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Jeffrey Katzenberg Predicts 3-Week Theatrical Window in Future

DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg thinks the windowing model of feature films will become a “pay by the inch you watch.” During the Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Corporate World panel at the Milken Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Katzenberg explained what he thinks is the future of scheduling and distributing feature films.

“I think the model will change and you won’t pay for the window of availability. A movie will come out and you will have 17 days, that’s exactly three weekends, which is 95% of the revenue for 98% of movies. On the 18th day, these movies will be available everywhere ubiquitously and you will pay for the size. A movie screen will be $15. A 75” TV will be $4.00. A smartphone will be $1.99. That enterprise that will exist throughout the world, when that happens, and it will happen, it will reinvent the enterprise of movies,” he told the crowd.

And according to Katzenberg, this scenario will play out 10 years from now.

In the meantime, DreamWorks Animation is hedging its bets and diversifying its interests.

“Movies are not a growth business,” Katzenberg said — which is why he aggressively lobbied for DreamWorks’ new interests, primarily shortform, digital and television content.

Greg Maffei, president and CEO of Liberty Media Corp., a major distributor of programming including Discovery Channel, QVC, Encore and STARZ, agreed with Katzenberg, first noting that Liberty tried three times and failed three times to launch a movie division.

“Few networks are impacted (by technology) more than the media business,” he said, adding that the amount of “clutter” in the entertainment universe, including videogames and social media, directly affects and reduces the value of the more traditional channels, e.g., film.

Katzenberg also threw out the idea that young adults today should not follow passion but skill.

“Great leaders and thinkers talk to kids today and say ‘follow your dream.’ I’m not sure that’s a great idea. How about follow your skill? That thing you are really good at, that may become your passion,” he said.

The DreamWorks chief then documented how, in 1984, Michael Eisner pulled Katzenberg into his office on his first day at Disney. Just before Katzenberg was walking out, Eisner called him over to a window and asked if he knew what they did in the building across the way.

“That’s where they make the animated movies, and it’s your problem,” Eisner said to Kazenberg. “My problem became my passion,” Katzenberg said.

Barry Sternlicht, the chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, and Tom Wyatt, CEO of Knowledge Universe U.S., were also on the panel.

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