×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Hustlers Box Office

    Box Office: Why 'Hustlers' Soared While 'The Goldfinch' Flopped

    Though STX’s “Hustlers” and Warner Bros.’ “The Goldfinch” couldn’t be more different in terms of genre or style, the two new releases prove the divergent paths that mid-budget movies can take at the box office. Both films arrived last weekend in an environment that has been increasingly hostile to anything that’s not of the superhero [...]

  • The Irishman

    Martin Scorsese's 'The Irishman' Set for Centerpiece Screening at Rome Festival

    Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” will be among highlights of the upcoming Rome Film Festival, following its European launch as the closing film at the BFI London Film Festival. As with the Oct. 13 London premiere, key cast members of the hotly anticipated Netflix film are expected to attend the screening in Rome, as is Scorsese. [...]

  • 'Cheer Up, Mr. Lee' to be

    Korean Comedy 'Cheer Up, Mr. Lee' to be Remade in French

    Currently on-release South Korean comedy drama, “Cheer Up, Mr. Lee” is to be remade in French. “Mr. Lee” is the story of a mentally-challenged man who learns that he has a sick daughter, and embarks on a voyage of discovery with his new family member. A remake deal was struck between Yong Film, part of [...]

  • The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos

    Korea: 'The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos’ Rules Chuseok Holiday Box Office

    Local films dominated cinemagoing in South Korea over the 4-day Chuseok holiday weekend, traditionally one of the year’s busiest periods. The winner was “The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos.” Opening on Wednesday, the CJ Entertainment release earned $20.2 million from 1.97 million admissions over five days. A film adaptation of CJ E&M’s 2014 hit TV [...]

  • Disco

    New Europe Sells Toronto and San Sebastian Film 'Disco' to Several Territories (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jan Naszewski’s New Europe Film Sales has signed several distribution deals on “Disco,” which had its world premiere in Toronto Film Festival’s Discovery section and makes its European premiere in San Sebastian’s New Directors competition. The film has been picked up by Palace for Australia and New Zealand, Artcam for Czech Republic and Slovakia, Kino [...]

  • "Jade Dynasty" in front at the

    China Box Office: 'Jade Dynasty' in Front Ahead of Mixed Competition

    With “Jade Dynasty” out front, Chinese action and Asian animation films led the way at the China box office over the past weekend, while the few American titles in play have failed to attract many moviegoers. Chinese action fantasy “Jade Dynasty” led the weekend box office in its debut with $38.1 million, figures from consultancy [...]

  • The Painted Bird

    Venice Competition Film 'The Painted Bird' Is Czech Entry in Oscar Race

    Václav Marhoul’s “The Painted Bird,” which world premiered at the Venice Film Festival in the main competition and also played at the Toronto Film Festival in Special Presentations, has been selected as the Czech Republic’s entry for the 92nd Academy Awards in the international feature film category. The pic follows the journey of an unnamed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content