka theatrical-on-demand, emerged out of the need to create a different experience in the cinema and democratize the film consumption landscape.  We perceive event-based cinema as the future of cinema.

Recently, , the cinema on demand service in the US,  managed to raise 5,9 million dollars to maintain and further develop their platform.  Placing so much value on cinema on demand shows a   significant change in the way audiences consume entertainment. There is an increasing need of crowd-powered events, the creation of communities and the ritual consumption of culture.

Tugg works with crowd ticketing and they earn their money by keeping a share of  box office. A percentage goes to the filmmakers and to the movie theatres. Like this everyone gets a fair share of profit-making it a symbiotic relationship at the same time supporting good filmmaking. Which no one can put a price tag on!

Tugg is for people who love film and are looking for a different, non-Hollywood experience.  As it aptly states in the article linked below “it’s a vehicle for film nerds operated by film nerds”. Nick Gonda, founder of Tugg, does not see Netflix or other VOD platforms as a direct threat or competition.  He says that services such as cinema on demand keep “the communal movie-house experience alive”. He also observed that the trend is moving out of the theatre to non-theatrical locations that are inspiring and beautiful. Whilst film buffs might consider the cinema auditorium beautiful in itself, by screening a film in an old warehouse, for example, adds something extra to the cinematic experience.

Some interesting snippets on COD:

The Rise of Theatrical-on-Demand: What’s Working

Theatrical on Demand: Bring the Movies You Want to See in a Theatre Near You

Photo credits from IMDb

Article quoted you can find here.

**Note: this article was posted first on the blog of We Want Cinema, the cinema-on-demand company I worked for.