Paramount Pictures has announced home entertainment release dates for two films set to test an experimental release strategy that significantly shortens the window between when theatrical movies arrive on digital and VOD. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse arrives Dec. 8, less than six weeks after it opened in theaters, and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension will be available on Dec. 15, approximately seven weeks after its theatrical premiere.
First announced this summer, Paramount’s experimental plan allows the studio to release a film digitally only 17 days after its theater count falls below 300 theaters. Generally, most studios digitally release films 90 days or more after a movie makes its debut, regardless of how long its theatrical run lasts. While most big blockbusters can see decent ticket sales for weeks after a movie opens, smaller films that leave theaters earlier can get stuck in limbo, waiting for a digital release.
“This innovative agreement with exhibitors enables us to make these two films available to home viewers much earlier than usual, following their natural lifecycle in theaters,” Megan Colligan, Paramount Pictures’ president of worldwide distribution and marketing, said in a release. “This flexible distribution model allows us to maximize the revenue potential of these films, satisfy consumer demand through legitimate digital access, while respecting and preserving an exclusive theatrical window.”
Paramount’s initial announcement was met with concern from several major theater chains that the flexible release plan would infringe upon theatrical exclusivity and eat into box office revenues. To make the plan more appealing to distributors, exhibitors who agree to the flexible plan will receive a percentage of Paramount’s digital revenue for the first 90 days. While exhibitors like AMC Theatres, Cineplex Entertainment, National Amusements, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Southern Theatres, and Landmark Cinemas all signed on to distribute Paranormal Activity and Scouts Guide, some of the nation’s biggest theater chains declined, which reduced the theater counts for both films.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension opened in 1,656 theaters, about half as many locations as previous Paranormal Activity films, and has grossed $18.3 million to date. Scouts Guide opened in 1,509 theaters, and has earned a total of $3.7 million.