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latest articles on VOD 23 Apr 2011 20:13 #35819

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Los Angeles Times
Posted on Thu, Apr. 21, 2011 10:15 PM
$30 for a 60-day-old movie? Video-on-demand plan is folly
By PATRICK GOLDSTEIN


Theater owners are fuming.

As of this week, four studios — Sony, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal — are enabling consumers to watch some of the industry’s biggest hits on DirecTV just two months after their release in theaters.

The new service, which was set to start Thursday with Adam Sandler’s ‘”Just Go With It,” would charge $30 for video on demand (VOD) rentals of films before they become available for sale on DVD or for rent.

“We do not intend to screen movies released under such circumstances,” Gerry Lopez, chief executive of Kansas City-based AMC Entertainment, said when the proposal leaked out.

This kind of nuclear option from exhibitors would be bad news for the studios, which will release such titles as “Hall Pass,” “The Adjustment Bureau” and “Cedar Rapids.”

On Wednesday, almost two dozen Hollywood directors and producers, including James Cameron, Peter Jackson and Gore Verbinski, chimed in to criticize the plan in an open letter released by the National Association of Theatre Owners.

“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 stated.

No one at the participating studios is talking on the record, but privately they say studies have shown that only 3 percent of the theaters’ box-office take comes after the first 60 days of a film’s theatrical run, so the new service wouldn’t significantly cut into any box-office proceeds.

They also argue that an enormous segment of the potential movie audience rarely frequents theaters at all, so having the ability to see a relatively new film in their living room would be a serious drawing card.

But I have one question: When would you ever pay $30 to see an Adam Sandler movie? Or for that matter, a movie from the Farrelly brothers, the Coen brothers or even the Jonas brothers?

As it stands now, you can see a new film in a movie theater for roughly $10. Or you can wait 100 days or so and pay $15 for a DVD or rent the film for $3 or $4. Or wait a little longer, in some cases, to order it from Netflix.

But $30? C’mon. I think I speak for many moviegoers when I say that if you told me I could watch an Adam Sandler movie two months before it was released in theaters, I still wouldn’t pay $30.

Faced with economic woes, most moviegoers have been spending less on movies, not more. Yet the studios seem to be trying to establish a pricey new rental model, since this premium service will still be a rental operation, with the right to see the movie expiring after three days.

Insiders say the $30 price tag is a starting point, one no doubt fixed by studio lawyers who probably stared at their shrinking DVD balance sheets and said, “OMG! What if there were really a bunch of crazy people who would pay $30 for a three-day window to see ‘Hall Pass’?”

But the price tag raises the question — just who do the studios expect to pay that kind of money to see a film that will be available 40 days later for $3.99?


Fandango.com
Poll: Will You Pay $30 for Premium VOD?
By: Erik Davis on April 21, 2011 at 11:15AM Comments (7)


The other day DirecTV finally made it official by announcing their Premium VOD service, which will launch today with the Adam Sandler film Just Go With It. The idea of the service is that it offers films only 60 days after their initial release instead of the usual 120. So, you potentially have the chance to watch a major wide release while it’s still in theaters, however you’ll need to pay a higher price to do so.
To start out with they’re charging $29.99 per movie, and for that price you get the film for 48 hours. The service will launch one movie at a time, beginning with Just Go with It, and then moving on to other films like The Adjustment Bureau, Cedar Rapids and Hall Pass. Naturally, theaters are upset about this because they see this service cutting into their exclusivity window, and some big filmmakers are upset because they see this potentially taking away from the movie theater experience, not to mention it being an easier way for people to pirate movies well in advance of them arriving on DVD or Blu-ray.
I’ve noted previously that, as a consumer, I’m all for having choices when it comes to how we watch our content, but I don’t want to see movie theaters closing. There is still nothing quite like watching a movie on the big screen, and while I’d love to see theaters get a little more creative when it comes to appealing to the general moviegoer (see: The Alamo Drafthouse), I am not for any program that could eventually lead to theaters closing down. That’s not a good thing for movies, and all it’ll do is make your life more difficult when your local theater is forced to shut down because it’s losing profits.
What do you think? Will you spring for the extra money to watch a movie at home 60 days before it hits DVD?



www.fandango.com/movieblog/poll-will-you...mium-vod-663317.html


Cleveland Examiner
Premium VOD Could Split Movie Business
April 20th, 2011 3:34 pm ET
George Thomas
Examiner


Are four Hollywood studios playing with fire and biting the hand that feeds them in the process?

