Friday, July 08, 2005

Morgan Freeman Saves Movie Industry from P2P

Mark Evans

I'm intrigued by Intel's investment in ClickStar Inc., a company co-founded by actor Morgan Freeman that aims to develop technology to deliver first-run movies on the Internet before they become available on P2P networks. It's a two-pronged move by Intel: it provides its VC arm with a little profile, and it will hopefully encourage computer users to buy more powerful machines to download and play movies. Freeman may be just one of many entrepreneurs trying to solve the online movie distribution issue but he's definitely among the most well-known. And maybe his status as a big Hollywood star will give ClickStar an edge in establishing relationships with the major studios.
The news about Intel's investment in ClickStar coincides with a column by the Financial Times' John Gapper who suggests the "golden age of the DVD is coming to an end". His thesis is based on the notion that DVD sales aren't growing as quickly, and retailers are reducing the amount of time a DVD title gets to spend on the shelf. At the same time, box office sales are suffering as ticket prices climb - a trend that could become worse as the industry consolidates. Meanwhile, downloads of movies are rising as Bit Torrent technology makes the process even easier.
So maybe Morgan Freeman will be Hollywood's salvation if ClickStar can figure out a way to deliver first-run movies efficiently, securely and, more importantly, at the right price. If ClickStar cracks this nut, Intel's investment could be very prescient and the movie industry will discover the Internet will give it a much-needed financial boost - much like the VCR and DVD did in the 1980s and 1990s.


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