Exhibitors have drawn a line in the sand, steadfastly resisting the compression of release dates that they view as a threat to their livelihood. They get nervous when a studio attempts to release a movie on DVD less than 90 days after opening in theaters. Nonetheless, theater executives now are acknowledging they may need to adapt.
“We’re going to protect our side of the business,” said Amy Miles, chief executive of Regal Entertainment Group, the nation’s largest theater circuit. But “we’d like to think that we’d work with the studios as business models evolved.”
It’s a delicate balancing act.
Theater operators want to be open to change without undercutting ticket sales, which have been remarkably strong. Above all, they hope the studios won’t be oblivious to their concerns. “We want to know what’s going to happen, and we want to have some input,” said Tony Kerasotes, chief executive of Kerasotes Showplace Theatres and chairman of the National Assn. of Theatre Owners, a trade group.
For all their talk, however, studios say they’re not ready to do away with windows entirely, fearing it could cannibalize their own business.
“People always say consumers want it all now, and Hollywood needs to change its business models,” said Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment. “But I’ve yet to see anyone show up with a simultaneous-release model that works.
“We need to experiment and allow consumers to take advantage of new technologies and ways to experience movies conveniently.”
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