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March 31, 2006

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Michael Risch

There's one interesting point to add to this, and that's the information value related to a theatrical v. DVD release. Movies released directly to DVD signal lower quality, and thus may lead to lower DVD sales. (See, e.g., any Disney movie sequel sent directly to video).

Thus, the studios must make the edited version simply to let the audience know that there is a high quality (technically, at least, not necessarily plot-wise) movie out there that you will want to get in uncut version on DVD in the near future (which was your point).

Randy Picker

Yes, both as signaling and advertising. I assume, both don't know for sure, that there are many more reviews of theatrical releases than of movies sent directly to DVDs. Both the NYT and WSJ had reviews this morning of BI2. So that creates additional awareness, both directly and as signal, as well.

Keith Demko

Interesting analysis .. PG-13 is the biggest con ever admitted by the MPAA ... It means you can make the most vulgar trash without too much skin and make it available to kids ... ridiculous

The Law Fairy

Maybe, Keith, but it's the parents who need to be more careful -- the only "kids" we'd be talking about would be teens with independent means of getting around. And without PG-13, lots of the movies would be rated PG (like the original Indiana Jones movie) -- giving the "kids" even less reason to avoid the show.

Cory Hojka

Recently, Steven Soderbergh released a film 'Bubble' that was shown in theaters and cable at the same time. In addition, the DVD release followed only a few days later. It seems that at least for low budget indie films that he and Mark Cuban thinks this 'day-and-date' model works better than traditional windowing.

Soderbergh's 'Bubble' Changes the Rules:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5167394

IFC, Comcast starts day-and-date distribution service:
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060301-6294.html

Bruce

"Movies released directly to DVD signal lower quality, and thus may lead to lower DVD sales." That plus the enormous revenue reaped from DVD sales have led to the rueful joke that the theatrical release is now just an ad for the DVD.

That signalling function may be broken, however, by high-definition DVDs (and since everything in this area must be confusing, high-def DVDs are of course not necessarily HD DVDs). We may see a collapsing of the early window for some films, but possibly only for more expensive HD content, or perhaps only copy-never VOD or PPV releases. In cases like BI2, that would allow the studio to make that many more sales before the negative reviews and word-of-mouth gets out, a phenomenon that has already led to the massive push to get as many theater-goers as possible in on opening weekend. Although it would only work if the release would not result in that much cannibalization of the theatrical revenue, which would be the case with your "people are only going to see it once" scenario.

On the flip side, if you have a film that you expect to be a slow burn rather than a massive rush on opening day, you might want to go with early window releases because you want to reach people in towns without arts theaters before the ad buzz fades, or even towns with arts theaters because you think it will only be up on screens for a couple of weeks.

Randy Picker

As the WSJ reported this morning (p. B3), Sharon Stone lost the ice battle over the weekend, indeed, lost big, big, big.

BI2 finished 10th in the weekend box office (Fri, Sat and Sun), taking in only $3.2 million in its opening weekend. Bad numbers, and, I suspect, confirmation that most of us will wait for the DVD.

And the ice battle, of ice pick vs. ice age? Ice Age: The Meltdown, the sequel to the original kid's animated movie, had a stunning $70.5 million opening weekend. That roughly matches the opening weekend for The Incredibles in 2004.

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