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Lionsgate Vice Chairman Says Deal With Theaters on Early VOD Is Close

Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns has predicted that major film studios will reach a deal within a year with exhibitors on the launch of a premium video-on-demand window for new theatrical releases.

Burns, speaking at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia Conference Thursday in New York, said that some kind of PVOD offering will be available to consumers “within 12 months” once details such as pricing and the length of time between a film’s theatrical debut and the early home entertainment offering are hammered out.

He also predicted that Disney may opt against participating at all, while Lionsgate will probably wait until the five other majors work out the specific terms and then go along.

“It’s good for us to be a fast follower,” Burns said. “We’re happy to be off to the side.”

The veteran executive, who has been with Lionsgate since 1999 and saw his contract extended last year to 2022, predicted that the current 90-day window between theatrical and home releases will be shortened to 17 days — giving exhibitors three weekends to show movies without competition.

As for the price point, Burns predicted that the suggested $50 would be perceived by consumers as being too expensive. “Fifty dollars is way too much,” he said.

But he added that it would make sense to reach a deal that will give moviegoers an option to going to multiplexes, noting that he had taken his 10-year-old son and and a group of friends to see “Wonder Woman” this summer — and that the excursion had cost more than $200.

Burns’ sentiments echoed those voiced on Sept. 8 by Paramount Pictures chief Jim Gianopulos, who made it clear at an investor conference that major film studios are working hard on finding a compromise with exhibitors on the launch of a premium VOD window for new releases.

“It’s inevitable,” Gianopulos said of premium VOD during his session at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch media conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. “At this point it’s now about what and when.”

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