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TOPIC: Windows are GONE!

Windows are GONE! 22 Feb 2007 14:29 #14501

  • RoxyVaudeville
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The topic of clearences for theatrical releases before being made available to DVD is always a topic of major concern. The "Windows Watch" is the title of this months article by NATO president John Fithian in Box Office magazine.

Most of you are first run theatres and are indeed concerned about this issue, but what never receives any attention is the fact that shortening of the window hurts subruns even more. The window to DVD by Warner Bros. has now all but VANISHED.

My original topic title for this was to be WARNERS SUCKS, but being the gentleman that I always try to be, I decided to address the problem rather then the problem maker.

Recently the Academy Award nominated film "The Departed" was released by Warners to subruns on Fri. Feb. 9th, with the DVD release the following Tuesday the 13th, giving us 4 days to play the picture without DVD competition. As I am one who refuses to book on Monday for Friday so that I have time to advertise my next attraction, I was already set up with something else and couldn't book The Departed. As I will not play after DVD, the picture was lost to me.

Today I recieved an e-mail from Warners announcing a release date for "HAPPY FEET" for Friday March 16th. Earlier this week they thought that it would be March 2nd. The DVD release date is March 27th giving us 11 days to play the biggest picture to come out during the recent holiday period. This is a film that I would expect to play for at least 2 or 3 full weeks with several more weekends of matinees to follow. Now that has been destroyed for me and other subruns.

What are they thinking?

Usually Warners hit holiday film that opens in early November becomes available for Presidents day weekend, such as Harry Potter did last year. That holiday weekend is often the biggest weekend of the winter season for subruns. Not this year. No Biggie was available this year. "Museum" was, and is, still playing first run, so wasn't available from Fox, but HAPPY FEET is off in most areas, and has been out for 14 weeks already at that time. It will have been in release for 18 weeks when it comes available on March 27th.

E-mails have begun to circulate about the Warner policy throughout the day, most going to Warners decrying the policy, and being copied to all other theatre owners in the Philly district. The only reply from Warners is, they are being passed on, but don't expect to see a change.

I called NATO and asked to talk to John Fithian, but he is traveling enroute to somewhere, and I was told that my concern would be given to him, and that I would hear back from him.

Since as I mentioned earlier that this was the topic of John's article this very month, the timing couldn't be more perfect.

This gives NATO the opportunity to actually come out and show whether or not they really do care and stand up for the little guys.

The balls in their court, let's see what they do with it.


PS.It wouldn't hurt for NATO to hear from a few more subrun theatre operators about this as well.

NATO Washington office: 202 962-0054
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Re: Windows are GONE! 22 Feb 2007 18:16 #14502

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this is so disturbing!

I hope you're successful Roxy. Since we opened a video store in my theater a while back I've been noticing the shrinking window as well. I just finished with Rocky Balboa and I see it coming out on DVD on 3/21. That is getting awfully close for me. I can't help but wonder what my patrons are thinking when they see it on the video shelves only a few weeks after I play it on the big screen....
"What a crazy business"
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Re: Windows are GONE! 24 Feb 2007 02:45 #14503

  • Transit Drive in
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The DVD release revenues have replaced sub-run revenue for the studios. It's my impression that the studios could do without sub-run theatres entirely. In their eyes, we are fortunate they are giving us the 3-4 month window that we have now. Technology has sped everything up. If they wait too long for DVD, they lose money to piracy. I doubt that studios give much consideration, if any, to their sub-run policies. There is very little if anything that NATO is able do about it, other than sympathize with your dilemma.
"As long as there are sunsets and stars at night, there will always be drive-in movies."
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Re: Windows are GONE! 24 Feb 2007 09:54 #14504

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With all respect to Transit I couldn't disagree more. NATO could very easily start pushing back with organized boycotts of certain film companies-this was done very recently in Europe with excellent results. Remember this-once the subrun window totally collapses it is only a matter of time before the first run window is slowly erased completely. The time to shut the door is before the cow leaves the barn -not after.
John Fithian is not a leader-he is a toothless suit. For those daring enough to spend money on NATO-urge Fithian to resign NOW!
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Re: Windows are GONE! 24 Feb 2007 21:11 #14505

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I think everyone should bombard NATO with e-mails regarding this issue. And don't stop until we get a reply or something happens in our favor.
Send multiple e-mails to show were not joking. We are strong here on the boards and if everyone does this maybe it will make a difference.
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Re: Windows are GONE! 25 Feb 2007 15:29 #14506

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every now and then we book a picture that goes to dvd before it comes to us and I have never really noticed that it hurt. A few weeks here and there, who knows. It would be interesting to play Departed or Happy feet and see what happened.

Michael Hurley
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Re: Windows are GONE! 25 Feb 2007 22:23 #14507

  • Transit Drive in
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Narrow Gauge:
<B> With all respect to Transit I couldn't disagree more. NATO could very easily start pushing back with organized boycotts of certain film companies-this was done very recently in Europe with excellent results. Remember this-once the subrun window totally collapses it is only a matter of time before the first run window is slowly erased completely. The time to shut the door is before the cow leaves the barn -not after.
John Fithian is not a leader-he is a toothless suit. For those daring enough to spend money on NATO-urge Fithian to resign NOW!</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Organized boycotts by trade associations are illegal in this country under Anti-Trust law. Things work a little differently on this side of the pond. NATO has done, and is doing, everything within its power to maintain existing windows. There are two main reasons for shrinking windows:

1. Movie theft on the Internet.
2. Investor impatience for quicker financial returns.

Sub-run revenues for the studios do not outweigh the threat of piracy or the financial aspects of funding studio movies.

