Release Windows Shorten as Studios Eye New Tactics

Would you pay $30 to watch a movie in your home one month after it was released in the theaters?

Time Warner cable is hoping you will.

Warner Bros executives floated the idea at a cable industry convention last week. Calling the plan "Home Theater On Demand,"  big studios such as Disney, Universal, Sony, Paramount, and 20th Century Fox are all putting their support behind the idea.

Back in the day, (in other words, last year) the standard window between the end of a film's theatrical run and its' release to DVD was about 6 months. But as Hollywood sees its DVD sales dropping, studios are looking at ways to squeeze the cash cow a little tighter.

This past February, Disney asked exhibitors (the movie house owners) to agree to shorten the window for Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" by four weeks so they could get the movie into the hands of kids before the Summer blockbuster season started and while the movie was still fresh in consumers minds.

But as studios see this as a way of boosting sagging profits of DVD and Blu-Ray sales, theater owners are growing concerned that the shortened window will take a bite out of the box office.

The situation is dicey, since there is a possibility that exhibitors might balk at the shortened window and refuse to screen a studio's movie altogether.  Of course, a studio may strong-arm the exhibitors into going along with their plan or risk not being able to screen the studio's big tentpole blockbuster when it's released.

Right now there is a symbosis in Hollywood: Studios need theaters to show their movies, and theaters need good movies so they can make a profit selling rediculously overpriced candy and popcorn. But as new technology emerges, will studios start moving their films out of the theater and more into the living room?

Is this the first salvo in what could be a massive war between studios and the theaters that have kept them in business?

Expect to hear more about "Home Theater On Demand" in the coming months.

1 comment:

J_Jammer said...

I think that it would work if they could find a price that was reasonable. 30$ is excessive. Unless it comes with perks. Then again not so bad if your family is a family of five and now Movie tickets (because of Studio's taking a big chunk of percentage in first week sales) are, on average, $10 a pop then it would be an awesome deal.

I think that a ticket should be an investment toward the DVD in some way...

Theaters need to become either more like a drafthouse or find their own niche of neat. Because what use to be...won't and they'll be left with dwindling patrons. People will opt for home so they can multi-task with laptop and viewing or whatever they choose to while the film is on since they have no one to silence them.

By the way...I like the colors of the website. But that could just be me.

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