Studios Push Early VOD for Major Films

Aug 30 update-adds link to NY Post article about studio pricing dispute with Apple
By Robert Marich
   Aug. 25, 2017-Hollywood movie distributors are pushing hard for cinema premiere with an attendant video-on-demand for major movies. Of course, low-budget indie films follow that model, but the cinema exposure is typically perfunctory. Major films maintain a big gap to VOD so far.
  For the major films, what’s under discussion is a paired VOD at a pricey $30 some 30-45 days after cinema premiere—VOD and DVD release typically is 70-90 days or more, according to trade newspaper
 Hollywood Reporter journalist Pamela McClintock, “There have been suggestions of making a movie available for $50 after 17 days — but the more modest $30 price point could help to soothe the frayed nerves of theater owners, as well as lure more consumers to hit the ‘buy’ button. Insiders say Comcast, Apple and Amazon are actively developing the delivery system for PVOD titles, including figuring out antipiracy measures.”
   Of the six major studios, all have interest except Walt Disney, whose event Star Wars and family films do brisk business in theaters and is said to be sticking with current windowing. But parent companies of some studios have businesses that would benefit from fast-VOD. Universal’s parent is Comcast, the largest cable TV system operator with integrated VOD. Warner Bros.' parent is being sold to AT&T, which owns satellite TV platform DirecTV with a big on-demand business.
   Bloomberg News journalist Anousha Sakoui writes that studio deals with VOD companies “would give the studios a way to issue an ultimatum to the theater chains: Agree to a deal, or we’ll start selling the movie downloads anyway. The movie houses could fight back by boycotting films slated for sale via download days after their theatrical debut.”
      The CEO of AMC Entertainment, the second-largest U.S. cinema chain, asserts nothing will happen this year, with Adam Aron adding that “there is no industry consensus,” according to Deadline journalist David Lieberman.
   That’s a curious assessment because anti-trust regulations prohibit collusion. “If this (PVOD) does happen, in the anti-trust sphere it’s called conscious parallelism, meaning that they can’t go into a room and agree to it,” entertainment attorney Ken Ziffren said at an industry forum and quoted by Deadline journalist Anthony D’Alessandro. “They’ll go out and do it, and the other guy will say ‘That’s interesting’,:
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