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Hollywood Studios Considering Early Home Releases for New Films

Rick Van Weelden
Rick Van Weelden

Almost exactly a year ago, tech entrepreneur Sean Parker (better known as the guy who correctly identified a billion dollars as cooler than a million dollars in The Social Network) fronted a proposed business venture called The Screening Room, a potentially game-changing set-top box through which Hollywood studios would offer their biggest new releases to stream at home the same day they premiered in brick-and-mortar theaters. (With an astronomical price tag, naturally.) Though it gained some traction and support from significant voices in the film community, it ultimately sputtered and spun out. But with the rebirth of spring, so comes a rebirth for this cineplex-annihilating paradigm shift. (Kinda.)

Variety ran a report last night about a new iteration of the early home-streaming program, one that eases back on the dramatic transition in exhibition practices. “Six of the seven” biggest studios in the American film industry have begun to consider offering their big tentpole pictures for early rental mere weeks after the theatrical release. Warner Bros. has reportedly floated a 17-day delay before offering home streaming rental of the next big DC movie at $50 a pop. Fox has suggested a softer take on the concept, proposing a 30 to 45-day delay with a more reasonable cost of $30 per rental. Universal, cited in the article as the most aggressive of the current negotiators, intends on keeping the so-called “theatrical window” in the 20-day range.

Whether these ideas can actually take off is dependent upon how the multiplex chains that this would potentially hurt respond, but at any rate, movement will be slow. Variety states that these talks have been taking place over the past year, and that no deal is imminent at present, but everyone’s eager to find a way to keep up with Netflix and the explosion of new content available every day online. Today’s moviegoer doesn’t want to wait — they hardly want to go to the movies.

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