×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Will Windows Winnow?: Path to Platforms Offer Risk of Pratfalls

More links than ever exist in the distribution chain for movies, but further changes won't come easily

Licensing theatrical movies to TV goes back more than a half century, but it’s suddenly a hotbed of change requiring strategic thinking.

New release windows have been carved out of the traditional sequential distribution chain — such as a pricey $30 premium video-on-demand typically accessible in hotel rooms before general VOD, as well as the later subscription VOD window occupied by Netflix and others.

As a result, movies have added more stops in their first-cycle sales, which complicate business for both sellers and buyers of films.

“Though every country is different, the shortening of each window is the most notable change that has occurred,” says Twentieth Intl. TV prexy Marion Edwards. “Everybody wants to move titles through the pipeline quickly. What we’ve tried to do is have a measured approach in our windows so we don’t have a dramatic change, even if the market is moving more quickly.”

Windows vary by territory, though the vast U.S. market is usually a bellwether. All eyes are focused on major studio films because of their high earning power and strong demand in each window. Independent films that sport less economic clout in the marketplace may skip some windows while also doubling up on others — eliminating the customary exclusivity — in order to cash in on opportunities.

Some pundits call for sweeping away the sequential timeline and replacing it with a simple everywhere-all-at-once approach, which eliminates the exclusivity that results from sequential distribution. While there are advantages, such as making piracy less attractive by not withholding from some windows, and hurrying up collection of what are now-downstream revenues — there are problems with simply blasting movies everywhere without segmentation.

Movies lose the allure of theatrical release. Eliminating an exclusive theatrical run throws Oscar consideration into jeopardy. And an all-windows-at-once setup mimics the beleaguered recorded music industry, which with its revenue steadily contracting globally from 1999 to 2011 hasn’t been a model of prosperity.

For theatrical films, more evolutionary changes can be expected from new buyers popping up and some incumbent buyers selectively bidding for quicker access.

“If you look down the road, it’s pretty clear that post 90 days after a film’s theatrical release, the sky’s the limit,” says JeffLogsdon, a West Coast media industry finance analyst. “Those buyers who are willing to pay studios for quicker, earlier access are going to get it.”

More Biz

  • Alan Horn Bill Tanner

    Alan Horn to Keynote Variety Business Managers Elite Breakfast, Bill Tanner to Be Honored

    Bill Tanner will be recognized with Variety’s 2019 Business Managers Elite Award at the annual Business Managers Elite Breakfast presented by City National Bank, which takes place in Beverly Hills on Nov. 13. Co-chairman and chief creative officer of The Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn will be the keynote speaker in conversation with Variety editor-in-chief, [...]

  • Smoke haze covers the Sydney Harbour

    Australia's Seven West to Merge With Affiliate Prime Media

    Australia’s Seven West Media has agreed a deal to acquire regional broadcast group Prime Media. The move is a further step in the consolidation of Australia’s traditional media industry. The two companies announced on Friday that Seven will make the acquisition entirely through the issue of new shares to the owners of Prime. Both companies [...]

  • Ron Meyer

    Ron Meyer Files $10 Million Suit Over Forged Rothko

    NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer has filed a $10 million suit against two art dealers, claiming they sold him a forged Mark Rothko painting in 2001. Meyer accuses Susan Seidel and Jaime Frankfort of duping him into buying the work. According to the suit, he was told that it would be included in an official [...]

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Harvey Weinstein Seeks to Call Expert on 'Recovered' Memories at Rape Trial

    Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys are seeking to call an expert on “recovered memories” at his trial on rape and sexual assault charges. The defense has filed a motion asking to call Deborah Davis, a psychologist and professor at the University of Nevada at Reno. Davis is a frequent defense witness. She co-authored an article in 2006 [...]

  • Tekashi 6ix9ine Docuseries Coming From Showtime

    Tekashi 6ix9ine Docuseries Coming From Showtime and Rolling Stone

    Showtime Documentary Films today announced a new limited docuseries profiling controversial rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine. Titled “SuperVillain” and inspired by the Rolling Stone feature written by Stephen Witt, the three-part series will trace how a New York City deli clerk named Daniel Hernandez became superstar rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine — who racked up 2.6 billion streams and [...]

  • Fader Label Logo

    Fader Label Signs Two New Acts, Boosts Staff

    The Fader Label, home to Clairo, Matt and Kim and others, announced two new signings today along with three new hires on its staff. Charlie Burg and Zachary Knowles have joined the label’s talent roster, while Carson Oberg has come aboard as general manager, Yasmine Panah as project manager and Josh Hymowitz as label coordinator. They [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content