Hollywood puzzler: Why did Paramount poke theater owners in the nose?
If there's one thing theater exhibitors hate, it's a studio that shaves a few weeks off the window between a film's release in theaters and its arrival in DVD stores. The customary window these days is about 120 days, but Paramount has aroused the ire of exhibitors everywhere with its announcement that "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" would debut in DVD-land on Nov. 3, just 88 days after its initial theatrical release.
National Assn. of Theater Owners chief John Fithian was predictably ticked off. He told the Hollywood Reporter that his membership is "ballistic" about the news, calling Paramount's move "highly objectionable."
Personally I'm delighted to see movies showing up on DVD sooner than ever, as are most consumers. But the conventional wisdom holds that any studio that shaves more time off the DVD window will quickly find its competitors getting better treatment from unhappy movie exhibitors.
So why would Paramount open itself up for such big trouble?
Judging from recent news reports, Paramount owner Sumner Redstone has had something of a cash crunch, so maybe he wanted to get a jump on the DVD revenues from the picture. Still, no one could offer an especially logical explanation.
So I consulted my team of comedy writers, who came up with "The Top 10 Reasons Why Paramount is Releasing 'G.I. Joe' on Nov. 3, Only 88 Days After It Opened in Theaters"
10) They wanted the movie in stores while audiences still remembered all those good reviews.
9) Sumner Redstone said, "Hey, I'm selling most of my theaters anyway, so screw 'em."
8) When it comes to booking celebrities, Nov. 3 is always a slow night on Leno.
7) What are those wimpy exhibitors gonna' do -- not play "Shutter Island"?
6) Sienna Miller wanted the movie in video stores in plenty of time for awards season.
5) Brad Grey's psychic said it was a very auspicious date.
4) Coming out on Nov. 3 means it will be the first real sugar rush after Halloween.
3) The timing was perfect. After all, it's election day in New Jersey.
2) It would be such a letdown if the DVD came out after "Transformers."
1) Sumner said he needs the money now!