– . – Theatrical Window Debate Big Topic At ShoWest
Theatrical Window Debate Big Topic At ShoWest
Disney’s recent decision to release new movie Alice in Wonderland on DVD and Blu-ray just three months after it hit cinemas has caused major waves in the industry, and the topic has been a major point of discussion at this year’s ShoWest convention in Las Vegas.
Theatrical exhibitors are concerned that a dangerous precedent has been set, which could undermine ticket sales as audiences wait to own the movie rather than see it in cinemas. In a speech at ShoWest, John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, told members that “a robust, exclusive theatrical window remains vital for the health of cinemas and the movie industry as a whole.”
But Sony’s chairman and chief executive officer Michael Lynton was quick to reassure exhibitors. “Showing films in theatres is what makes a movie a movie,” he told ShoWest attendees in his keynote address. “It’s what makes stars stars. It’s what makes films famous. It’s what makes the public perk up and pay attention.” Lynton did say that the changing viewing habits of audiences was forcing studios to experiment with release patterns for new technology, but that they “do not want to open a new window in a way that closes [the theatrical window].”
Similarly, Fithian told reporters that theatre owners are open to flexibility on DVD releases if it benefits both sides; cinema executives have always wanted big movies to open in slow months at theatres, rather than have studios bunch up big films during holiday seasons. ”You always have the issue of lots of movies coming in the summer, lots of movies coming in the holiday period, and so our members have been talking to distributors about getting movies into late winter, like Alice, trying to get movies into September. Places where we typically don’t have great movies,” Fithian explained.
And by putting blockbusters in theatres in September and shortening the theatrical window, the DVD of the film could be in stores for Christmas which is something Fithian said that theatre owners are open to discussing.