U hangs tough on vid window

Risking the ire of the homevideo industry, MCA’s Universal Pictures said it will not extend the homevid-only window for “Carlito’s Way” from the average 30 days.

MCA’s decision comes at a time when several studios, including Paramount and Columbia, have implemented a policy of extended windows.

Paramount was first to extend, adding 60 days to the “Indecent Proposal” window. Columbia quickly did the same with “Cliffhanger,” and several indie studios followed suit with 90-day windows.

“We tried a 60-day test and the end results were the same. It’s not a windows issue. It’s a marketing and technology issue,” Jerry Hartman, senior vice president of Universal Pay Television, said at a Tuesday conference sponsored by Kagan Seminars Inc. Universal extended the window to 60 days on “Heart & Souls” and other films.

Voicing his dismay at the conference was Ron Castell, senior vice president, programming, for Blockbuster Entertainment Corp.

“A 60-day window is too short. We are the driving force behind movies and we need protection,” Castell said.

Don’t look for other studios to follow MCA’s lead. Paramount intends to continue with 80-day windows although the studio has argued that signal theft — not muscle-flexing by Blockbuster — forced the studio to change its strategy.

In return for the studios extending the windows, Blockbuster has increased its orders. “It’s a return on investment,” Castell said.

Extending the homevideo windows, the pay-per-view industry says, will slow growth and consumer interest in the business at a time when it should be getting ready to take off.

“We will wait this out and the world will change. In five to 10 years, we will be big players,” said Hugh Panero, president and CEO, Request Television.

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