We do windows…

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The Hollywood Reporter takes note of a couple of recent extremely narrow release windows:

The Windows War is on again.

Paramount’s recent move to schedule two DVDs for release less than three months after their theatrical openings has renewed hostilities between Hollywood studios and movie theater operators.

Last week, Par scheduled its summer action hit “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” for a Nov. 3 debut on shiny disc, or 88 days after its release in theaters. It also set the Jeremy Piven comedy “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard” for DVD release Nov. 10, also 88 days from its theatrical bow.

The article goes on to note NATO’s release window tracking reports, which are available here. Our last report covered films with announced home release dates through September 25. The article gives our updated numbers through October 12.

Needless to say, exhibitors are not shy about expressing their opinions.

“I view the studios as our partners, but it seems like the rules of the game are changing,” Cineplex chief Ellis Jacob said. “That’s a concern. We at Cineplex have invested a lot of money in our theaters and in new technology such as 3D. So when something like this happens, it creates an issue with people from the standpoint of entertainment choices. If a guest of ours knows a movie is going to be on DVD in less than 90 days, then they know that if they miss it they can catch it on DVD not too much later.”

Regal’s president, Greg Dunn, made his company’s views clear.

“Maintaining the appropriate timeline or windows between the theatrical release and ancillary markets is critical and essential for the overall good of the film industry,” Dunn said. “If the existing windows policies were significantly adjusted, we would aggressively respond — as we would toward any policy that would negatively impact the industry.”

The Reporter’s Carl Diorio got no on-the-record responses from Fox or paramount.


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  • What this piece fails to mention are several, longer windows. Star Trek, for example, debuted in May with a November home video release. (That’s about 7 months.) Up was also a May debut; the DVD/BD also comes out in November. Terminator Salvation and Night at the Museum 2 are in the same boat. X-Men Origins: Wolverine had five months. In fact, look at Four Christmases from last year. It’s just coming out this November, nearly a year after opening in theaters.

    The following quote from Mr. Dunn is quite laughable, when you think about it: “If the existing windows policies were significantly adjusted, we would aggressively respond — as we would toward any policy that would negatively impact the industry.” What is Regal going to do? Not carry Transformers 3, GI Joe 2, Star Trek 2 or other Paramount films? That strategy will only hurt Regal. Audiences who want to see those films but can’t at Regal theaters will go somewhere else.

    If exhibitors want to preserve the movie going experience, they should look at ways of improving the experience. $10 for a ticket, plus concessions? People talking on the phone, kicking your seat or otherwise being rude? Also, understand the fact better home theater systems coupled with lower rental/sell through prices are a much better value proposition for the audience.

  • Clearly, there are films with longer theatrical release windows. That is the point of mentioning the two Paramount releases with unusually short windows. The windows data for all films released through September 25 are available at the link in the post.

    You may pay $10 a ticket at your local theater, but the current average ticket price is $7.45. Let’s put that in perspective. The average ticket price in 1969 was $1.42. Adjusted for inflation, that ticket would cost $8.36 in 2009 dollars. As far as a value proposition is concerned, consumers seem to be voting with their dollars. Box office through this past weekend is up 7.3% and ticket sales are up 3.4%. Home entertainment spending for the first three quarters is down 13.9%. Whether the home or theatrical experience is a better value proposition, your opinion (not a fact) is that the home experience rules. I, and many others, would beg to differ. That’s what makes the world go ’round.

    As for what Regal ad other theater companies will do should windows continue to shorten – that is for them to decide. It is clear, though, that a shorter window is bad for the movie industry. Short windows are often associated in the consumer’s mind with poorer quality films. Too short an average window, and the choice becomes a simple dollar and cents calculation, eroding the theatrical audience and studio revenues. The home market is already in a race to $0 – the Redbox model is incompatible with the expense of making, marketing and releasing the average studio film.

    If you care about movies – and moviegoing – the theatrical release window is important.

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