Monday, October 19, 2009

NATO owners decry Paramount's common sense business strategy.

The North Association of Theater Owners are up in arms over Paramount's announcement that it will release GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra and The Goods around three-months after their theatrical releases.

NATO president John Fithian took a less diplomatic tact, saying “Our members are ballistic. We don't know what Paramount is up to, but it's highly objectionable.”

Fair enough, but there are a few things worth noting. First of all, The Goods was an instant flop that hasn't been in theaters since October 1st (GI Joe is currently in about 500 theaters and it will lose many of them this weekend). Second of all, the reason that Paramount is rushing GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra into stores is that the cash-strapped studio desperately needs GI Joe, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (available tomorrow), and Star Trek (due November 27th) to be among the top home releases of the year (Up and The Hangover are going to provide hearty competition). What (I presume) Paramount is thinking is that they have those two major titles out well before Black Friday, so you can soak up the initial 'must buy it now' fanbase. Then, just a few weeks later, you have sold your initial supply, and you can then ramp up your campaign to make the titles (especially the cheaper DVD variants) the must-buy casual gifts of the season. Plus, you get to package the two titles in a kind of discount promotion with the November 27th release of Star Trek (buy two and get $5 back, buy all three and get $10 back). It sounds like common sense to me. And this is not the first time this has been done. Sony released The Legend of Zorro just over three months after its theatrical release. And Lionsgate often has its latest Saw sequel on DVD by late January, in time to catch the gift-card crowds. Acting like Paramount is the first studio ever to fast-track a DVD release just makes NATO look stupid.

Finally, and this means you NATO, if you want to justify studios delaying their DVD releases of their theatrical films, it wouldn't kill you to actually keep those films in theaters long enough for casual moviegoers to actually see them in a theater! Have I seen Jennifer's Body yet? Nope, because the film was already out of theaters by the time I had the time to casually catch a movie. How long did I wait? Oh, until
October 9th, a whopping 22 days after its opening day. Did Wendy and I catch The Taking of Pelham 123 in theaters like she wanted to? Nope, because by the time we had the grandparents around to watch our daughter over July 4th weekend, it was no longer playing at the local megaplex. Yep, by Saturday July 4th (a whopping 23 days after theatrical release) this $23 million+ opener was already out of major theaters. And let's not forget our matinee trip to see Sorority Row. Since both of us had a light work day, we decided to catch the film on the day before its third weekend. We tried to use AMC's free tickets but were (wrongly) told that the film wouldn't accept said passes until two full weeks (it's usually ten days). Well, guess what? The film was removed from the theater the very next day, not even making it fifteen days in national release at a major multiplex.

I know that studios release far too many movies in a given weekend, but you can't have it both ways. Either stop fighting the studios that want to offer simultaneous day-and-date theater and home releases, or keep the movies in your megaplexes long enough for casual moviegoers to actually see them in a theater. If theater owners want to keep theater-going as the prime choice for seeing movies, they have to actually keep those movies in a theater long enough so that the general populace actually has a chance to see them that way. Or you could bring back a vibrant second-run industry... but that would be just silly right?

Scott Mendelson

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails