One of the things I recently discussed was the shift in the entertainment business from a ‘push’ model to a ‘pull model’. In other words, instead of creating content and enticing consumers to view it, you basically let the consumer tell you what they want to watch and create it for them instead. It’s all very simple to how Dell makes computers, i.e. they don’t make your computer until you actually order it.
So it came as quite a surprise to discover that there is a startup out there, going by the name of Tugg, whose business model is exactly that; to pull content and people into the cinema!
The concept is almost deceptively simple:
It’s a pretty cool concept with a very basic (and almost shockingly underused) concept which is to basically sell the seats in the cinema beforehand, thus eliminating the risk of a loss in a screening. However Tugg is much more than a website to petition for a screening near you. It also attempts to act as a platform for the entire experience. Witness the soon-to-come ability to share events:
There’s even the option to attend an event organised by someone else, surely the icing on the cake for both the cinema and Tugg if they can draw in outsiders.
However perhaps the greatest part is the ease of setting up a screening:
Now you know that anyone can do it. Which is nice, because the risk to everyone is nothing. The cinema doesn’t risk renting a film that they can’t recover the costs on, you benefit because you can see films you like on a big screen and Tugg benefits because it’s likely either getting a flat fee from the cinema for the screening or (more likely) skimming money off every ticket sale and (probably) gathering info on viewing habits to sell back to the studios. Everybody wins!
This post is about much more than Tugg though, because the advantages of the site should play very well into the hands of animation fans. Why? The reasons are simple.
- Animation from studios other than the large ones are rare in mainstream cinemas
- Adult animation is continually shunted in favour of more profitable mainstream fare (both animation and otherwise)
- Cinemas only care about bums on seats and they will gladly favour a screening with a sold out theater for an obscure animated film than a half-empty house screening the latest release.
- Digital distribution already eliminates the cost of distribution so cinemas can cheaply screen films without having to pay the large handling fees of traditional film.
All in all it sounds like a sweet deal. Imagine the scenario; you want to watch, say, The Secret of Kells for your birthday. You go online, find a smaller cinema in your area (say a 50-100 seater). You set up the event in Tugg and invite your friends. Let’s say you get 35 people to come. That’s pretty decent, but now the social aspect of Tugg comes into play and people in the area learn that the film is playing. Now they want to come too! Suddenly your birthday party is much more than that, it’s about bringing people who share the exact same interests as yourself together!
So what’s the downside (you knew there had to be one didn’t you)? Well, as with anything and everything to do with the film industry and Hollywood, it isn’t simply a matter of Tugg or the cinema “renting” the film from the requisite studio. Yup, just like Netflix and every other company out there trying to innovate in the market, Tugg is bound by rights. What does that mean? Basically if they don’t have the rights to show a film, they can’t.
What does that result in? Why a limited selection of course! Now naturally we can expect it to grow over time, but as of now (September 2012) Tugg is showing just 25 animated titles ranging from A Town Called Panic to Alvin and the Chipmunks. So unfortunately we may have to wait a while before we can organise that retrospective on Ralph Bakshi.
The future looks bright though. If people can organise their own screenings of animated films, it would greatly increase the diversity at the local multiplex. That can only be a good thing for everyone.