“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.
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