Edited by Dina Iordanova and Stuart Cunningham

978-0-9563730-7-6 (paperback)
978-0-9563730-9-0 (hardback)

£19.99 (paperback), 223 pages
£50.00 (hardback), 223 pages

St Andrews Film Studies, 2012


Digital Disruption

Cinema Moves On-line

‘Nobody knows anything’, said William Goldman of studio filmmaking. The rule is ever more apt as we survey the radical changes that digital distribution, along with the digitisation of production and exhibition, is wreaking on global film circulation.

Digital Disruption: Cinema Moves On-line helps to make sense of what has happened in the short but turbulent history of on-line distribution. It provides a realistic assessment of the genuine and not-so-promising methods that have been tried to address the disruptions that moving from ‘analogue dollars’ to ‘digital cents’ has provoked in the film industry. Paying close attention to how the Majors have dealt with the challenges – often unsuccessfully – it focuses as much attention on innovations and practices outside the mainstream. Throughout, it is alive to, and showcases, important entrepreneurial innovations such as Mubi, Jaman, Withoutabox and IMDb.

Written by leading academic commentators that have followed the fortunes of world cinema closely and passionately, as well as experienced hands close to the fluctuating fortunes of the industry, Digital Disruption: Cinema Moves On-line is an indispensable guide to great changes in film and its audiences.


Stuart Cunningham, Marijke de Valck, Alex Fischer, Michael Franklin, Michael Gubbins, Dina Iordanova, Mark David Ryan, Ben Slater, Jon Silver


Digital Disruption

Digital Disruption: Technological Innovation and Global Film Circulation (Dina Iordanova)

On-line Film Distribution: Its History and Global Complexion (Stuart Cunningham and Jon Silver)

Digital Revolution: Active Audiences and Fragmented Consumption (Michael Gubbins)

Internet-enabled Dissemination: Managing Uncertainty in the Film Value Chain (Michael Franklin)

Convergence, Digitisation and the Future of Film Festivals (Marijke De Valck)

Cinema Moves On-line

Mission Unreachable: How Jaman Is Shaping the Future of On-line Distribution (Jon Silver, Stuart Cunningham, Mark David Ryan)

‘IMDb Helps Me Sleep at Night’: How a Simple Database Changed the World of Film (Alex Fischer)

‘The Fully Clickable Submission’: How Withoutabox Captured the Hearts and Minds of Film Festivals Everywhere (Alex Fischer)

Spotlight on MUBI: Two Interviews with Efe Cakarel, Founder and CEO of MUBI (Paul Fileri and Ruby Cheung)

‘What Do You Do with What You See?’: Patterns and Uses of Cinéphilia, Then and Now (Ben Slater)


Appendix 1: Timeline – On-line Distribution of Feature Films (Stuart Cunningham and Jon Silver)

Appendix 2: A Selection of (Mostly Legal) VOD and On-line Content Providers (Stuart Cunningham and Jon Silver)

Appendix 3: Comparative Internet Rankings: 40 International On-line Movies-on-demand Sites (Stuart Cunningham and Jon Silver)

Appendix 4: Comparative Deal Terms in 2009 (Stuart Cunningham and Jon Silver)

Appendix 5: Related Websites (Alexander Marlow-Mann)


Angus Finney (consultant and industry executive, Film Business Academy, City University, London)

Digital Disruption is a must read for all researchers and practitioners interested in the changing shape and circulation of filmed content. This book amounts to much more than the sum of its parts by addressing compelling and highly relevant areas of enquiry and employing fine research delivered in a transparent and accessible writing style. Digital Disruption enables the reader to leap onto a fast moving train without being knocked off balance by the rush of the wind. Highly recommended.

Nick Roddick (Sight and Sound's 'Mr.Busy')

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this collection of essays. Ever since digital technology began to transform the media landscape, various self-appointed pundits – myself included – have been predicting the final outcome, with results that have ranged from a utopian belief that film is finally being democratised to various versions of the end-of-the-cinema-as-we-know-it scenario. Now, at last, we have what we needed: some rigorous academic thinking on the subject combined with detailed analysis of what exactly is going on in the fast-developing world of downloads, streaming video and Swedish pirates. The people who really need to read this book – the Hollywood studios – probably won’t. But anyone else remotely interested in the future of cinema should do so.

Jonathan Clements, 'Being Digital', Manga UK, 23rd May 2012.

Read review.

Axel Scoffier, 'Repenser l’industrie du cinéma à l’ère numérique. Cinema Moves Online',  INA Global, 17th December 2012.

Read review.

Tara Judah, in of Media International Australia Issue No. 147, May 2013, p. 160.

“This collection of essays offers not only an in-depth study of where modes of reception are situated within the contemporary context, but also a detailed trajectory of the digital innovation that has already taken place – an aspect often sidelined by theoretical projection. In removing futuristic speculation from the discussion and replacing it with an interrogation predicated on empirical research to date, Digital Disruption: Cinema Moves Online provides the global context and situational thinking that has, until now, largely been absent in broader debates surrounding audience viewing practices and dominant or progressive modes of cinema reception. In highlighting a cyclical chain of supply and demand, Digital Disruption examines the relationship between conglomerates and individuals, revealing a fluidity between the two that dispels myths of tension.”