Video-rental stores were once ubiquitous all over the country.

For, Friday, April 14, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: There’s been a lot of Internet babble of late about how streaming is going to eliminate DVDs and Blu-rays. Eventually, perhaps. And video sales have equaled or surpassed the box-office take for the majority of movie releases for some time now. Here’s a ‘Hicks on Flicks’ column (under he headline ‘Hollywood raking in more from TV than theaters’) published in the Deseret News on Dec. 29, 1985, when video rentals/sales (VHS tapes way back then) caught up with movie-ticket sales for the first time.

Among its other contributions to history and art, 1985 will go down as the first year videocassettes equaled theatrical films in terms of profit.

Hollywood made considerably more money from TV than theaters this year, also a first, with theaters raking in about $1 ½ billion, and combined pre-recorded videocassettes sales and cable/syndicated/network TV sales amounting to more than $2 ½ billion.

And before that knocks you over, be advised that the revenue from video sales alone — roughly the same as theatrical sales, $1 ½ billion — was twice the amount generated last year and is expected to nearly double again next year.


For the film buffs among us, that’s nothing to cry about, as it makes even more secure our being able to gather in our personal film libraries just about anything we want to have.

But the flip side is the frightening thought that today’s up-and-coming moviemakers may be thinking of the small screen instead of the large screen when setting up shots in new movies: More close-ups, fewer long shots, less attention to detail and visual style.

Of course that’s already a problem, as many of today’s moviemakers were weaned on television and it shows.


And when you look at the movies of 1985, realizing how few films were released that really require theatrical showings for full impact, how few will actually lose something on TV’s reduced screens, it’s a sad commentary on the state of the art.

Still, when someone like Steven Spielberg can tackle the human drama of “The Color Purple” and Sydney Pollack can aim for stunning visual content in “Out of Africa,” there is always that glimmer of hope for the future.

And though I’ll admit that those two films will one day be in my own video library, I’ll not hesitate to see them on the wide screen again anyway.

That’s what they were made for, and that’s the only place their full impact can be realized.