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Friday, August 19, 2005

Changes to release windows = Death threat to theater owners

The NY Times reports on a dust-up between Disney and the National Association of Theater Owners. Earlier this month, Disney chair Bob Iger had suggested to Wall Street analysts that it might be a good idea to release movies simultaneously as DVDs and in theaters. NATO president John Fithian isn't wild about that notion.

Sharon Waxman writes:

    "Simultaneous release would seriously damage the theater industry," Mr. Fithian said in an interview, referring to the prospect as a "death threat to our industry."

    "It would substantially weaken the marketing potential of the theatrical release for the ancillary markets," he added, "and it would devalue Hollywood movies."

    Mr. Fithian said Mr. Iger was drawing the wrong conclusion from a 10-percent drop in box-office revenue this summer, namely that some consumers prefer to watch movies at home.

    Instead, Mr. Fithian said, the slump was a result of the poor quality of this summer's movies, observing that declines of this magnitude did not happen because consumers suddenly decided they preferred DVD's.

    "The reason for short-term peaks and valleys is the product," he said. "There aren't long-term structural things to industry that change in a one-year time span."

Wasn't TV also once regarded as a death threat? And cable? And home video?