In a well worth reading interview with The Hollywood Reporter George Lucas mentions where he sees the future of Theatrical Releases:
I don’t think the theatrical exhibition business will go away because I
think people will always want to go to the movies, just as they go to
the opera, they go to the ballet, and they go to football games.
Football is a perfect example, where you can stay at home and watch it
in the comfort of your own home and see a much better presentation, but
people still sit out in the cold and cheer on (their teams) … and you
can’t see anything because it’s all distant. And now they have giant
screens so you can watch it on television right there — but they still
fill up 100,000-seat (stadiums). We’ll end up with fewer theaters with
bigger screens and better presentations, and the theater owners will
work very hard to make the whole thing an event.
If you ask me, this sounds like a perfect role for Disney to fill. They’re experts at event making. If they could figure out how to produce and distribute a theatrical event with each film, I think it would help drive box office.
For example, why is Hollywood’s El Capitan theatre the only theatre with a character pre-show or a Q&A session with Disney legends. With digital technology and internet broadband those could be simulcast around the nation to many more theatres. Exclusive props, digital extras, and behind-the-scenes footage could be available for download onto ipods or thumbdrives right at the movie theatre. Is there anyone out there working on this stuff?
I have one more question for George, when will Star Tours be updated at the Disney themeparks?