Lionsgate’s Curt Marvis, Interview Part 2

Part 2 of our three-part discussion with Lionsgate digital media president Curt Marvis, former CEO of CinemaNow.

Here we discuss what types of content sell best in digital, how the business model for online distribution of movies and TV is challenging old Hollywood and how Lionsgate is handling it, his approach to original content on the Web, and why Lionsgate’s new TV show “Instantly Rich” is a “stimulus package for the television industry.”

(For more background on Marvis, see the introduction to part 1)

Ben Fritz: Lionsgate more than other studios has strengths in some specific genres. Do you see any genre-specific differences? Does the horror stuff overperform in digital? Does stuff like the Tyler Perry films sell less than on other platforms? What do you see doing the best in digital?

Curt Marvis
: It actually in many ways I think mirrors homevideo. I think you’ll see maybe an R-rated comedy like “Good Luck Chuck” or “My Best Friend’s Girl” that didn’t necessarily blow the doors off theatrically outperform relative to the box office on digital in a significant fashion. I think there’s a lot in that R-rated comedy area where we’ve seen tremendous success, both in homevideo and on digital.

Horror always does well on homevideo and the same on digital.

BF: But is there anything that does better on digital than traditional homevideo?

CM: Definitely the R-rated uncensored versions of comedies and even action movies. I would say there’s a few cases where it may do better digitally.

One interesting thing you find about digital is placement is so huge in terms of the performance of a title. That’s true at retail too – obviously you want an endcap at Wal-Mart or wherever it is. But an interesting thing that maybe somebody will figure out – we didn’t do it at CinemaNow and I haven’t seen anybody do it yet – is I still make the argument that browsability is still superior in the retail environment than online.

We found it’s amazing people watch what’s either on the home page or the first page of the specific genre or category they go to. Very few people start to click through pages. If you go into a Blockbuster or Best Buy it’s actually much easier to take a broad swath and look over and go, “You know, I haven’t seen ‘Chinatown,’ I’m going to buy that movie.”

BF: So you think there’s still a lot of work to be done on user interfaces?

CM: Yeah, honestly I don’t know the best way to do it, but somebody’s got to figure out a more effective way to – Netflix has done a great job of it through the collaborative filtering and personalization. There’s still I think, just like Google came up with a simple way to search, somebody’s got to come up with a simple way to browse a movie library in a more effective fashion.

BF: In terms of the online digital distributors, who do you see doing really well? iTunes? The video game consoles? Amazon? Is there anybody you’ve been particularly impressed by or anyone who hasn’t done as well as you thought?

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