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Warner Bros.' Meyer touts release of movies into home before DVD release

Meyer In an otherwise predictable presentation supporting the federal government's plan to combat piracy, Warner Bros. Entertainment Chief Executive Barry Meyer let slip remarks that are likely to further inflame major theater circuits.

Meyer, who was speaking at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington on Wednesday, said Warner Bros. is at the "forefront of modifying the traditional distribution windows."

Translating the corporate-speak into plain English, that means viewers will get a chance to watch movies in their home before they are available through Netflix or Blockbuster.

As Meyer noted, a recent ruling by the Federal Communications Commission clears the way for studios like Warner Brothers to narrow the "window," or period of time, between the release of a movie in theaters and when it's available at  home via TV video on demand.

Currently, movies are available for people to watch at the home three to four months after their theatrical release and when, or soon after, they come out in DVDs. Time Warner cable has even proposed a service that would make movies available to consumers only 30 days after their release in theaters for a "premium" price.

As a result of the FCC ruling, Meyer said, "we are actively pursuing opportunities for an early window release of our films over cable and satellite systems in advance of DVD and Blu-ray."

Such statements, however, aren't likely to sit well with exhibitors. Their trade group, the National Assn. of Theater Owners, recently took out ads in the Hollywood trades cautioning studios about attempts to collapse traditional windows, which they fear would discourage consumers from going to the theater to watch movies and hence weaken ticket sales.

-- Richard Verrier

Comments () | Archives (3)

If a trade organization is lobbying against it, it has to be a good thing for consumers. Make it happen. Cut out the middleman.

It further marginalizes the Movie theaters.
In the long run its going to happen as it keeps making more sense to NOT go
to there since the movie is soon to be available for far less and in a far more
comfortable surrounding. If you have a home theater, there is little reason to
deal with high concession costs, the moms with kids, the cell phones, the
people with marginal hygiene, the inability to get a seat with the "right" view,
the crowded bathrooms, etc.

Since I don't care about the whole 3-d thing, meh.
There is something to be said to going to a GOOD movie where you catch the
energy of your fellow viewers, but so much of the stuff put out is just so-so to

For those people who are the least bit patient, Net-Flix works.
The shorter the window, the less reason there is to go.
For me, I buy used DVD's and stack them till I have time to view.
I have a good idea of what I'm likely to enjoy and I can always loan, trade, sell
them if I want to later down the road, something you can NOT do with a
digital down load just yet.

The fact is that human beings are wired to be in groups, we naturally congregate. The continuing success of cinema is entirely due to the theatrical experience of being part of the audience.

When television first arrived in our homes the popular wisdom was that cinemas would inevitably close. However the conventional thinkers failed to understand basic human nature, the need to congregate. So eighty years later and cinemas continue to prosper.

The danger of the proposed early release of motion pictures to home entertainment platforms is twofold. One, the discouragement of investment in cinemas and Two, film makers creating pictures with the home entertainment screen in mind.


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