Movie Studios May Experiment More With Shortening Digital Windows

A big theatrical movie season seems to be upon us -- with new releases from major franchises like “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” This comes after last year’s mostly disastrous summer season, with the exception that big August surprise from “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Studio execs won’t forget that year-to-year dynamic, and continue to think about how to move new movies more quickly to the small screens.

In 1997, there was a 5.7 month lag between theatrical opening of a movie and its home video release. In 2014, that duration, called a window, is now 3.9 months. All that doesn’t seem like much -- certainly a far cry from those looking for same-day theatrical and video-on-demand releases. Still, will these windows get even shorter?

For their part, movie studios continue to “talk out of both sides of their mouths” says Robert Fishman of MoffettNathanson Research, as quoted on Deadline Hollywood. Studios want to please their longtime theater owner and revenue partners, but also need to be alert to changing entertainment consumer demands in a digital world: those consumers who have a voracious appetite for ever-more new quality movies and TV shows.



Meanwhile, the international exhibition of big hit movies has brought in growing revenues. For example, the recent “Furious 7” has received a massive 76% of its box office revenue from international markets ($1.0 billion) — versus “Avengers” 59% foreign share back in 2012 ($895.2 million).

Does higher international revenue share for movies mean studios can take more chances here in the U.S. to experiment with shorter digital exhibition windows?

Probably not right now, anyway.

Yet, movie studios will continue pushing for higher digital revenues that will come via an ever-fresher supply of new films. Why? It’s all about those same entertainment consumers who now pursue “binge” TV viewing.

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