From Multiplex to Living Room, in 45 Days or Less

Hollywood studios are planning to move ahead with ‘premium’ video-on-demand, making major movies available to home viewers only weeks after they hit theaters. By
Ben Fritz

Audience members wear 3D glasses to watch a movie at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Corp. movie theater in Chattanooga in January.PHOTO: LUKE SHARRETT/BLOOMBERG

Hollywood studios are preparing to upend decades of tradition by releasing movies at home less than 45 days after they debut on the big screen, according to people with knowledge of their plans, a goal they have pursued unsuccessfully for years.

The studios and theater owners have long been at loggerheads over the issue, which Hollywood executives consider vital to their long-term survival and cinemas consider a threat to theirs. But now, faced with changing consumer habits fueled by proliferating on-demand entertainment options, the two sides are finally discussing a compromise, people with knowledge of the talks said.

The only question that remains for so-called premium video-on-demand is when and on what terms it starts, not whether it does, the people said. By year-end, it is likely films will start to become available on VOD as soon as a few weeks after their theatrical debut for between $30 and $50. Such a move would transform the economic model of the movie business, while blurring the line that has long made film first and foremost an out-of-home, big-screen experience.

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