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NATO, directors, produces push back 20 Apr 2011 15:08 #35794

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Movie Directors and Producers Question Wisdom of Early “Premium” VOD
Creative Community Speaks Out in Open Letter
(Los Angeles, CA: April 20, 2011) — Twenty-three leading directors and producers called into question plans to shorten the current model of theatrical release windows in an open letter (attached) to be published Thursday, April 21 in an industry trade publication. The letter is the first public step in an ongoing effort by theater owners to air the concerns of all movie industry stakeholders in the release window issue.

In light of the imminent launch by some studios of a “premium” video-on-demand (VOD) service that would radically shorten the current average four-month, 12 day window between the opening of a film theatrically and its release to the home market, the filmmakers chose to speak out.

“As a crucial part of a business that last year grossed close to $32 billion in worldwide theatrical ticket sales,” the letter states, “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 letter also details a variety of concerns that the creative community has over announced premium VOD release plans that could negatively alter consumer buying habits, exacerbate film piracy, and severely limit the ability of theater owners to play specialty films in platform release patterns.

"You can argue about VOD windows all day long, but what you can't deny is that there is an overwhelming outcry from the theater owners that they feel threatened by this,” said director James Cameron (Terminator, Titanic, Avatar). “The cinema experience is the wellspring of our entire business, regardless of what platforms we trickle down to. If the exhibitors are worried, I'm worried. We should be listening to them. Why on earth would you give audiences an incentive to skip the highest and best form of your film? My films aren't going to the home early, but many will, and that will weaken the movie theater industry—and then my movies are threatened."

Director Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Aeon Flux, Jennifer’s Body) said, “As someone who hopes to have the ability to keep making small movies alongside the opportunity to make some bigger ones, I am concerned by how much a shortened VOD window might affect a filmmaker like me. This shortened window might imperil the robustness, and challenge the already shrinking flexibility in programming, of the very venue that makes movie-making, and movie-watching, the work we choose to do.”

Producer Jamie Patricof (Half Nelson, Blue Valentine) stated, “The theatrical window is a crucial component in bringing a film to the marketplace, especially for a smaller movie that relies on word of mouth. If moviegoers assume they don't have to go to the theater to catch something that has great word-of-mouth, they most likely will not.”

Over the last several months National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) executives have met with a broad range of film industry professionals on those issues. “The directors and producers we’ve talked to are passionate filmmakers and very informed business people who care deeply about their art and craft,” John Fithian, president and CEO of NATO, said, “Whether they are the makers of blockbusters or independent films, Oscar winners or just starting their careers, all have expressed extreme concern over announced plans to shorten the distribution window, and stated their desire that films can be seen in the venues they were made to be seen in: movie theaters.”

The open letter will also be available on NATO’s website at www.natoonline.org <www.natoonline.org> . Additional filmmakers who wish to sign the letter or learn more can send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call the NATO offices in Los Angeles at (818) 506-1778 or Washington, D.C., at (202) 962-0054.

About NATO
The National Association of Theatre Owners is the largest exhibition trade organization in the world, representing more than 30,000 movie screens in all 50 states, and additional cinemas in 50 countries worldwide.

Press Contacts
Ross Johnson, ph: (310) 854-4780, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Patrick Corcoran, ph: (818) 506-1778, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Patrick Corcoran
NATO
Director of Media & Research,
California Operations Chief
818-506-1778
www.natoonline.org
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Re: NATO, directors, produces push back 20 Apr 2011 15:09 #35795

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AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE CREATIVE COMMUNITY ON PROTECTING THE MOVIE-GOING EXPERIENCE

We are the artists and business professionals who help make the movie business great. We produce and direct movies. We work on the business deals that help get movies made. At the end of the day, we are also simply big movie fans.
Lately, there’s been a lot of talk by leaders at some major studios and cable companies about early-to-the-home “premium video-on-demand.” In this proposed distribution model, new movies can be shown in homes while these same films are still in their theatrical run.
In this scenario, those who own televisions with an HDMI input would be able to order a film through their cable system or an Internet provider as a digital rental. Terms and timing have yet to be made concrete, but there has been talk of windows of 60 days after theatrical release at a price of $30.
Currently, the average theatrical release window is over four months (132 days). The theatrical release window model has worked for years for everyone in the movie business. Current theatrical windows protect the exclusivity of new films showing in state-of-the-art theaters bolstered by the latest in digital projection, digital sound, and stadium seating.
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.
Major studios are struggling to replace the revenue lost by the declining value of DVD transactions. Low-cost rentals and subscriptions are undermining higher priced DVD sales and rentals. But the problem of declining revenue in home video will not be solved by importing into the theatrical window a distribution model that cannibalizes theatrical ticket sales.
Make no mistake: History has shown that price points cannot be maintained in the home video window. What sells for $30-a-viewing today could be blown out for $9.99 within a few years. If wiser heads do not prevail, the cannibalization of theatrical revenue in favor of a faulty, premature home video window could lead to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. Some theaters will close. The competition for those screens that remain will become that much more intense, foreclosing all but the most commercial movies from theatrical release. Specialty films whose success depends on platform releases that slowly build in awareness would be severely threatened under this new model. Careers that are built on the risks that can be taken with lower budget films may never have the chance to blossom under this cut-throat new model.
Further, releasing a pristine, digital copy of new movies early to the home will only increase the piracy problem—not solve it.
As leaders in the creative community, we ask for a seat at the table. We want to hear the studios’ plans for how this new distribution model will affect the future of the industry that we love.
And until that happens, we ask that our studio partners do not rashly undermine the current – and successful – system of releasing films in a sequential distribution window that encourages movie lovers to see films in the optimum, and most profitable, exhibition arena: the movie theaters of America.
We encourage our colleagues in the creative community to join with us by calling or emailing NATO at 202-962-0054 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Sincerely,

Michael Bay
Kathryn Bigelow
James Cameron
Guillermo del Toro
Roland Emmerich
Antoine Fuqua
Todd Garner
Lawrence Gordon
Stephen Gyllenhaal
Gale Anne Hurd
Peter Jackson
Karyn Kusama
Jon Landau
Shawn Levy
Michael Mann
Bill Mechanic
Jamie Patricof
Todd Phillips
Brett Ratner
Robert Rodriguez
Adam Shankman
Gore Verbinski
Robert Zemeckis








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Re: NATO, directors, produces push back 20 Apr 2011 15:12 #35796

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Thank you NATO and to all the people standing up against this threat.
Michael Hurley
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Re: NATO, directors, produces push back 21 Apr 2011 00:51 #35802

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Mike thats some set up line
lol
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