That’s twice studios have blinked. But how sturdy are those windows?
How long will studios continue to defer to exhibitors on theatrical windows? Does it make sense for them to do so as other windows collapse further down the distribution chain?
In the past few weeks, NATO, the trade org for theater owners, has won concessions twice. First, Paramount delayed the homevid debut of “The Goods” to make amends for a speedy release of “G.I. Joe.” More significantly, Sony abandoned its plans to release “This Is It” on DVD for the holidays due to pushback from theaters.
Sony argued that the movie was different given its limited theatrical release, the LAT reported yesterday, but theater owners did not see it that way, and the studio ultimately backed off.
“We didn’t want it to be an issue,” Sony’s Jeff Blake told the LAT. “At the end of the day, we wanted a big theatrical run and they certainly stepped up and supported that.”
But how long will studios remain this conciliatory? Theatrical coin is a fraction of overall revenue each pic brings into studios, which are run by congloms with broad media interests. Window management has become exceedingly complex with so many corporate issues at play.
Studios have already begun to experiment with windows further down the chain, collapsing VOD windows on a growing number of titles, for example. The TV and publishing sectors are also experimenting with their distribution models.
Will greater compression of the theatrical window be next? Disney chieftain Bob Iger recently revived the issue, suggesting the time is right. It will interesting to see how this fight plays out.