×

Paramount’s Shorter Movie Windows: Bold Move or a Bad Precedent?

By partnering with AMC and Cineplex to make two low-budget horror films available in the home earlier than they would normally be, Paramount didn’t shatter the traditional release window — but it did find a way to crack it open a bit.

The deal is symbolically significant, even if it is unlikely to radically alter the business, because it represents one of the first times theater owners have agreed to a plan that impinges on their turf.

Under the deal, Paramount can push “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” and “Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” to digital platforms as soon as 17 days after they leave most theaters, instead of the typical 90 days.

Of course, there was a carrot involved to lure exhibitors to the table: By offering the two chains a percentage of digital sales that take place during the standard three months the films would have been in theaters, Paramount gives exhibs a taste of the home entertainment pie.

“This gives them more flexibility,” said James Goss, an analyst with Barrington Research. “Once you get down to a few nearly empty theaters, exhibitors might as well show something else.”

It won’t be a model that works in all cases, Paramount execs stress. More than other genres, horror films tend to make most of their money in the first few weekends. But the partnership does seem to acknowledge the movie business has changed, and that smaller films may not need to linger in theaters.

Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore told Variety that after news of the pact leaked, exhibitors started asking if they could participate. He predicted more chains would embrace the initiative.

Things weren’t always so rosy. At last spring’s CinemaCon, theater owners were enraged that Paramount and MGM hadn’t consulted them before the VOD release of flop “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” just 46 days after its theatrical opening. “We said, ‘In the past, you haven’t seemed that open-minded,’ ” said Moore. “But they said, ‘We’re happy to talk about doing something different and whether the same model works for every movie.’ ”

The proposal lets the studio piggyback a film’s home entertainment debut on the promotional campaign for its theatrical run, potentially saving millions. For theater owners, analysts say there could be more money from profit participation than in tickets or concessions related to a fading movie. “The share they’re giving to exhibitors is equivalent to the amount they’d spend for advertising the video release,” said analyst Tom Adams, who expects other studios to follow Paramount’s lead.

But some in Hollywood fear the experiment sets a bad precedent. One senior exec at a rival studio argued it has the potential to get customers used to skipping theaters in favor of home viewing.

But “Paranormal” series producer Jason Blum sees the compromise as ushering in an era of cooperation. “Studios, producers and theater owners must work together to keep movies relevant in our culture amidst the rise of accessible HD T.V. sets, the ability to consume content on multiple screens and the incredible quality of original broadcast, cable and steaming television shows.broadcast, cable and streaming television shows,” he said.

More Film

  • Ryan Simpkins

    Ryan Simpkins Joins Fox-Disney's 'Fear Street' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ryan Simpkins has joined Fox-Disney’s second installment of 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment’s “Fear Street” trilogy, based on the novels by R.L. Stine. Leigh Janiak is helming all three films. Previously announced cast includes Gillian Jacobs, Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Ashley Zukerman, Fred Hechinger, Julia [...]

  • MPAA Logo

    Motion Picture Association of America Hires Emily Lenzner as Communications Chief

    The Motion Picture Association of America has appointed veteran public relations executive Emily Lenzner as its executive VP of global communications and public affairs. She will report to Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin and oversee the trade group’s communications team in the U.S. and internationally. Lenzner will start Aug. 1 and be based at the MPAA’s [...]

  • 'Cats' Teaser Trailer: See Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift Unveils Feline Moves in 'Cats' Behind-the-Scenes Teaser

    Taylor Swift fans finally get to see some of the results of all those years spent studying her roommates Meredith and Olivia — and also, not incidentally, some time with a choreographer — in a new behind-the-scenes teaser for the movie “Cats.” The three-and-a-half-minute featurette has footage of Swift striking crouching feline moves as well [...]

  • CGR’s Immersive Premium Format Set for

    Immersive Theater Technology Set for US Debut in Los Angeles

    French multiplex company CGR Cinemas has selected the Regal LA Live as the first U.S. theater to use its Immersive Cinema Experience technology. The ICE format will be unveiled in the fall at the downtown location in a partnership between CGR and AEG. The companies made the announcement Wednesday but did not reveal which title [...]

  • Amazon Developing Original Series Based on

    Amazon Studios Buys 'Selah and the Spades,' Will Develop Original Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Studios has acquired worldwide rights to “Selah and the Spades,” a gripping look at a prep school drug dealer, Variety has learned. The film marks the feature debut of writer and director Tayarisha Poe and had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it was a favorite with critics. Amazon has [...]

  • The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con

    The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con Parties and Activations

    Hollywood is heading down the California coast to San Diego because It’s time for 2019 Comic-Con International. The annual cosplay celebration officially kicks off tomorrow, July 18, with a preview happening tonight. Here, Variety gives you a guide to this year’s parties and activations. Make sure to check back for updates. Wednesday, July 17Amazon Prime [...]

  • The Wound African Cinema Berlin Film

    Finance Forum Brings African WIP Into Focus at Durban FilmMart

    The 10th edition of the Durban FilmMart, which unspools parallel to the 40th Durban Intl. Film Festival, will feature 10 fiction and 10 documentary works-in-progress taking part in its annual Finance Forum. The leading co-production market on the continent, the Forum brings together producers, distributors, sales agents, broadcasters, funding bodies, and other industry players from across the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content