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Roger Ebert correctly predicts the future of movies in 1987

03.29.2011

If you work in the film journalism industry, be it for print or online, you have to respect Roger Ebert. He's who pretty much all of us aspire to be, and he's been doling out wisdom on film for decades. He's occasionally attempted to predict the future of the industry, and by god, he's sometimes right.

This gem was dug up by Pale of the Future and spotlighted by the LA Times. It's Ebert in 1987 commenting to Omni Magazine on what he thinks the future of movies will be like.

"We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it. You’ll not go to a video store but instead order a movie on demand and then pay for it. Videocassette tapes as we know them now will be obsolete both for showing prerecorded movies and for recording movies. People will record films on 8mm and will play them back using laser-disk/CD technology."

Netflix and DVD forecast in 1987? Not bad Ebert. What else you got?

"I also am very, very excited by the fact that before long, alternative films will penetrate the entire country. Today seventy-five percent of the gross from a typical art film in America comes from as few as six –six– different theaters in six different cities. Ninety percent of the American motion-picture marketplace never shows art films. With this revolution in delivery and distribution, anyone, in any size town or hamlet, will see the movies he or she wants to see. It will be the same as it’s always been with books. You can be a hermit and still read any author you choose."

Art films still struggle with distribution, but yes, a lot more people are able to see them via the internet these days (legally or illegally), so another good prediction.

Ebert concludes with the fact that it will get cheaper to make movies, and will cost as much as it does to publish a book or music album. We'll call that one a split decision between $10,000 PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and $400M AVATAR.

Extra Tidbit: So, what predictions do you have for the industry for twenty years from now?

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