James Cameron, Peter Jackson, more protest video-on-demand in open letter | EW.com

Movies | Inside Movies

James Cameron, Peter Jackson, more protest video-on-demand in open letter

Some of Hollywood’s biggest names have gathered to protest studios’ agreement with DirecTV to release films as soon as eight weeks after a their theatrical releases. (The current release window stands at four months.) On Wednesday, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) released an open letter criticizing studios for agreeing to offer video-on-demand while movies are still in theaters, a move they feel could hurt “the financial model of our film industry,” according to the letter. Some of the famous names who have signed the letter? Michael Bay, Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson, Todd Phillips, Brett Ratner, Robert Rodriguez, and more. “Major
 studios
 are
 struggling
 to
 replace 
the 
revenue 
lost 
by 
the
 declining
 value 
of 
DVD
 transactions,” the letter reads. “
Low‐cost
 rentals
 and
 subscriptions 
are 
undermining
 higher
 priced
 DVD
 sales
 and
 rentals.
 But
 the
 problem 
of
 declining
 revenue
 in
 home 
video
 will 
not 
be
 solved 
by 
importing
 into 
the 
theatrical
 window 
a
 distribution 
model
 that
 cannibalizes 
theatrical 
ticket 
sales.

” (The studios who have agreed to the VOD policy: Sony, Universal, Fox Searchlight, and Universal.)

The letter also threatens that the move – which could offer the films VOD for just $30 – could lead to the loss of “hundreds of millions of dollars” in revenue, and the closing of several theaters.

“The
 competition
 for
 those 
screens 
that 
remain 
will
 become 
that
 much 
more 
intense, 
foreclosing 
all
 but 
the
 most
 commercial
 movies 
from
 theatrical
 release,” says the letter. “
Specialty 
films
 whose 
success
 depends 
on 
platform 
releases
 that
 slowly
 build
 in 
awareness
 would
 be
 severely 
threatened
 under 
this
 new
 model.
 Careers
 that
 are
 built 
on 
the
 risks 
that 
can
 be 
taken 
with
 lower 
budget
 films
 may
 never 
have
 the
 chance
 to
 blossom 
under
 this 
cut‐throat
 new
 model.
” As a result, NATO is asking to be included in these talks, to weigh in on how VOD could change the industry.

DirecTV issued the following statement to EW in response to the letter: “We believe Home Premiere, through its new, early window will give more people a chance to enjoy the movies, and an additional promotional bump (in between windows) that will benefit theaters. Overall, it’s a positive for the entire industry and movie fans.” Sony and Fox Searchlight have not immediately responded to EW’s request for comment. Universal and Warner Bros. are not commenting on the letter.

More from Our Partners