Studios and Theater Chains Poised for ‘Epic Fight’

Nov 19, 2018  •  Post A Comment

“Hollywood may want to brace itself for another epic fight. At least two major studios — Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures — are expected to reignite discussions about early video-on-demand, sources tell Variety, a move that could lead to a protracted standoff with theater chains,” Variety reports.

The report notes that big battles have been waged over the issue of “theatrical windowing” for the past decade. That’s the industry term for the length of time a movie appears exclusively in movie theaters.

“Studios argue that they need to be able to release films on home entertainment platforms earlier as a way to combat piracy and capitalize on expensive advertising campaigns publicizing a picture’s debut in theaters,” Variety reports. “Exhibitors counter that a shorter window could cannibalize ticket sales and encourage consumers to skip the multiplexes, and wait to see a movie when they can rent or buy it.”

Most theatrical releases currently do not become available in the home until about 90 days after their premiere in multiplexes.

The two sides came close last year to what Variety calls a “grand bargain,” until “negotiations stalled out and were abandoned when Disney announced plans to buy the bulk of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets,” Variety reports. “That took one major advocate for collapsing windows off the board, weakening studios’ leverage. Compounding issues, Warner Bros., another supporter of shorter windows, had to deal with larger corporate issues as it waited for its former parent company, Time Warner, to be sold to AT&T.”

Look for the AT&T-owned Warner Bros., Comcast-owned Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and possibly other studios to revisit the hot topic in 2019, Variety says.

We encourage readers to click on the link above to Variety to read the full report.


  1. Not likely to see the light of day in a studio, but here’s some suggestions for the studios.

    1) Release movies in theaters simultaneously worldwide.

    2) Release home video the same way (no sooner than 90 days after 1st theatrical run ends) and get rid of region coding.

    If nothing else, get rid of region coding.

    3) The following is aimed primarily at Disney. If you have a 3D theatrical in the U.S. and release a 3D home video version anywhere else in the world, release that 3D home video in the U.S. as well.

    If present trends continue, I’ll soon cease attending 3D theatrical releases if I know I am not likely to be able to get a 3D home video release. Why should I pay more for a theater experience I can’t experience again because I can’t re-create it at home? It’s the whole point of home theater. And if that happens, I may as well cease attending 2D theatrical releases as well and just wait for the home video. I figure I’ll save about 75% of what I currently spend on movie entertainment. For almost every Disney/Pixar release for the past 4 decades, I’ve typically bought 3 to 4 (and often more) movie tickets. Disney/Pixar home video releases are a sure thing with me… so why bother seeing them in theaters?

    4) Hold off on downloading/streaming releases until 90 days after home video releases. As an aside, my internet provider (like many) makes streaming unfeasible.

    5) Stop releasing DVDs. This should have happened nearly a decade ago.

    Like VHS before it, it appears some can’t help trying to wring every last penny out of a dead end format. How short-sighted is this?

    Can you imagine if Henry Ford had also been a horse breeder when he was building cars… then, after becoming successful with the Model T, he kept offering horses for sale?

    DVDs are going to be the VHS tapes of the 2020s. People (and home video) should have moved on by now. It’s not like DVDs won’t play in blu-ray/4K players.

    There will be all kinds of excuses as to why these suggestions are impractical/won’t work. But that’s all they will be… excuses.

    • Not excuses if there are valid changes in industry debating parts of your plan. Some great ideas and some of your advice assumes the entire movie going population is just like you. They are not. The whole industry is having a seismic shift towards OTT and utilizing their expensive risks to make it work or die out. Changes will come with screen time going to phones and social media instead of traditional places. Baby boomers aren’t the cash cow any longer.

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