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Movie studios to push for shorter theatrical windows next year

Movie studios and theater chains have been fighting on and off again for years about the window between a movie’s theatrical release and its home video release, and now the battle looks to be picking up again. Warner Bros. and Universal are reportedly gearing up for talks about getting their movies onto digital and physical platforms much sooner, which means going toe-to-toe with theater chains who would prefer the movies stay in theaters longer. Let the battle begin!

Variety reports that the two studios are looking to pick up talks of a shorter theatrical window again after plans for a deal crumbled last year. The deal was that movies would have a shorter run in theaters before going to digital platforms, with chains then getting a cut of the profits for a set amount of time from digital sales/rentals. However, the one holdout, Disney, went ahead and bought 20th Century Fox, taking away a viable studio from the deal, and then WB and Universal also fell out after the former was purchased by AT&T.

Now that AT&T and WB have settled into their new situation, they’re looking to reopen discussions about the theatrical window, which comes as WarnerMedia plans to launch their big streaming app next year, which is meant to house all of their content. Comcast-owned Universal is expected to follow suit, and more studios may do the same if these two studios make some headway. Word is discussions will kick off in 2019. 

A major deal like this almost went through, but we still have to remember theater chains hate this concept of shorter windows. It means audiences will be less likely to see a movie in theaters once they know it will be available online only a month or so later, choosing the comfort of renting in their own homes as opposed to venturing to a theater. Although studios say the move is meant to combat piracy and take advantage of the marketing tied to the theatrical release of a movie, there’s no doubt the rolling-out of studio-owned streaming services is a massive reason for them wanting those movies out of theaters sooner.

While I believe in seeing movies on the big screen I do, in a small way, support the idea of a shorter window. Not only does it seem silly to keep smaller movies in theaters – sometimes only major cities – for so long before hitting video and digital, but it’s also becoming a chore for many to see movies in theaters. The added cost of travel, bringing the family and more is too much for some to handle, sometimes spending triple digits just to see THE GRINCH. Perhaps it’s time for a shorter window, one that gives people more than enough time to see it in theaters who want to, while ensuring others it will be up online sooner rather than later. Folks will still turn out for movies like AVENGERS and STAR WARS and other big offerings because sometimes waiting an extra month for those flicks is just too long a wait for us movie dorks.

 

Source: Variety

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