Much has been made the past two weekends of the release of two Paramount Studios films, “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” and “Scout’s Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse”, because of a unique experiment attached to the two titles.
The experiment, a bold one for a major studio to try, will see both of these films hit video on-demand just 17 days after the films drop below 300 screens. This is FAR below the normal 90 day window that the studios and the theater owners have always agreed on. So Paramount offered to compensate theaters participating in the experiment by giving them a percentage of the video on-demand revenue for the films during their first 90 days of availability.
Only, well, this experiment and it’s subsidy by Paramount was only good enough for two chains – only AMC and National Amusements agreed to participate. The others – Cinemark, Regal, and the rest – refused to participate in the experiment. They pointed to how the entire project could undermine traditional release windows and cause problems in the long run, well, because REASONS.
So now the experiment has been conducted. Both films were more or less bombs, partially because they were relegated to well under the normal screens for a wide release – generally about 12oo screens as compared to upwards of 2500 screens. So now, AMC and National Amusements will reap the cream off the top for both films when they hit video on-demand when they go less than 300 theaters. Which, thanks mostly to the boycott, is likely to happen about FOUR TO SIX WEEKS EARLIER than they would have normally done.
So didn’t NATO and most of their members who boycotted the experiment just ensure that the release window would shrink in a BIG way by boycotting the film?
In a word, YES.
So in other words, rather than take part in an experiment where they could have had a cut off the top for the first ninety days of the video on-demand release, Regal, Cinemark, and the other chains participating in the well-intentioned boycott actually chose to get nothing, and do so even more quickly than they normally would have?
Again, in a word, YES.
Films normally do not fall below 300 screens until near the end of their run unless they’re a COLOSSAL bomb. Niche films, such as horror films, which both experiment film participants were, do tend to fall off about 20% more quickly than other films, but not with the kind of speed that would be needed to factually shorten the 90 day screen to home video window. If the two titles in question had a full wide release on upwards of 3000 screens and the theater chains worked to keep them on screen for a extra two weeks or so than they normally would have kept them playing, they could have been basically near to or at the normal video on-demand/home video window – 90 days.
If all the theater chains had participated, there’s a good chance both films would have been pushed as far back as early February before the video on-demand window kicked in.
By boycotting the films, these theater chains who were so worried that the experiment would cause untold havoc in the industry have by their own actions now virtually ensured that both films will be available on video on-demand before Christmas. Both films will fall rapidly below the 300 theater threshold, most likely by mid-November, and thus premiere on video on-demand 17 days later, most likely sometime in mid-December.
So, tell me…how does this help strengthen the release windows for the theater chains? Tell me how this even made sense on paper? I’m just a novice film watcher, and it makes absolutely NO SENSE to me. You guys really need to move into the 21st century. To continue to try and protect your turf as if were 1975 isn’t going to work any more. You need to work with the studios, work with the public, and find something that is going to work for EVERYBODY. And making idiotic decisions based on a now long outdated business axiom is not only doomed to failure – often producing the opposite effect than what you desire as it did this time – you also could be dooming the life of theatrical distribution in general. And that would be a terrible thing…for ALL of us…