That very well may be the case. Those studios – Disney, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros – elected to partner with DirecTV for a premium video-on-demand service that debuted today on the video provider.

This sent shivers down the spine of the National Association of Theater Owners that elicited howls of protests, primarily because certain films would have their theatrical runs cut short when arriving on DirecTV at a price of $30 for a showing. According to the New York Times, the first movie will be the Adam Sandler comedy, Just Go With It, a movie that’s grossed $200 million worldwide.

‘’NATO has repeatedly, publicly and privately, raised concerns and questions about the wisdom of shortening the theatrical release window to address the studios’ difficulties in the home market,’’ the group said in a news release at CinemaCon last month. ‘’ We have pointed out the strength of theatrical exhibition—revenues have grown in four of the last five years—and that early-to-the-home VOD will import the problems of the home entertainment market into the theatrical market without fixing those problems.’’

NATO has strong allies in directors such as James Cameron, Peter Jackson and Gore Verbinski, who called for a halt to the service.

What is Hollywood – specifically these studios – thinking? Control and profit.

In a digital universe where it’s easy to pirate a film, they want to make sure they wring every cent out of a property. They are entitled to that, but they look to slay the golden calf in the process.

In my 14 years of writing about movies and the business of movies, I’ve never once heard a studio executive murmer the truth about piracy. They will station rent-a-cops in theaters with infrared viewers to search for individuals videoing movies, but they can’t admit that pirating normally comes from within – be it an individual who works for a studio or a company that tranfers a movie to its digital medium.

Of course, they also have to be looking to their balance sheets and see that DVD revenue that isn’t being offset by the high definition blu-ray disc format has declined precipitously as the country transitions to streaming.
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The last problem is more fundamental: Hollywood’s movies of late have just plain sucked. Having spent several years not reviewing or writing about movies, one thing struck me. When watching an ad for a movie, very few of them actually piqued my curiosity.

Sure, those must-see, watercooler movies showed up occasionally, even then my movie-going habit shrunk, eventually falling to 15-20 per year and I still considered myself a movie fan.

Sadly, that’s the quandary many moviegoers find themselves in now. That’s the reason that box office revenue and attendance are down. Hollywood has a problem that they created and rather than deal with it, they put their fingers in their ears and ignore it. That’s not good business.

In the process, they could ultimately contribute to the demise of one of the last truly communal events that remain in American culture – watching a movie in a theater.

I remember the audience reaction at the end of Star Wars. I remember screaming along with a sold-out crowd for Rocky Balboa to knock the snot out of Apollo Creed in Rocky. And I can still hear the sniffles, and see the tears rolling down the faces of those people with whom I watched Malcolm X and Schindler’s List.

Right now, the deal with DirecTV can rightfully be called an experiment. I can’t think of too many people older than $25 who would willingly surrender $30 for Just Go For It while sober. And if you poke around the New York Times and read some of the comments, many agree.

‘’I wouldn't pay $11 to see Just Go With It, Cedar Rapids or The Adjustment Bureau at the theater, but I’ll pay nearly three times that to watch the movie at home?,’’ wrote Bob from Toledo, Ohio on the Times website. ‘’No. Unless you're inviting the whole neighborhood, this isn't much of a deal. I'm in no hurry to see these movies. I'll wait until I can get the DVD through Netflix and watch all three (plus lots of Instant Viewing) for a lot less than $29.99. I'd say the multiplex owners have nothing to worry about. This has ‘major fail’ written all over it.’’

Movie fans should hope that Bob is right.

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Premium VOD Could Split Movie Business - Cleveland Movie | Examiner.com www.examiner.com/movie-in-cleveland/prem...siness#ixzz1KI1NhsnR


The Wrap
Harvey Weinstein: 'We Have to Build a Model That's Beyond Oscar'
Published: April 22, 2011 @ 7:38 am
By Dylan Stableford


The independent film business had a rebound year in 2010 -- with "The King's Speech," "Black Swan" and "True Grit" garnering plenty of awards season hardware.

But Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman and chief executive of the Weinstein Company, told attendees of TheGrill@Tribeca, TheWrap's inaugural conference on independent filmmaking, that the independent film business needs to transcend the trophy case.

