Simultaneous release a possibility?

posted by Michael Zoldessy on May 17, 2007 at 4:46 am

Sure to be shot down by the theater chains, but regardless very tempting to the studios, Comcast is re-inciting discussion on the idea of simultaneously releasing new films to homes and theaters. They won’t say who but have claimed studios are interested if viewers at home would be willing to pay $30-$50 per showing.

How much would you pay to see a new theatrical release in the comfort of your own home? Comcast is trying to make the “simultaneous release” dream happen, but with prices being proposed in the $30-50 range per screening, the dream looks more like a Hollywood acid trip.

Comcast COO Stephen Burke told attendees at last week’s national cable confab that studios are interested, but that interest must be limited, for he didn’t name names and the studios aren’t talking. It is the first time we’ve heard some quasi-solid pricing details from a major player, however.

The idea behind “simultaneous release” is that technology-in particular, bandwidth to the home-has advanced to the point where day-and-date distribution of new films is not only technically feasible, but desirable.

For more, read Ars Technica.

Comments (12)

scottfavareille on May 17, 2007 at 8:19 am

This was tried back in the early 1980’s when Universal did this with a film musical version of The Pirates of Penzance (which had Linda Ronstadt as one of the leads)—This was a PPV (at a time when PPV was in its infancy). Financially, it did poorly both on PPV and at the theatrical box-office.

DirecTV is doing something right now (in co-operation with IFC) where they are showing films (arthouse fare) at the same time as theaters for $6.99 on PPV. They have shown 2 films thus far (one has Signourney Weaver). This just started this month.

I don’t know if this would succeed at $30-50 (at that price point, the only things that do well are boxing, pro wrestling, and UFC/MMA stuff—Concerts have drawn poorly at these prices)—I suspect that it would harm theatrical more than anything.

floridachalet on May 17, 2007 at 11:23 am

I do not think it would ever work, to many chains to many big boys wouuld shut it down, theaters ALL across the country would shut down, there would be no one wanting to go ‘out'anymore and well the era of theaters would no longer be

Marcel on May 17, 2007 at 12:17 pm

Wow, how lazy is America getting? I can see people leaving work, stopping for their bag of grease and plopping down on the couch for a movie. How many couples have met at Movie Theaters? So much for destiny.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 18, 2007 at 1:55 am

So let me get this right. Anyone with a large enough TV and venue, plus £50 becomes an exhibitor and starts selling as many tickets as he can to friends and family to offset his costs plus the snacks he will surely include as overhead profit.

It is amateur night at the local bar and the industry loses control of their product, safety standards, and the talent’s percentage cut which comes from exhibition.

If this happens it will be PIRATES 1, EXHIBITORS & TALENT 0

So who cares about AMC and Tom Cruise? What about the malls, restaurants and other already marginal legitimate businesses that will close along with the theatres?

Oh, wait! Why not just gauge exhibitors with ridiculous terms and let them be accountable? Oops, that’s called four-walling and it is illegal in most y states.

Any distributor who engages in this is irresponsible and detrimental to the industry. It would be the equivalent of driving licensed safe legitimate business out and replacing them with the local thugs.

They will monitor it for abuse, you say? As efficiently as they control piracy around the world today, I am sure.

floridachalet on May 18, 2007 at 2:10 am

Hey this was a good comment, we will then have Home Police to do a NO KNOCK to check and see if you have others that have not paid to see the movie,, GOOD ONE!
They wiil surely LOSE a lot more then what they do today

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 18, 2007 at 2:34 am

I am moving into a NYC condo with 550 units and a screening room. It is down the street from two multiplexes with 38 screens between them. Once we record the movie, over 1200 residents will be able to see it for a one time $50.00 communal charge.

Excellent idea!

floridachalet on May 18, 2007 at 2:40 am

Wont work, becasue sooner or later they will see how much they are losing (both the stars and the studios)

greg6363 on May 18, 2007 at 4:11 am

No matter how you slice it, the home entertainment market is theatrically driven. Just walk into one of the major video stores (Blockbuster, Movie Gallery, Hollywood Video, etc.) and watch how many people pick up a copy of a movie that has been given a theatrical release as opposed to a movie that was produced directly for a video/DVD release (and don’t count any direct-to-video sequels based on hit movies like American Pie, Dukes of Hazzard, Disney cartoons, etc.). The supply chain window for film distribution cannot and will not be tampered with by the major media giants. Their future cash flows depend on it.

Vito on May 18, 2007 at 4:23 am

Regal and National Amusements have already warned they will not play any films distributed in this manner, with more theatre owners expected to stand together and refuse to show the films.
I also believe that should such a thing happen in any shape or form, the novelty would soon wear off and people would soon miss the movie going experience in a theatre. I think any studio going along with this policy will soon regret it.
Piracy would flurish.
In my 50+ years in this buisness I have seen many threats to our movie theatres. Uncle Miltie, Pay TV, and DVDs,have all threatened the theatres, but we will survive because people need to get out of the house and nothing beats seeing a movie in a theatre.

alex35mm on May 20, 2007 at 3:17 pm

I wonder if this has anything to do with Comcast acquiring Fandango.

From professional experience working in the field and as a customer Comcast really enjoys messing up or just washing out anything they get their hands on. This will not end well.

alex35mm on May 20, 2007 at 3:17 pm

I wonder if this has anything to do with Comcast acquiring Fandango.

From professional experience working in the field and as a customer Comcast really enjoys messing up or just washing out anything they get their hands on. This will not end well.

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