The fight against piracy means that theatrical runs for movies need to be shortened, something the theater operators won't be happy about, while DVD and Blu-ray prices also need to drop, says Time Warner CEO
These days, studios are not only fighting web pirates, but also digital distribution and theater owners, in a bid to keep physical disc revenue, the mainstay of the home video industry, from falling into further decline. Although the digital distribution business is booming, revenue wise, physical disc revenue still account for a huge chunk of home video revenue, and Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes, speaking to Charlie Rose, wants to ensure disc sales remain healthy.
Tensions has been brewing for a while between studios and theater operators. Theater operators have complained that studios are attempting to shorten the traditional 17-week theatrical release window, while studios argue the need for a smaller window to allow consumers to buy (and rent) the movies they want quicker, and to minimize the effect of piracy. Bewkes predicts that, in the age of digital distribution where timely access is key, release windows will have to be shortened, although he was also clear to point out that action should be only be taken that doesn't "undermine the theater experience".
But theater owners say the unfair revenue split arrangement, in which studios get 90% of opening week revenue (and then with a gradually decreasing spoil of the profits as the weeks go by) means that they're the ones that will lose out if release windows are further shortened.
Bewkes also says there's "bad news" on the disc sales front, as he also predicts that DVD and Blu-ray prices will "have to be cheaper", in order to combat not only piracy, but also the better value proposition being offered by streaming services. Recent research conducted by IHS Screen Digest showed that consumers only pays 51 cents for movies consumed online, compared to $4.72 for disc based titles.