"We have to build a model that's beyond Oscar," Weinstein said at a session moderated by TheWrap editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman. “People say, ‘Harvey only wants an Oscar.’ Harvey wants an Oscar because it makes people go to the movies.” (Photographs by Susan May Tell)

The Oscar-winning “King’s Speech,” which has grossed over $400 million at the box office, was produced for $14 million, Weinstein said.

But the indie business, he said, needs to find success outside of the awards season.

“We have to find a summer model for the independent film business,” Weinstein said. “How do get them to the theater in the summer?”

Weinstein said his strategy in releasing the upcoming “Submarine” and “Our Idiot Brother” during the warmer months is to “counterprogram the ‘Thors’ and ‘Captain Americas.’”

“There is a marketplace -- dying for it -- but it needs to be the right movie.”

While "True Grit" was made for $40 million -- above Weinstein’s $20 million threshold for "independent" -- he lauded Paramount for treating it like one. “They took an independent movie, added the studio on top of it, and blew it out,” Weinstein said, adding: “The Coen Brothers -- you can't get a more independent thought than that.”

Weinstein pointed out that “Scary Movie” was made for $14 million, generated $160 million domestically and, eventually, $300 million worldwide, despite critics who said "a black movie will never work overseas.” (The Wayans, he said, told him, “The wrong brothers made the money on that one.”)

Weinstein said he is undecided on the future of the industry's current hot topic: studios pursuing premium video-on-demand. “Let’s experiment and see,” he said.

“I love going to the movies,” Weinstein added. “If it hurts exhibition, that’s a mistake.”

With the success of “The King’s Speech,” The Weinstein Company is on pace to outpace Miramax earnings, he said. “This is going to be our best year financially,” Weinstein said. “We will outgross the Miramax years by a lot.”

Earlier Friday, Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, and Geoff Gilmore, TFF's chief creative officer also talked about the challenges in the indie film business.

“The world for independent film has completely changed, yet the issues remain the same,” Gilmore said. “How do you find visibility for this work? How to find audiences? How can we distribute this? The same questions we were asking 30 years ago.”

Rosenthal -- who admitted her career as a producer has, for the most part, been within the studio system -- said there in hope.

“The work we’ve done here for the last 10 years at the Tribeca Film Festival, I feel very optimistic about the future,” she said. "You look at the Oscars this year. ‘King’s Speech,’ ‘Black Swan,’ ‘True Grit,’ ‘The Fighter’ -- those were pretty much independent films, the way they were put together."

Rosenthal also noted the growing challenge of getting people to go to the movies. “People under 45, they’re platform agnostic -- unless it’s something really special, they don’t care.”

Waxman opened the conference noting importance of independence film, despite these challenges.

“One of the most precious assets American culture has,” Waxman said. “It’s never been easy to make independent films. It’s no secret that the business model for making these films has been extremely challenged over the past five years. That’s what this conference is for.”
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Re: latest articles on VOD 23 Apr 2011 20:15 #35820

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Fandango poll on VOD before it hits DVD?
Thank you for voting!
Yes, I would pay the extra money to see it earlier 3.16%

Nah, I’d rather save money and wait for DVD 82.21%

Depends on the films they have available 9.68%

Other (discuss in comments) 4.94%

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Re: latest articles on VOD 23 Apr 2011 22:50 #35821

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Some random thoughts on VOD (in no particular order):

1.) I can remember back to a discussion I had with several studio executives at Showeast back when it was still in Atlantic City (I am showing my age here). It was in the late 1980's and we were discussing the fact that discount cinemas were taking off with chains like Super Saver Cinemas building brand new plexes for discount. The studios were outraged. I had one executive tell me (with a straight face) that by operating a discount theatre I was "taking bread from his mouth". The PERCEPTION (and the movie business is all about perception) was that discount theatres were causing loss of revenue and the studio perception was that if the discounts went away that business would all go to the first runs at the higher prices. [No one would even listen to my argument that I was giving them revenues that they otherwise would not have had.]

THE POINT OF ALL THIS: The current PERCEPTION of the studios is that a movie is basically finished in the theatres after 30 days and they need to move it to video on Day 31. No matter what we theatre people do or say YOU ARE NOT GOING TO CHANGE THAT PERCEPTION and VOD is here to stay. I predict it will be $9.99 after 30 days within the next two years (if not sooner).

