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Industry Finance Leaders Talk 90-Day Window and the Future of Film

Three titans of film industry finance predicted the future of film consumption as part of the inaugural Entertainment Finance Forum at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on Tuesday morning. Confab was presented by Winston Baker.

The topic of the keynote conversation was “State of the Industry: The Future of the Big Screen.” James Moore, CEO and managing partner of Vine Alternative Investments, moderated the discussion between Christophe Lambert, CEO of EuropaCorp, and Peter Adee, founder and CEO of 88 Media.

The conversation kicked off the second day of the finance forum, a three-day conference that covered different facets of the entertainment industry including film, television, music and gaming.

Adee said the future of home entertainment in light of the digital revolution is bleak, and predicted that the physical parts of home entertainment will go away slowly. DVDs, he said, are already largely seen as an outdated way to consume entertainment, and yet there are still 2 billion of them produced each year. He argued that consumers’ propensity for tangible goods will keep home entertainment around long after it is considered irrelevant.

“We’re not in the glory days of Disney from the ’80s or ’90s, and we cannot assume that we’re going to make that much money in home entertainment,” Adee said. “But at the same time, people like to own things.”

During another part of the conversation, Adee and Lambert discussed the notion that the long-upheld tradition of a 90-day window between a film’s theatrical release and its distribution on other platforms could be on its way out. Lambert emphasized that since films traditionally make a huge portion of their revenue during the first three weeks, it is important to be cautious about changing the window too quickly.

“The question is the speed of change, and so far we should be very careful about moving too fast,” he said.

Adee agreed that the window will close soon, and that they should be careful about allowing it to shrink too much. But at the same time, he said that the closing window should be seen as an opportunity to capitalize.

“There’s a great deal of revenue there because entertainment is about being convenient,” he said. “And if you make it more convenient for people to consume their entertainment, they’re going to consume more.”

Perhaps the most central questions facing film financiers is what makes a movie sell. The two had many thought on the idea, including the fact that movies need to be able to sell globally in addition to domestically since box office attendance is going down in the U.S. but up in other parts of the world.

“If you made a big movie, it better be able to sell in Bulgaria, as well as Los Angeles,” Adee said.

Lambert argued that whether a movie will be a box office hit has nothing to do with telling a good story. The Scarlett Johansson action film “Lucy,” for example, which was produced by EuropaCorp, did extremely well at the box office despite telling what Lambert called a baffling story.

“You know after five minutes that Lucy is going to die at the end of the movie,” he said. “No plot. Nothing. It’s just a ride. It’s a 90-minute ride.”

Adee agreed that viewers today expect an experience, but argued that good storytelling is still fundamental. Regardless, the ultimate goal is to create an entertaining product.

“You tell them a good story, and people will watch,” he said. “If you bore them, they’re already bored. So give them something that’s entertaining.”

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