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Paramount Causes a Stir With Early Home Video Releases of "G.I. Joe" and "The Goods"

Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 3:40 PM

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Cover Art for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra on Blu-rayThe Hollywood Reporter has an article from last week that says that theater owners are very unhappy about plans by Paramount Pictures to release two movies on home video only 88 days after their theatrical release. The normal release window for home video is around 120 days.

Earlier this month, Paramount announced that G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra will be released on DVD and Blu-ray November 3rd, only 88 days after its release in theaters. The same goes for The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, which opened in theaters on August 14th and will be available on DVD and Blu-ray on November 10th.

The reaction from exhibitors has been dramatic.

"Our members are ballistic," National Association of Theatre Owners president John Fithian said.

On average, Fox maintains the tightest theatrical window among major studios. Fox Home Entertainment tags its DVD releases at 122 days -- about four months -- after they open in theaters.

NATO stats show Par with the second-tightest window, at an average 123 days. And its unprecedented scheduling of quick "street dates" for two titles at once has exhibitors worried that a new wave of accelerated DVD releasing will sweep through Hollywood.

Click the Read link below to read the full article.

Whether this is an isolated case, or just yet another shot across the bow by a studio to shrink the release window, it should put movie theaters on notice that they have to work harder than ever to attract audiences. This is a point that we've been making for quite some time, but it mostly falls on deaf ears.

The exclusivity of product is often the only differentiating factor that many theaters have to generate business. If they had to compete with other release options for the movies they show, I think many people would decide to watch the movie in the comfort and convenience of their own home.

While few are willing to admit this, many theaters know it to be true. That's why moves like this by Paramount scare them more than the yearly release of a new Saw movie.

Movie theaters have the distinct advantage (at least for now) of having exclusive access to showing newly released movies. That brings in hundreds or thousands of customers every day, hoping to have a good moviegoing experience.

Theaters need to take that opportunity and do everything they can to deliver a high quality experience. Those that don't deserve to close, even without competition from home video. Those that do will survive, even thrive.

People will always want to enjoy themselves. They pay much more money for a dinner out than they would if they stayed in and cooked it themselves. They pay large amounts of money to attend music concerts, when they could get the CD for $10, even when their seats provide no decent view of the artists on stage, forcing them to watch the projection screens instead.

Think about it. Did the movie theater deliver an excellent moviegoing experience the last time you saw a movie? There are many theaters out there doing a great job, but there are also some that don't seem to care about the very customers that pay their bills.

Losers complain, winners compete.

Hopefully, all theaters will rise to the challenge presented by the ever-shrinking release window. Instead of complaining, they should examine their businesses and figure out how to make them better. They should ask their customers what they want that would make going to the movies more fun and what would encourage them to come more often. Every aspect of the moviegoing experience from the time that someone decides to attend their theater to the time they walk out the door should be excellent. Anything less allows home video and other forms of entertainment to take that business from them the next time that customer wants to do something enjoyable.

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