Hundreds of classic films remain locked away in musty movie studio vaults, just waiting for somebody to make them available to the public.
Movie history experts estimate some 700 films from the 1930s and 40s are sequestered in the vaults of Universal Pictures alone. As the LA Times points out in a recent article, a lot of people would love to have access to these classics:
“Will McKinley, a New York film writer, is dying to get his hands on a copy of ‘Alias Nick Beal,’ a 1949 film noir starring Ray Milland as a satanic gangster. For classic film blogger Nora Fiore, the Grail might be ‘The Wild Party’ (1929), the first talkie to star 1920's ‘It’ girl Clara Bow, directed by the pioneering female director Dorothy Arzner. Film critic Leonard Maltin says he'd like to score a viewing of ‘Hotel Haywire,’ a 1937 screwball comedy written by the great comic director Preston Sturges.”
Universal and other movie studios recognize the marketable value in classic films, as well as publicity value in serving as responsible stewards of cultural assets. But studios still face a daunting question: how do they make their treasure trove of films accessible to the public in an economically viable way?
Producing DVDs gets expensive, and the market remains limited by the retail distribution network. It costs a lot to employ people, pay rent, and keep the lights on – even if you’re an Amazon warehouse. Some studios have created their own streaming services, but there again, the studios incur the cost of developing and maintaining the infrastructure.
"The studios seem to be sitting on a lot of films, but they're limited by budget and by their projected return on investment," Alan Rode, a director of the Film Noir Foundation, told the LA Times. "But it's not like you open a valve and films come gushing out. If they can't realize a profit on it, they're not going to do it."
In fact, LBRY is a valve that could literally gush movies.
The LBRY platform allows movie buffs like Will McKinley and Nora Fiore to connect directly to content published by anyone – including major movie studios. It also lets producers distribute content to niche markets in an economically viable way.
Universal could easily publish “Alias Nick Beal” at the URL lbry://AliasNickBeal. Classic film lovers searching for the movie by title or keyword could then access the link and spend credits to watch the movie. Universal gets paid, and the user gets a hassle-free, seamless movie-viewing experience, all without any reserving server space or negotiating complex licensing deals.
LBRY provides just the outlet movie studios need to bring these wonderful classic films out of their musty vaults and into the living rooms of eager movie fans. Let’s open the valve!