It would be hard to find anyone who would argue with the notion that Roger Ebert is perhaps the most influential film critic of our time (and with all of his tweets, blog posts and freelance essays, one of our most prolific too). But it turns out that Ebert has also had an uncanny knack for predicting film's technological future too.
The blog Paleofuture dug up a fascinating excerpt from a 1987 interview with Ebert and the late Gene Siskel from Omni magazine, where Ebert weighed in on just how radically different the delivery and distribution of movies would be in the not-so-distant future.
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, inhabiting a primitive world where the biggest movies of the moment were such cinematic fossils as "Three Men and a Baby" and "Beverly Hills Cop II," Ebert took a pretty impressive stab at swami-like crystal ball gazing:
"We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it. You'll not go to a video store but instead order a movie on demand and then pay for it. Videocassette tapes as we know them now will be obsolete both for showing prerecorded movies and for recording movies. People will record films on 8mm and will play them back using laser-disk/CD technology. I also am very, very excited by the fact that before long, alternative films will penetrate the entire country. Today seventy-five percent of the gross from a typical art film in America comes from as few as six - six - different theaters in six different cities. Ninety percent of the American motion-picture marketplace never shows art films. With this revolution in delivery and distribution, anyone, in any size town or hamlet, will see the movies he or she wants to see."
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