‘Hancock’ Gets an Experimental Release

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It seems fairly certain that Hancock will do decent business when it hits theaters this week, if only because Will Smith rarely stars in a dud these days -- especially when it's his face selling the movie before all else. Whether or not the film has staying power after opening weekend, however, remains to be seen, but Sony Pictures clearly has a lot of faith in its potential: Last week, the studio revealed its intentions of releasing the film online sometime after its theatrical run and before its DVD release, but only to users with Sony Bravia TV sets. It's a bold maneuver, one that assumes its core base of consumers actually have an interest in Hancock -- but the movie will make a profit either way, so it's a reasonable choice for this intriguing experiment.

Left in the dust by Apple's iPod, Sony continues to struggle in its search for a piece of the digital revolution. Company head Howard Stringer recently told the New York Times that the strategy for releasing Hancock "vanishes the memory of the failures of the Sony Walkman." Well, maybe. While on-demand technology has changed the way audiences consume their media, they don't like paying more money than necessary. Asking your audiences to buy a special device in order to access what, at this point, amounts to one movie -- well, that's asking a lot. But it's still a step in the right direction.

What do you think?

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