Industry opinion mixed on shortened release windows

COLOGNE — German film industryites have mixed opinions on whether a shortened run-up time for DVD release is a curse or a blessing, with local film funding laws creating a specific obstacle.

On Tuesday reps at the Intl. Film Congress discussed a recent proposal by Constantin CEO Fred Kogel to cut the time between theatrical and DVD release from six months to three.

Event is part of the larger Medienforum NRW confab, which traces the developments and trends of the international media in seminars and roundtables discussions.

Johannes Klingsporn of exhibitors federation VDF denied that a longer period helped theaters generate more revenues. “The theater is the place that creates the awareness for film,” he said, noting that cinematic success also rubbed off on DVD sales.

Smaller productions with shorter screen life would benefit from quicker DVD release “that could still benefit from the PR of the theatrical release,” said producer Ulrike Putz.

Local pics made with public financial support are blocked from ancillary exploitation for six months.

Meanwhile, at the Cologne Conference on TV trends, also held under the Medienforum NRW umbrella, TV execs considered the move to more “serious” programming as reality formats begin to lag in Germany.

In the panel “Good TV — Modern Television and the Responsibility Principle,” Sat 1 topper Roger Schawinski and his predecessor Martin Hoffmann defined poor TV as skeins including “Big Brother” and “Jackass.”

“The advertising industry increasingly avoids formats that don’t take the viewers seriously,” Hoffmann said, citing positive examples like “Super Nanny” on RTL TV and the BBC’s historical drama “Restoration.”

More suggestions came from Mark Young, head of international sales at BBC, who believes that U.K.-type educational formats on cancer, divorce and child-rearing could soon be a major force on German TV.

According to Reinhold Geneikis of shingle Spin TV, servicetainment has already moved on from home makeover shows to those addressing more personal topics like how to save money and find a job.

Given the prevailing climate of economic pessimism in Germany, it was clear why over-the-top formats like “The Apprentice” bombed here, reps said.

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