Study Supports The Elimination Of Windowed Movie Releases

from the it's-a-good-thing dept

Although simultaneous releases for DVDs and theaters has been talked about for some time, the movie industry has remained very hesitant to experiment with this model. The movie theater chains, in particular, are the most against the idea, as they fear that a simultaneous release will eat into box office receipts. Of course, as we've pointed out several times, if the theaters don't feel that they can compete with watching a movie at home, then they're probably in trouble either way. A new study lends support to the idea that movie studios stand to benefit by eliminating windowed releases, as it estimates that their revenue would increase by 16% if they made such a move. It's a little difficult to fully believe the numbers, since they're only based on surveys of what movie viewers say they would do, rather than more concrete evidence about what they actually would do. Still, it does support the idea that it's worth experimenting with further. While it may seem counterintuitive, the more you think about it, the idea makes a lot of sense. Not only is it wise to let viewers see movies in the manner they please, the non-theater channels (rentals, the VOD market) also benefit greatly from the initial marketing push -- which isn't repeated when a movie hits the secondary markets. The survey does predict that theaters themselves would see a decline, but this isn't a reason to abandon the idea. In fact, it may take such a scenario for theaters to fully realize that their only hope is in increasing the value of their product by creating a better movie watching experiencing.


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  1.  
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    Dirtboy, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 11:11am

    Impulse buy

    If my mother-in-law is any indication of the general populace...

    Having current movies in the aisle at Walmart would probably lead to more sales since there is less time for word of mouth to kill a bad movie.

    Back to my mother-in-law. She has bought some CRAP movies from Walmart on an impulse buy because she had "heard" about it. I suspect most of her exposure is from the trailers from when it was in the theaters and she never buys one that someone in her family has seen before. A simultaneous release on DVD and in the theaters would probably lead to her buying even more (CRAP) DVD's while getting groceries.

     

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    SunFyre, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 11:37am

    It may increase box office for good movies

    A movie like Little Miss Sunshine may benefit. It was a terrific movie that many people didn't know was terrific until it was already on DVD. A movie like that benefits from word-of-mouth, because it's a difficult idea to convince people to spend $15 on at the theater. But after a few people said it was great, more people might see it at the theater.

    There's lots of movies that I wait to see on DVD, that I would have seen in the theater, or maybe even gone back to see in a theater for that experience.

    I have two other suggestions for the studios. Leave the movies in the theaters longer. Frequently to movies open on the same weekend, and if you only get to the theater about once a month like I do, you have to make a choice. If I knew a movie would be there for six or eight weeks, I'd be more likely to see it.

    Next... make better movies. I'd rather see Hollywood make fewer movies and improve the overall quality, then produce the current mix of about 60% crap, 30% quality, and 10% excellent movies. If I knew I had a better than four in 10 chance of seeing a good movie, I'd probably visit the theater more often. I also wouldn't feel so bad about dropping $15-$20 on an evening out with my wife.

     

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    Jason Cornick, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 12:25pm

    This parent says yes!

    I enjoy watching movies, and I get all excited by movies when they are released. I admit that the promotional campaigns work on me.

    BUT, it is difficult to find a good babysitter for my 2 small children, so I actually only get out to see a movie twice a year - in a good year. By the time the movies are released on DVD my enthusiasm has often waned, and I simply don't buy or even rent them. If they were available for purchase on release day, or even the following Tuesday I'm sure that I would pick it up on the way home from the office.

    They may complain that they lose theater revenue to DVD purchasers, but they likely won't have ANY of my $$$ for their movies anyway.

     

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    SimonTek (profile), Mar 7th, 2007 @ 12:30pm

    Hmm

    I think I would see more movies in theater. I like to see them on DVD, but by the time I get to see it on DVD, I go, man I wish I saw that in theater. Like right now I reallly REALLY want to see Children of Men. Drives me nuts that in Europe I can order it on DVD, and here I can not.

     

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  5.  
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    Dan P, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 12:33pm

    Movie Theaters Should Sell DVDs!

    I think movie theaters should sell DVDs instead of complaining DVDs are taking away their business. There were many times when I came out of a movie wishing I could take home a DVD of that movie right then! Sin City, for example, was such an experience. The Star Wars movies too. If the theaters had them on sale as I was leaving the theater, I would have bought them.

    Having to wait three or more months for the DVD sometimes works against DVD sales. I probably would have bought Kill Bill, Vol. 1 when I left the theater, but by the time the DVD came out, I knew that Kill Bill, vol. 2 would be coming out soon, so I waited. Then after seeing Kill Bill, Vol. 2, I decided to wait for a combined version of the two movies -- and I'm stikll waiting! So they lost a sale there.

    I think we're eventually headed to simultaneous release, especially with independent films, and I can almost guarantee the theaters will not be the ones selling them and will lose out on that revenue stream. Also simultaneous releases will hurt piracy because most people buy bootleg DVDs so they can watch a current movie in their own home and bypass rowdy theaters. The movie studios will save money because they won't have to do two advertising campaigns, the first when the movie is released and the second when the DVD is released.

    So I'm for it.

