Facing increased competition from all sorts of entertainment options, movie studios are finally about to start letting their films appear on DVD and in digital formats not too long after their theatrical releases.
Paramount has signed a deal with AMC Theaters and Cineplex to allow two of its upcoming films to be made available for home viewing about two weeks after their theatrical run has dwindled to 300 theaters or less. The two horror movies—Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse—are small releases, but Paramount hopes to enact the new strategy with many more films in the future.
The shrunken release window upsets the long-held standard that theatrical releases not appear on DVD or digital download services for at least 90 days after their debut. Making movies available at home earlier could reduce piracy and help movies maintain their buzz in a world where companies like HBO and Netflix are making television shows with the scope and spectacle to rival films.
Theater owners have long opposed such a change, fearing it would hurt box office sales. But the fact that the two-week countdown starts only when a movie is in 300 theaters or less nationwide means that blockbusters won’t be significantly affected. To encourage participation, Paramount has agreed to share a portion of the revenue from iTunes downloads and video on-demand services with theater owners who agree to the new terms.