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theatre window vs. who cares? 15 Oct 2009 17:33 #32597

  • Mike
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Do You Ever Skip a Movie in Theaters Because It Will be on DVD Soon Enough?
Those DVD release windows are causing a problem once again...

Yesterday I began working on an article that was going to stress the
importance of seeing certain films in theaters. I got about two paragraphs
in and realized it was either going to be very long or I was going to end up
half-assing it and it would be very short. Neither option worked for me so I
was about ready to ditch it; that's when Carl DiOrio's The Hollywood
Reporter article was published, discussing the upcoming DVD releases of G.I.
Joe: The Rise of the Cobra and The Goods and the 88-day window Paramount has
set between their theatrical debuts and their home video releases. Of
course, this doesn't make theater owners happy and < in my opinion <
shouldn't make you happy either.

The article focuses on the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and
their disapproval of the move, which means both films will be in stores less
than three months after their theatrical release. Based on Box Office Mojo's
numbers from last week G.I. Joe was still in 609 theaters while The Goods is
apparently already out of theaters. G.I. Joe's November 3 release is only
three weeks away, while The Goods is getting a strange "rental only" release
on November 10. Such tight windows frustrate theater owners due to the fact
moviegoers may be more inclined to skip the theatrical experience since they
know they only have to wait three months before they can save some money and
just watch it at home. As much as I disliked G.I. Joe, it isn't exactly a
film you want to see for the first time on a 42" television screen. Even if
you have a bigger screen and the full blown faux-theatrical experience in
your home it won't be able to duplicate the experience of seeing an effects
driven film on the big screen.

Probably one of the things I liked most about seeing my quote on the trailer
for Paranormal Activity was that they used an excerpt from my review where I
said, "This is a film you must see in theaters to get the full effect and
just pray you have a lively crowd." I bring this up because as I watched
Drag Me to Hell on Blu-ray last night the same thought began swimming
through my head as the person I was watching it with turned to me and said,
"That was stupid."

Argh! The frustration! Had we been watching it in a theater on the big
screen Drag Me to Hell would have been ten times more effective. Sure, it's
not a film all about the scares as it has plenty of humor, but for someone
that admitted to me they get scared watching horror movies there are a few
moments that would have certainly done their damage. The theatrical
experience is invaluable for many films.

Sure, some of the more dramatic affairs may be able to have a similar effect
at home, but the one thing you don't have at a theater that you do have at
home is the comfort of a known environment and for this reason even the
unfamiliarity of a theater seat can make even the most innocent of
relationship dramas have a different effect. Your phone can't ring, the dog
doesn't need to go to the bathroom, there's no texting, no Twitter or
Facebook updates, the kids don't need money for pizza and that client
portfolio you were working on will just have to wait for two hours. In the
theater it's just you and the movie, and it has an effect whether you want
to admit it or not.

The above graph comes from the NATO website showing an industry average of 4
months and 11 days between theatrical and home video release dates in 2009.
Of the studios listed with over five 2009 releases so far this year
Universal is at the top with 83.3% (10 out of 12) of their 2009 films being
released over four months after their theatrical release. Fox is at the
bottom with only 38.4% (5 out of 13) of their releases managing that number.
So, while Fox is pushing the limits right now it is Paramount that has
theater owners upset as they hope this recent release issue doesn't cause
others to follow suit.

"I view the studios as our partners, but it seems like the rules of the game
are changing," Cineplex chief Ellis Jacob told The Hollywood Reporter.
"That's a concern. We at Cineplex have invested a lot of money in our
theaters and in new technology such as 3D. So when something like this
happens, it creates an issue with people from the standpoint of
entertainment choices. If a guest of ours knows a movie is going to be on
DVD in less than 90 days, then they know that if they miss it they can catch
it on DVD not too much later."

Jacob's mentioning of 3D is an important reminder of just how hard theaters
are working to make sure audiences continue coming out of their homes and
into the theaters. However, studios aren't helping much with their small
release windows and focused attention on opening weekend box-office, a
factor I believe will sooner or later prove to be the downfall for many
major studios. You can't focus all your attention on week one box-office
because when those times come along when a movie fails to deliver on
expectations you instantly find yourself in a hole and one you may not be
able to dig out of for weeks and sometimes months. If you end up with a
couple of flops in a row you are sucking wind.

However, let's bring this back to you and the question posed in the
headline. Do you ever just think to yourself, "Oh well, I'll just wait until
it's on DVD to see it," knowing full well it's likely to only be a few
months before that's a reality? I would expect many of you will still head
to theaters for films you are really anticipating, something like Avatar,
Star Trek and even Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but what about the
films on the cusp?

What does it take to ensure you will head out to the theater and not just
wait for a title on DVD? If you were looking at six month windows such as
were in place back in 2000 would you be more inclined to head out to the
theater as opposed to waiting?
Michael Hurley
Last Edit: 15 Oct 2009 17:34 by Mike.
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Re:theatre window vs. who cares? 15 Oct 2009 18:12 #32598

  • slapintheface
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dont care---We run when its on demand tv or in video stores....2 weeks ago we ran SUMMER HOURS it was in Blockbuster. We did $4 ,000
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Re:theatre window vs. who cares? 15 Oct 2009 18:46 #32599

  • revrobor
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Put me down in the "Don't care" column. Not everyone buys or rents DVDs. And no matter how fancy the "home theatre" is it can't compare with the theatre experience that most movie-goers prefer (assuming we give them something other than a larger screen to make it a true "theatre experience" for them).
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re:theatre window vs. who cares? 15 Oct 2009 22:18 #32603

  • rufusjack
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Well interesting position for me as I do both theater and video stores.

I do not care either. By the time a movie is 6 weeks old is dead. 8 weeks old dust is collecting on the platter (see Julie & Julia for many of us).

The local discount theater in our area often plays the big movies the weekend after the dvd release and to good numbers I am told.

They should be more outraged by pirated movies!!!!

Paramount & Summit: Both studios have established rental windows for some of their marginal product of late. Imagine That was just released to rental only last week (to rental outlets, of course you can buy these titles on ebay from many who just found them after they fell off the truck). Dance Flick and Brothers Bloom have been two others. Cost from distribution on these have been @$23.50 or so.
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