The clash that had to happen, movie cinemas Vs movie studio, has exploded with two major cinema groups, threatening to black ban first run movies after the studios moved to allow online distribution companies access to movies 60 days after coming out of cinema release.Earlier this month Warner agreed to a deal with Facebook whereby Warner’s Digital Distribution division began testing the viability of offering select movies through Warner Bros. Entertainment’s Facebook movie pages.
The Dark Knight, the first trial film, was released in early March and, according to Warner Bros., was so successful that the company decided to introduce five additional movies at the end of the same month: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Yogi Bear, Inception, and Life as We Know It.
Major US cinema chains AMC and Regal this week warned that they would punish the major movie studios for trying to offer movies on demand after 60 days. Both said they would not only refuse to run trailers for any movie available to stream under the $30 per title plan but would decline the movies themselves. The two also maintained a likely unfulfillable hope that the studios would say which movies are 60-day VOD titles to ban them in advance.
Engadget said that the cinema chains believe that the movies are a direct threat to their businesses as they assume that large numbers of viewers would be willing to wait the two months and forego the theatre image and sound quality for the sake of convenience.
Regal CEO Amy Miles said it was “simply not in Regal’s best interest” to be a vehicle for something that would likely hurt its core business.
Pressure exists to come to an agreement soon as the VOD plan may be ready as soon as late April with support from most of the major Hollywood studios.
The retaliation is ironic for the movie studios. They themselves have tried to punish Internet-based services for competing with traditional methods and have repeatedly asked Netflix for roughly a month-long delay or more from the DVD period to arbitrarily protect physical purchases and rentals. Those have had relatively little success as Netflix has led to the bankruptcy of retail-based rental shops like Blockbuster and a larger swing towards Internet streams. Also contributing to this story was the LA Times.