Lionsgate Vice Chairman Says Deal With Theaters on Early VOD Is Close

Michael Burns Lionsgate
Eric Charbonneau/REX/Shutterstock

Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns has predicted that major film studios will reach a deal within a year with exhibitors on the launch of a premium video-on-demand window for new theatrical releases.

Burns, speaking at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia Conference Thursday in New York, said that some kind of PVOD offering will be available to consumers “within 12 months” once details such as pricing and the length of time between a film’s theatrical debut and the early home entertainment offering are hammered out.

He also predicted that Disney may opt against participating at all, while Lionsgate will probably wait until the five other majors work out the specific terms and then go along.

“It’s good for us to be a fast follower,” Burns said. “We’re happy to be off to the side.”

The veteran executive, who has been with Lionsgate since 1999 and saw his contract extended last year to 2022, predicted that the current 90-day window between theatrical and home releases will be shortened to 17 days — giving exhibitors three weekends to show movies without competition.

As for the price point, Burns predicted that the suggested $50 would be perceived by consumers as being too expensive. “Fifty dollars is way too much,” he said.

But he added that it would make sense to reach a deal that will give moviegoers an option to going to multiplexes, noting that he had taken his 10-year-old son and and a group of friends to see “Wonder Woman” this summer — and that the excursion had cost more than $200.

Burns’ sentiments echoed those voiced on Sept. 8 by Paramount Pictures chief Jim Gianopulos, who made it clear at an investor conference that major film studios are working hard on finding a compromise with exhibitors on the launch of a premium VOD window for new releases.

“It’s inevitable,” Gianopulos said of premium VOD during his session at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch media conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. “At this point it’s now about what and when.”

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  1. Guy says:

    I have four boys under 10 years old. When one of them gets a new toy they’re all excited to play with it but often times the one with the new toy wants to keep it all to himself and puts a barrier around his play area so the others can’t touch it or play with it. Sometimes when I’m able to reach his heart, I talk him into sharing or at the very least playing for a little while by himself and then eventually sharing with his brothers so that they can all have fun. The problem with that theory has been that after 10 or 15 minutes Of not being able to play with a new toy my other boys move on to other things and have no interest in playing with that toy. Sure they may have an interest later on the day maybe the next week but for that particular time when it was most important to everyone they lost interest. I see a parallel here in stories and theories. If we all share our new toys around the same time we all get to play with them and have lots of fun together and collectively share in the experience. However, if the wait is too long the interest diminishes. Sure, they’ll watch it at some point, sure they’ll play with it at some point but why do we have to gather our toys so close so that we can only play alone, why not share and have fun together? Give it a try let’s see how it works!

  2. Lawrence J Porricelli says:

    It seems studios are in such a rush to grab what they perceive as quick cash, that they don’t realize they are destroying the business model for movies. They show in theatres. First. Word gets out on them. A while later they are available. Studios bemoan the fact that they don’t get a good return in 90 day wait periods. They would, if they made good films and not the imitative garbage they constantly produce.Just as the dvd market dropped, few will pay to see movies at home regardless of pricing, it’s not the movies. But studios have never been smart, just out for the quick buck rather than build the business model with good film. Studios are over,

    • Story says:

      Spot on Lawrence.

    • The Truth says:

      Theatrical exhibition is on its way to niche business status courtesy of technological disruption. Just as more and more people prefer online shopping experiences over bricks-and-mortar stores, more and more people want the convenience and comfort of on demand in-home first-run motion picture experiences. Since streaming distribution avoids all the physical expenses associated with theatrical distribution, eventually the in-home option should be more affordable as economically unjustifiable transitional fees to the theater chains shake out. Those who still want the theatrical exhibition experience will not be denied their choice, but the much larger audience who don’t want to schelp to a theater at an appointed time, pay for parking and overpriced snacks, or wait three months to watch a first-run film at home will prevail. And the movies they’ll be watching will be financed by the studios, who far from being over, are positioned to reap windfalls from a vastly enlarged customer base.

  3. Kim Pedersen says:

    Yup. Theatres are making way too much money for film producers. Let put an end to that.

    And you certainly found the perfect way to stop film producers from making money.

    • Grrrrrrrr says:

      Non-industry dregs drifting-in from the Drudge Report page link think they know better than Hollywood as to what to do. I wish Penske would restrict comments to actual paid subscribers.

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