With Paramount Pictures and AMC Theaters looking to begin experimenting with a much shorter than usual window between theatrical and VOD releases, there's been a surprising groundswell of support for the idea that could be seen as a threat to theatrical releasing as we know it. Up until this moment, there have been no real opponents to have spoken out against this somewhat revolutionary idea. But, as with any attempt at changing the way things are done, a challenger has appeared in the form of the competition. In this case, that competitor is none other than major theater chain Regal Cinemas.
The Hollywood Reporter picked up on some remarks made by Regal's CEO, Amy Miles, who has finally outed herself as a detractor to the fairly recent business model that's set to kick in with Paramount's future theatrical releases of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Scout's Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse. More specifically, Miles summed up the crux of her argument as follows:
...the parameters of the current proposal, both economic and structural, simply do not make sense for us given the potential risks to the long term health of our business. As has been the case historically, we will utilize our screens to exhibit films distributed using a traditional distribution model that respects the existing theatrical window.
It's easy to see why Regal Cinemas would be afraid of a deal that would not only shorten their earning potential from theatrical exhibitions, but also offer them a smaller piece of the money making pie. With ticket prices going up, and audiences failing to turn out as willingly as they used to for a night at the movies, movie theaters are finding it difficult enough to keep people walking through the doors in the current, traditional model. To add a shortened theatrical window, followed by a VOD release that wouldn't offer multiple admission opportunities for the same film, is kind of insulting to the exhibitors if you think about it a certain way.
However, considering Magnolia Pictures and its subsidiaries have been operating on a model that involves a VOD premiere, followed by a limited theatrical run and a physical/streaming copy endgame, this model isn't as new as companies like Regal Cinemas would like to think. While it may not look like a good deal in the beginning, this sort of release platform could be super effective when used for the right films. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Scout's Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse are, respectively, a diminishing franchise and an unknown quantity. Both are perfect testing grounds for this new platform, because if they succeed then they've made veritable money makers out of projects that seemed to have the deck stacked against them.
The downside is that companies like Regal Cinemas aren't keeping in mind is the fact that should a film bomb hard at the box office, this model could make way to said bombs being dumped onto VOD much earlier. With the VOD option being unveiled while a film such as Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is still being talked about, it'll be harder for audiences to forget certain films the studio wants them to see. Audiences who are a little more frugal with their movie money can truly give into curiosity and at only part of the going rate. It may not be as much as they could make putting asses in seats, but Regal's chances with VOD are much better at making money than dropping a dud into theaters and burying it.
With the future of the agreement unsettled, and time running out on the release of either candidate, Regal will have very little time to negotiate with Paramount in order to come up with an agreement amenable to everyone. In the meantime, you can see Paramount's latest theatrical release, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation exploding onto screens as of today.