In this day and age the average consumer expects to be able to buy what they want when they want and receive it in a reasonable amount of time. That's certainly what I was thinking when I first saw the trailer for the new Tom Cruise movie, Oblivion.
This movie won't be out until next April, but the first trailer has been posted online and it looks intriguing. I don't quite understand the story, but it looked like it could be interesting so as soon as I learned that it was based on a graphic novel of the same name I started looking to see where I could buy it.
Universal bought the movie rights to the graphic novel in 2010, so I figured that it had to have been out since at least early 2011 and available somewhere, in paper if nothing else.
Nope. It's not available in the Kindle or any other ebookstore nor could I find it via Inkmesh, the ebook search engine, or BookFinder, Amazon's pbook search engine. I couldn't even find it on The Pirate Bay.
Finally I broke down and contacted the publisher, Radical Studios, and this is what I was told:
The graphic novel is currently in development and is scheduled to release next year to coincide with the movie. As a result, it is currently unavailable. The release of the novel is a complex issue that involves both us and Universal hence the delay.
Yes, windowing is alive and well in 2012, in spite of the fact that it makes absolutely no sense in this case.
For those not familiar with the term, windowing is industry jargon which refers to media companies deciding to delay the release of content. Whether the content is simply not sold into a particular market (Australia, for example), or is delayed in one form (a song might not be available on Spotify months after it is released), windowing is a tool which some in media companies use to try to boost income.
It is, for example, the reason why a movie might hit theaters one month, pay-per-view the next month, DVD 2 months later, and then finally Netflix the month after that. Have you ever gotten annoyed when an episode of your favorite show arrived on Hulu a month after it airs on TV? That is windowing.
As you can imagine, this frustrates customers and sometimes leads to piracy. But in this case it just leaves me pissed off.
Leaving aside the fact that I want to spend my money and am being told NO, blocking the release of this graphic novel is probably costing Universal free advertising.
Right now there are no comics blogs talking about the graphic novel, and there are no SF blogs talking about the graphic novel. That is a lot of free buzz which the movie isn't getting.
And I seriously doubt that I am the only frustrated reader. Pretty much anyone who reads SF has, at one point or another, seen an interesting movie trailer (or movie) and bought the related book.
The lost sales aren't helping. Each person who can't buy the graphic novel is one more person who cannot share details online, something which would help to build interest in the $140 million movie.
That's an awfully large investment to make in a movie just to through away free buzz, isn't it? Let's hope it doesn't bite Universal in the ass.