A group of Hollywood directors and producers has joined the fight over the imminent plan by major studios to release movies through a premium VOD service that will make them available much earlier than current services, the L.A. Times reported in its Company Town blog.
About two dozen Hollywood directors and producers signed an open letter released Wednesday by the National Association of Theatre Owners, criticizing the premium VOD model. Among those signing the letter were James Cameron and Peter Jackson, according to the story.
As reported previously, DirecTV planned to launch the Home Premiere service Thursday, April 21, 2011, starting with the Adam Sandler comedy “Just Go With It.” The plan will make movies available about two months after their release to theaters–half the waiting time of current VOD models and DVD releases. Among the studios that are on board are Universal, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Sony.
The letter from directors and producers says in part: "As a crucial part of a business that last year grossed close to $32 billion in worldwide theatrical ticket sales, we in the creative community feel that now is the time for studios and cable companies to acknowledge that a release pattern for premium video-on-demand that invades the current theatrical window could irrevocably harm the financial model of our film industry."
The story notes that Warner Bros.’ "Hall Pass," Universal Pictures’ "The Adjustment Bureau" and Fox Searchlight’s "Cedar Rapids" are all lined up for premium VOD releases in the near future.
“Premium-priced VOD is foreseen as a new revenue source for studios looking to offset declining DVD sales, as well as a boon for cable companies that have been stymied in their efforts to deliver movies into the home earlier in part because of concerns it could cannibalize home video sales,” the story says. “Studios are looking to experiment with new business models at a time when DVD revenue is down about 40% from the market high and box-office revenue and attendance is off 20% this year.”