There is a lot of talk in the movie world about what the Next Big Thing will be that will bring audiences back to the movies.
Think of the last time that you personally went to a movie theatre and you will know what I am talking about. I am a filmmaker and even I don't get to go to the movie theatre more than a handful of times each year. The last commercial movie that I saw in an actual theatre was "Les Miserables". In December 2012. Because it was free.
I would love to believe that The Big Screen was still the holy grail of motion-picture entertainment, but it just isn't true anymore. Who has time to go out to a movie anymore? Going to a movie theatre is an Outing. Watching a movie is something that I do at home thanks to DVDs, streaming, or On Demand while I do the dishes or sort bills. In fact even dedicating two hours to a feature film is more than I can sometimes manage: my attention span is about 50 minutes which means I find myself most often actually watching television shows- especially the premium channel series' that have no commercials. If the show isn't on TV anymore I'll go online to watch it or to catch up on old seasons. Sometimes I will even sit and watch the show with my phone in hand so I can look it up on Imdb or follow behind-the-scenes content at the same time.
The point that I am making with all this is that we now live in an age of Transmedia: storytelling that takes place on many different media forms with different content available on each new platform. Take a show like "Game of Thrones" for instance where it is possible to watch the main show on TV, get additional story details from the website, participate in the world of "Game of Thrones" though social media (Choosing your "house" etc) not to mention actually reading the books, and attending events. I have even heard that there are food trucks that have developed dishes based on the "Game of Thrones" world so you can literally get a little taste of the story in real life.
Now that's storytelling!
Transmedia may seem like a new idea, but as audiences' we have been embracing it for some time now: Star Trek is a transmedia story. Star Wars is a transmedia story. Harry Potter is a transmedia story. Batman. Superman. Ironman. Spiderman. If we are invited to explore and participate in a story in many ways and through many forms we are exploring and participating in a transmedia story.
This is great news for audiences because it means we can control how much or how little of the story we want to see and we can choose when and where and how it is most convenient and interesting for us to do so. And this is great news for moviemakers and storytellers because it means audiences are just getting bigger and more eager and accessible than ever. And it is great news for the economics of entertainment because it means there are more and more ways to turn product into profit without putting all your proverbial eggs into one basket.