Reel Blog

The L.A. Times on early premium VOD

The L.A. Times reports on NATO’s efforts to build allies on Wall Street and in Hollywood to preserve the theatrical release window:

The nation’s largest theater chains have been reaching out to investors and analysts on Wall Street, as well as directors, producers and agents, in an effort to build support for preserving so-called theatrical windows — the period of time between when a movie opens in cinemas and when it comes out on DVD or other media.

The outreach is in response to statements by media executives touting plans to offer movies in the home via video on demand at a price of $30 to $60, one to two months after they are released in theaters.

Premium-priced VOD is foreseen as a new revenue source for studios looking to offset declining DVD sales, as well as a boon for cable companies that have been stymied in their efforts to deliver movies into the home earlier in part because of concerns it could cannibalize home video sales.

But theater companies contend that the VOD plans will undercut movie ticket sales, giving consumers less incentive to trek to the theater if they can wait a few extra weeks to watch the movie in the comfort of their home.

“A 30-day window makes absolutely no sense to us whatsoever,” said Gerry Lopez, chief executive of AMC Entertainment, the nation’s second-largest theater operator. “We’re concerned about the grave consequences this could bring.”

CNet’s Greg Sandoval follows up, quoting yours truly:

Theater owners say Hollywood is casting about for ways to defeat piracy, and make up for plummeting DVD sales and rentals. According to Patrick Corcoran, a spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners, the studios’ PVOD plans aren’t going to help solve the problems.

“We understand that the studios have a problem in the home market,” Corcoran said. “It’s down, like, 13 percent when you look at DVD sales and rentals. We understand they need to fix that, and we’re all for them experimenting. What we’re not for is their importing those problems into the theatrical window.”