A Hollywood Brawl: How Soon Is Too Soon for Video on Demand?
LOS ANGELES — Perhaps the biggest fight on Hollywood’s horizon involves where and when consumers can watch movies.
Studios want to offer new movies on video-on-demand systems in living rooms about 45 days after the movies arrive in theaters. The response from multiplex theater chains, which currently have an exclusive window of about 120 days to show new films and are concerned about protecting ticket sales: Over our dead bodies.
Meanwhile at the opposite end of the motion picture business — specialty film — experiments with the timing of video-on-demand have been occurring for some time. A smattering of new films, most recently the drama “All Good Things,” are even daring to go to V.O.D. before they open in theaters. Can the lessons learned by the art house sector teach the big boys anything for the coming showdown?
Specialty film, by definition, is a sharply different business from mainstream cinema — the best evidence being the amount of money gambled on individual releases. For that reason and others, the National Association of Theater Owners, for one, does not believe that the art house market’s on-demand experiments offer any parallels to the discussion under way in the industry’s top tier