NATO clamors for early VOD results

But studios say new platform falls under off-limits homevid category

In the latest clamor surrounding premium video-on-demand, the National Assn. of Theater Owners is urging participating studios — Fox, Universal, Sony and Warner Bros. — to release numbers showing how the initial titles have performed on the new VOD platform.

According to NATO, controversy over the shortened release window has caused major strife between studios and exhibs, and the org questions whether it’s been worth the headache. But studios contend there’s no precedent to provide those figures, as VOD essentially falls under homevid — a category for which they don’t traditionally disclose numbers.

“What’s an experiment without data?” NATO prexy-chief exec John Fithian asked in a Wednesday release. “Every weekend — usually before the weekend is over — the performance of movies at the U.S. box office is reported around the world. Studio executives are working the phones, touting the stellar box office for hit movies and explaining the underperformance of the flops. When it comes to premium VOD — crickets.”

Studios insist the existing premium VOD platform is still in its trial stage and is meant to be additive to the market. None of the participating studios would comment to Variety about the NATO statement.

Pics released so far through DirecTV for $30 just 60 days after bowing in theaters have included Sony’s “Just Go With It,” Fox Searchlight’s “Cedar Rapids” and New Line’s “Hall Pass,” from Warner Bros. Universal’s VOD offering “The Adjustment Bureau” is slated for release this weekend.

Back in theaters, those titles are still performing in a manner consistent with similar non-VOD pics nearing the end of their theatrical life — mostly at second-run engagements.

Last weekend, “Just Go With It” dropped 36% with 66 fewer locations, and “Cedar Rapids,” at 10 fewer playdates, fell 43%. Meanwhile, “Hall Pass,” down 55%, played at nearly half the locations vs. the previous weekend, while U added 14 locations for “The Adjustment Bureau,” which rose by 86%.

Of the four, “Just Go With It” has cumed the most theatrically, with domestic totals at $102.8 million, followed by “The Adjustment Bureau” and “Hall Pass,” which have grossed $61.7 million and $45 million, respectively. “Cedar Rapids” has earned $6.8 million in limited release.

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