In the indie world, simultaneous (or near) theatrical/VOD releases have become commonplace, from Magnolia to our sister company IFC Films to Cinetic’s FilmBuff — Magnolia even offers an “Ultra VOD” that allows viewers to see certain titles before they’re in theaters. But how about a Hollywood movie?
Lauren A. E. Schuker at the Wall Street Journal reports on Prima Cinema, a service that will basically offer a high end version of day-and-date VOD for big features. Very high end: “Prima plans to charge customers a one-time fee of about $20,000 for a digital-delivery system and an additional $500 per film.”
The proposed system represents a twist in an ongoing debate over the future of “release windows,” the practice of staggering the distribution of movies through different channels to maximize profits in each. Traditionally, that has meant a movie hits theaters first, followed several months later by DVDs, video-on-demand, subscription-cable channels, and so on.
The windowing system has already come under pressure amid plummeting DVD sales and rising digital piracy. And consumers have grown accustomed to receiving entertainment content more readily than they used to.
The service is aiming for a launch late next year, and even if it works out as planned will be so out of reach for the average moviegoer that it’s hard to imagine it having an significant impact on the business. Still, this speaks to the huge shifts happening to the old model of keeping theatrical release, DVD and VOD windows separate, something that used to be considered the unquestioned way the business works. And we’re one more step closer to never having to leave the house to see movies.