2) I dont understand Goldstein's critizism of the studios VOD price points. Heck the theatres have been doing the same sort of premium pricing for sometime now - whether you call it a 'Fork & Spoon' or a "Premium Experience" with leather chairs and valet parking it is the same concept of catering to the high end market. [Everybody today wants the bigger dollars - a concept I have never understood since the essence of the movie business has alwys been cheap entertainment.]

3) Where VOD makes sense is for a family. If you have a set of parents with two teenage kids then to go to the cinema in my area is $38.00 (4 x $9.50) for a first run regular priced showing(meaning no 3D or IMAX premium). And that is before you add in the cost of a 30 mile commute with $5.00 a gallon gas. If gas stays at or above $4.00 for an extended period of time it simply makes the VOD that much more competitive.

4) I cant help but be a bit suspicious of the timing of this VOD push. In about two years when it really kicks in that is when supposedly there will be no more 35mm prints. I am sure it has crossed the distributors minds that the VOD might just be the answer for those areas whose small cinemas cannot afford the conversion to digital cinema.
Last Edit: 24 Apr 2011 13:25 by muviebuf. Reason: Add Paragraph
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Re: latest articles on VOD 28 Apr 2011 01:17 #35850

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Google Signs Major Studios for Video-On-Demand Service?
By Edgar Roth
I

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Hollywood website The Wrap is reporting that Google's YouTube has agreed to deals with major Hollywood studios to launch a mainstream video-on-demand service.

YouTube will imminently launch a movie-on-demand service charging users to stream mainstream Hollywood movies off the world's largest video sharing site, TheWrap has learned.

According to The Wrap this new service could launch as early as this week. A video-on-demand service adds more competition to Apple and Netflix in the home entertainment market.

The report notes that Sony, Warner Brothers and Universal Studios have given the green light to Google, along with a number of independent studios.

Major studios including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Brothers and Universal have licensed their movies for the new service, as have numerous independent studios, including Lionsgate and the library-rich Kino Lorber, according to movie executives with knowledge of the deals in place.

YouTube has been laboring to bring all the major Hollywood studios on board before announcing it, according to one executive involved in the deal. But so far Paramount, Fox and Disney have declined to join.

Paramount, Fox and Disney have reportedly declined in the deal at this point. It is worth noting that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is the largest majority shareholder of Disney.

YouTube has rented movies for about a year now but mostly independent films, with a very limited number of mainstream movies. The new service would most likely use Google Checkout for all purchases.
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Re: latest articles on VOD 28 Apr 2011 19:13 #35863

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Comcast in Talks to Offer On-Demand Movies 6 to 8 Weeks After Theaters

By Alex Sherman - Apr 26, 2011 1:02 PM PT

Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), the largest U.S. cable-television company, is in talks with Hollywood movie studios to show some films on demand six to eight weeks after their theatrical release, a Comcast executive said.

Comcast would like to offer on-demand rentals for Hollywood studio films more quickly than the typical 90 to 120 days after cinematic release, Marcien Jenckes, Comcast’s senior vice president and general manager of video services, said in an interview. The Philadelphia-based company hasn’t decided when to introduce such a service and wants to make sure studios are comfortable with the shorter window, he said.

Comcast’s premium movie service would follow a similar move by DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite-TV operator. DirecTV (DTV), which is gaining ground on Comcast in pay-TV subscribers, last week started offering some films for $29.99 after 60 days.

The faster release of movies for home viewing may spark conflict in the industry because movie theaters would have exclusive rights to films for shorter periods. Theater companies including Cinemark Holdings Inc. (CNK) and Regency Theaters have threatened to boycott films slated for on-demand viewing fewer than 90 days, or about 12 weeks, after their theatrical release.

Comcast hasn’t decided how much to charge for premium video-on-demand and may experiment with a variety of prices, depending on particular films and regions of the country, Jenckes said.

DirecTV, based in El Segundo, California, has no immediate plans to shorten the time frame to less than 60 days, said Executive Vice President Derek Chang in an interview last week.

Jenckes said Comcast already offers selected independent films for at-home viewing on the same day of their theatrical release. Independent films receive more than 200,000 views on demand by Comcast customers each month, according to the company.

Comcast rose 30 cents to $25.59 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have gained 16 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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