The debate over windowed movie releases -- releasing to theaters on one date, then video on demand later, then DVDs later and so on -- has been going on for some time. Despite the advantages and opportunities simultaneous releases would create, theater owners condemn the idea, basically because they can't provide a movie-going experience that can compete with watching movies on DVD at home. The debate is kicking off in Europe again, where some theater chains in Germany and the UK are refusing to show a major-studio film because it will be released on DVD "just" 13 weeks after it's out in theaters. Theater owners say such a short window will keep people out of their theaters, and they need a long period of exclusivity to ensure they'll sell some tickets -- a pretty clear admission that they're doing such a poor job of giving customers a good experience that they can't compete any other way. The German movie-theater association says that with a release window of less than four months, its members starts losing customers. Their theaters must be pretty awful if they'll drive people to wait up to four months to watch something at home. It's pretty amazing to see these companies basically admit their theaters are so bad, and it also shows a complete and utter misunderstanding of their business. Instead of trying to succeed by being the only place new movies can be seen, why not work to make movie theaters a place people want to see movies?
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