I have a great amount of respect for John Fithian. I doubt any current NATO members or anyone familair with his accomplishments would wish for his resignation.
"As long as there are sunsets and stars at night, there will always be drive-in movies."
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Re: Windows are GONE! 26 Feb 2007 00:18 #14508

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If your happy with the state of the theater insustry in America than by all means continue spouting the NATO line. If your happy with Fithians accomplishments -keep paying your dues.
This industry is under attack more now than I have seen in my 20 years as an owner. Only history will tell us if the present NATO leadership did all that they could in the face of these ever changing times. I am confident of what the answer will be.
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Re: Windows are GONE! 26 Feb 2007 12:48 #14509

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Why not just book them and pay the 30%? It seems just about any movie can be booked for 30% that is more than 5-6 weeks old.

The subrun theatre in my area has been doing just that. They are $3 for all seats all shows.

Would it not be better to have movies that are 5 weeks old vs 12 weeks old?
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Re: Windows are GONE! 28 Feb 2007 16:24 #14510

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I just saw my local paper and every start of the month they have all the new release. Cinema and DVD. The movies that are coming out in March are all Christmas releases. More an more people are saying why am I wasting my money to go to the movies if in a few weeks (A bit exaggerated but getting to be true) it will be on DVD.
Then I fight about the big screen experience and that saying is becoming a lost argument.
What are we going to do? I am scared for the industry!
It is not the end of movies but the end of the silver screen I feel. And the screen is not even silver anymore!
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Re: Windows are GONE! 01 Mar 2007 00:32 #14511

  • RoxyVaudeville
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rufusjack, I'm curious to know what part of the country you are in? Here in the Mid-Atlantic area, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburg etc. it is not possible to book a film subrun for 30%. Usually the first week is 35% with some distribs going down to 30% for additional weeks, but not many. Some films open at 40%, and once in a great while a big blockbuster will still command 50% for it's first week subrun.

Warner Bros., Disney, and Paramount all have national subrun availabilities, and their films are not made available to any (or so they say) subruns anywhere in the country until that date. Each distributor has it's own pricing policy as to what they consider subrun. Warners will serve you as soon as the first run in your area comes off if you charge at least $4.00. If under that you wait for the national subrun date. Disney and Paramount look for $3.00. It's usually based on whatever their per capita policy is.

In regards to John Fithian, I spoke with him a couple of times this past week about this issue. He made it a point to get back to me, not just to return my call, but to later update me on what he was doing about the problem. He spoke with Warners Vice President of Distribution and relaid the concerns of those of us that took the time to contact him. I understand there was an e-mail campaign sent directly to Warners from a number of exhibitors as well. I had also e-mailed Warners, but not as a part of any organized effort to do so, but rather as an individual exhibitor. Our local branch manager told me that at least I hadn't copied someone elses mass e-mail, and took the time to delve into the points of contention in detail.

Regardless of who or what managed to change their minds, Warners did move the availability up a week to the 9th, giving us another week before the DVD release.

It may not seem like much, but often change comes one step at a time. So let's hope this is just a beginning.



[This message has been edited by RoxyVaudeville (edited March 01, 2007).]
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Re: Windows are GONE! 01 Mar 2007 16:54 #14512

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..... most under attack ever? Isn't everything? How would you like to own a video store and be calling your organization to make net flix go away and stop file sharing and pay per view. How about a mom and pop drug store and Rite Aid comes to town? How about being a film company that makes a big film only to have it pirated. And on, and on, and on. I am not saying there is not a challenge. I am saying that if you think NATO with its 4-6 employees can turn the tide of civilization you are barking up a tree that does not exist. The challenges are to be dealt with as best you can. If there is some specific thing you think NATO should do that is reasonable and doable I am all for it but I think setting the bar too high does not help.

Michael Hurley
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Re: Windows are GONE! 01 Mar 2007 21:27 #14513

  • Narrow Gauge
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Thank you for proving what I have been saying along-NATO is not an effective trade organization as it exists now. The bar too High?? Give me a break! It is this good enough attitude which has lead to movie theater industry having such a negative view in the public eye. Sorry, before I join a trade orginization I want to see some coherent vision of the future-apparently thats too much to ask.
The only way this industry will survive is by setting the bar high - digital sound, comfortable seats, real butter, superb customer service, a quality and clean environment and reasonable prices. I strive for these qualities in my theaters-I don't always meet these expectations but I will never ever adopt the philosophy that is so prevailant in this industry of "GOOD ENOUGH" I certainly won't settle for less in a trade orginization.
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Re: Windows are GONE! 01 Mar 2007 22:43 #14514

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Children of Men : a fantastically crafted film. Universal did not treat its release with much dignity, now the studio is pushing the film to DVD at the end of this month. It was released on Christmas! This is the shortest window I've ever heard of. http://www.dvdactive.com/news/releases/children-of-men3.html
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Re: Windows are GONE! 02 Mar 2007 11:23 #14515

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That still gives us a few weeks before you can rent it at Mcdonalds for 99 cents. My customers remind me of this often!
Later
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