     

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  6.  
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    JJ, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 12:50pm

    It would hurt movie theater sales

    I think it would really hurt movie theater sales. Sure, some movies will do just as well (special effects and epic movies).

    Other movies like comedies, boring chick dramas... would do extremely bad at the theaters.

    The sales of the movies themselves might do better, but the movie theater sales would drop considerably. It may be in the best interest of the movie producers to give the theatres the window as they can sell both a movie ticket and DVD rather than just a DVD.

    Also, the surveys are flawed to some consideration. If I buy a DVD, my friends and family can watch it at my house. This is 1 sell for 4-6 people. If we went to the theater, there would be 4-6 sells. The difference is considerable.

     

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    Andrew D, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 1:01pm

    Dan's got a point

    There already is simultaneous release. In fact, I've seen movies available for sale on DVD before they were in theater. Of course I refer to bootlegged and pirated movies.

    Now, the quality is absolutely garbage, and I don't see the point in owning any movie anyway, but the business model already exists and, if the number of bootleggers I see around is any indication, it's quite popular.

    Of course $5 for a movie is a lot less than a theater experiene, but why not $15 or $20 for a high quality copy of the movie?

    Yes, theaters will need to do something different or suffer, badly. Too bad for them. Blacksmith's aren't doing so hot these days either, but that's what happens when technology progresses.

    -Andrew

     

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    bobbyb, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 1:36pm

    Pay Per view

    I work for a large hotel and we get Pay-per-view movies in as little as 4 weeks after they open in theatres. My friends and I will go into one of our unoccupied rooms and watch it on the TV. It costs $11-13 for usually 5 people to watch it. It is a much better experience than going to the theatre and paying $10 a piece for a ticket.

     

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    Emilio, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 1:50pm

    In-House

    Dan P's got the right idea. Just create a mini-store in the theater lobby BEHIND THE ROPE, so that only ticket holders have access. Then, only make the simultaneously released DVDs available IN THE THEATERS. Everyone else gets to wait as usual. Essentially, this is just increasing the potential revenue stream for the theaters and the studios, who get to sell a ticket AND a disc... Seems like a no-brainer, but Hollywood can be a weirdly conservative lot, waiting for someone else to innovate, then pig-piling on board.

     

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    Apennismightier, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 2:23pm

    Moviegoing experience is as good as it gets

    How the hell do make a better movie going experience? You're there to watch a movie. They've got the food, and the comfortable seats arranged in stadium seating so no 6'8" guy blocks your view. They only thing left to do is to elminate the other moviegoers or make a mandatory "no sound" rule where no one is allowed to talk, cough, sneeze, etc. Collecting cell phones at the door.

    It's all stupid. The moviegoing experience is as good as it's going to get. Hell, they could make segregated movie rooms if they want to get really stupid so loud "minorities" would stop yelling at the screen when a "biatch" gets "yoked up". What morons. And before you jump on me with the racial BS, it was an example of how ridiculous suggesting improving the moviegoing experience is and how far they could go.

    It's as good as it gets, which is why they are going to lose a ton of money. All you need is a friend to go see the movie and bring back the DVD they sell once it's out. Then copy away and upload on the internet.

     

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    Vincent Clement (profile), Mar 7th, 2007 @ 3:09pm

    Unable to satisfy the consumer

    Movie theatres are in trouble and there will be less of them by the end of the decade. It's partly demographics (more older people versus younger people); It's partly more competition (people have a wider range of entertainment choices today); It's partly the affordability of home entertainment systems.

    You would think that under these circumstances theatres would try all sorts of different things to generate sales, to generate value, to generate repeat business. The only thing they seem capable of doing is raising ticket and concession prices. But hey, when you have the MPAA behind you and the MPAA has politicians in it's pockets, why bother changing to meet the customers needs?

     

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    fuse5k, Mar 8th, 2007 @ 4:46am

    If movies were to come out at the same time in the cinema and through other channels then of course the cinema would lose out.

    Of course it's not them that has the decision to make, its the movie studios. If the studios see that they will make more money the way it currently does things it will continue the way it is now.

    Personally i dont think they do make more money than they could, if it was only one release, then more people would buy DVD, when there is hype around a movie then its a lot easier to pick up a copy or order a copy than it is to schedule a night to go out.

    the cinema is slowly beginning to show its age.
    they were invented so that people who didnt have a tv could watch things. Everyone has a TV now, so the cinema should move into the 21st century and offer us something we cant get elsewhere. and possibly remove a lot of the crap that stops us from going to movies

     

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    Dirtboy, Mar 8th, 2007 @ 8:22am

    2 things

    Opinion:

    1. Cinemas suck because your experience is influenced by strangers around you that you have no control over, and that will never change. Its the same reason I hate MMORPGs. People suck. A "person" is fine.

    2. Studios aren't influenced by nostalgia, they sacrifice at the alter of the almighty dollar. If the bean counters invoke their hoodoo voodoo spreadsheets and decide that there would be more money with a simultaneous release, then that is what they will do, regardless of the protests and "aw shucks" from the theaters. It'll be "too bad, so sad, bye bye cinema, and thanks for all the cash."

     

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