Over the past several years, there has been a growing discussion in the film community that would allow consumers to see brand new films in the comfort of their own homes shortly after the initial launch. The current timetable typically does not allow studios to release any film on VOD until 90 days after launch. The reasoning behind this push has been a growing desire by many to avoid the distractions that can come with seeing a movie with a large audience and instead enjoying the film on their terms.
However, while this may sound like a dream come true to some, it would be a complete shakeup to the current theater business, which is why the studios have been working diligently with theater chains to make this work. Recently it has been Warner Bros. leading this charge with a proposed model that allows for rentals 17 days after release for $50. But, more studios are considering this option and have brought about many different scenarios.
Variety is reporting that six of the seven major studios are currently discussing deals that would see their newest and biggest films be made available in homes sooner than ever before. Fox, WB, Universal, Sony, Lionsgate, and Paramount are behind this initiative – with Disney still showing the least amount of interest in this model – and have begun discussing how each individual studio would proceed. One of the current models could see pricing come down to $30 for a rental while still allowing this to happen less than 20 days after release.
Luckily for the studios that are in favor of this move, these deals are being formed on a studio by studio and theater by theater basis due to legal reasons. This is not an entirely surprising move to make from a studio perspective as most major films get the majority of their box office returns in the first few weeks. If these models move forward, the studios are also hoping it will reduce marketing budgets on the back end as they won’t have to promote movies as heavily as they are still fresh in mind.
While the ability to watch a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 or Justice League at home only a few weeks after it debuts may sound great to some, it will also mean that fewer people are likely seeing these films in the way the filmmakers desire them to be seen – on the big screen with projectors and sound systems.
This latest report coincides with those previous that studios are continuing to push for it to be a legitimate option. While it is somewhat surprising to see this news given how many films in the past few years have become some of the highest grossing movies of all-time, the dwindling amount of DVD and Blu-Ray sales is surely factoring into this decision. Even if people continue to go to theaters to start, the ability to then rent or even own these movies sooner could increase the likelihood that people buy the films they like. These deals are still being discussed at the moment, but as more become interested in VOD, the more likely it will be that this becomes a reality in the near future.