Later this month, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., and Sony plan to launch a premium video-on-demand service that is causing much consternation among theater owners. The service would shorten the theatrical-to-home-entertainment window to two months and allow rental of semi-new releases for around $30. Since I’m silly and naïve, I hoped that theaters would make positive chances that would lure consumers out of their homes and back into auditoriums. Instead, Deadline reports that Regal Cinemas is planning to retaliate by cutting the trailers and posters of these studios just as blockbuster season is upon us. Studios would then be forced to make up the difference by heavily marketing on TV, which is expensive and doesn’t have the benefit of a captive audience.
Hit the jump for more on this intriguing development.
Before you get your hopes up that next time you go to a Regal theater you won’t have to sit through twenty minutes of trailers before getting to the movie you paid for, keep in mind that Disney and Paramount aren’t part of the VOD service (they were concerned about piracy). It’s possible that Regal will just stack the trailer portion with more of Disney and Paramount’s movies or audiences will be treated to more of the insufferable “pre-trailer” advertising so you can learn more about that new TNT show you won’t be watching.
Keep in mind that this is just a threat at this point. Regal isn’t promising to follow through and I’m not sure what happens even if they do. The studios have already invested in the premium VOD service and deals are in place with DirecTV and cable companies. They can’t reverse course now and the whole point of the premium VOD service is the smaller release window. If they push it back to three months, then the service is undercut by Blu-rays and DVDs of the same movie. If studios fight fire with fire and make the release window even smaller, then they threaten to reduce their box office revenue.
While I understand and applaud Regal’s intent to not simply sit back and let studios reduce theater revenues even further, I’m curious to discover what their endgame is in all this.