The rise of locker systems such as Ultraviolet and video on demand services means that the gap between cinema releases and the home should be shortened, according to BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield.
Well known for his outspoken ruminations on the shortening of release date windows, Greenfield has explained in his latest blog post that with VoD and services like Ultraviolet now prevalent in the home, cinemas should no longer have such a long lead time when it comes to movie releases.
In a blog that will no doubt send shivers down the spine of cinema owners, Greenfield noted: "In a rapidly evolving media world, where HDTV penetration now exceeds 70 per cent, the concept of forcing consumers to attend/pay for a movie in a [cinema] for the first three to four months of a film's lifespan feels increasingly archaic."
He goes on to explain that while experiments have shown that shortening the window will push sales, studios need to do more to bring the 'cinema first' model of movie showing into line with current trends.
Put on trial
"Unfortunately, the major Hollywood studios that attempted to 'trial' or 'test' releasing movies earlier have succumbed to the aggressive push back from exhibition chains," explained Greenfield.
"The time has come for every studio to stop trialling and permanently collapse windows as the new Hollywood business model.
"Exhibitors will acquiesce as they simply cannot afford to be without content from Hollywood. It is time for studios to play offense!"
Considering the biggest criticism for VoD services like Netflix and Lovefilm is a lack of new content, Greenfield's words will certainly ring true for those who consume most of their movie content in the home.
Two examples Greenfield gives for movies that would have benefitted with coming to home sooner are The Artist and The Descendants – both of these movies garnered Oscar buzz that just wasn't capitalised on, according to Greenfield.
"While both Artist and Descendants will generate incremental revenues as they are released into the home entertainment channel, we believe studios are simply not maximising the profit potential of a film by maintaining an antiquated sequential release pattern, aka windowing."
He also cites Ultraviolet in the blog as another system that could benefit from shorter release schedules.
Back in March, TechRadar was told that Ultraviolet is something that may well be used by cinema chains in the UK in the future to distribute digital copies of certain movies you go and watch.
There are no concrete plans for this at present, though – much to Greenfield's annoyance.
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