Org enlists support for theatrical experience from Tarantino, Shyamalan, Favreau

The National Assn. of Theater Owners took its fight against premium video-on-demand beyond U.S. borders, with NATO prexy and CEO John Fithian urging industryites at exhib confab ShowCanada to stay wary of shrinking theatrical windows.

“Early VOD releases to the home could damage the movie industry in two significant ways,” Fithian said to the crowd on Wednesday. “Early releases will reduce movie ticket sales, and will exacerbate movie theft by giving pirates an early pristine copy of movies.”

Fithian also called for the participating VOD studios — Fox, Universal, Sony and Warner Bros. — to release VOD sales stats: “How can the industry evaluate the studios’ test if they continue to hide the facts?” Fithian asked.

Sony’s “Just Go With It” was the first title to launch in April via premium VOD 69 days after its theatrical release. The remaining three titles included Warner’s “Hall Pass,” Fox Searchlight’s “Cedar Rapids” and “The Adjustment Bureau,” all about 60 days after theatrical release.

Until now, the premium VOD trial has stayed within the U.S., but as international grosses continue to overshadow domestic, studios undoubtedly will look to extend the VOD biz overseas.

After Canada, NATO plans to move to Europe later this month, then in August to Australia, where Fithian will hold meetings with local exhib execs. “We hope that this early VOD experiment begins and ends in the U.S.,” Fithian said. “But if not, we want exhibitors everywhere to be prepared.”

So far, NATO has earned support from such high-profile filmmakers as James Cameron, Michael Bay, Kathryn Bigelow and Guillermo del Toro. The org announced at the confab it has also enlisted backing for its postition from Christopher Nolan, Jon Favreau, M. Night Shyamalan, Quentin Tarantino and Mark Boal.

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