Disney now appears to be the sole exception as Variety reports at least five of the major studios are pushing forward with plans for a premium VOD service soon.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Universal Pictures have reportedly been the most aggressive in their efforts to offer titles in the home within weeks of their theatrical premieres, Paramount has already been pursuing the strategy the longest, and now both 20th Century Fox and Sony have begun early talks.
The plan that has gathered the most steam would offer films around seventeen days after their theatrical opening (essentially the Monday following a film’s third weekend of release) to rent for a 48 hour period for $50. Studios would be cut in on a large percentage of the digital revenues.
At present studios are looking to sign up two or three major exhibitors with AMC and Cineplex the most likely to come onboard, while Cinemark is pegged as the least likely to shake up traditional distribution patterns.
Exhibitors are concerned customers might skip the cinema entirely and so want assurances the plan could be renegotiated if evidence suggests it is cannibalizing their business. They also want to cement the current three month home video window for another decade and possibly far beyond that, and more transparency over how studios collect and disburse digital revenues.
On the flipside some major studio executives are pushing for the opposite, namely a simultaneous day and date release of movies like many of the smaller indie distributors currently do now. Others are flexible over the window – namely warming to the idea of when a film stops being widely shown and drops below a certain screen count – then it would be availble for premium VOD.
The hope was a deal would be reached before CinemaCon late March, but currently there’s no pact in sight due to various issues from the ramifications of what such a thing would have on right deals and streaming licensing pacts to potential anti-trust law problems if the studios co-ordinate with each other to try and find an industry-wide solution.