Forget concession prices or digital cinema, the most contentious issue between Hollywood studios and theater owners is the window of time between a movie’s theatrical release and when a film becomes available on DVD. The LA Times just reported here that Sony Pictures backed off their plans to unveil This is It before Christmas after the theater chains threatened to pull the Michael Jackson documentary from its screens since it violated the agreed-upon deal that studios would preserve at least three months between a film’s theatrical release and when you can watch it in the comfort of your own home. “We feel that a four-month window is the proper way to do business most of the time,” Sony’s vice-chairman Jeff Blake tells EW.com. “My argument here was this was a limited run and should be treated differently.” The theater chains didn’t agree and rather than risk receiving their full support (This Is It bowed on 6,000 screens across the country) Sony opted to postpone the DVD release til first quarter 2010.
It’s not a new story that theater owners are terrified about preserving their market share from competing technologies. But in a day where you can watch your favorite TV show on Hulu a day after it bows on the network, how would your movie going habits change if you knew a movie that opens in theaters would be available on DVD in a mere 45 days? Would you avoid going to the movies altogether? Or if it’s a movie you really want to see, would the DVD release alter your race to the theater at all?