Paramount Works With AMC to Bring Movies to Home Video Faster

Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Traditionally, there’s at least 90 days between the time a movie plays in theaters and it’s available for DVD/Blu-ray/digital purchase. That’s because theater owners get very angry if they feel they’re being competed with as a viewing option.

However, Paramount is trying something different. They’ve reportedly cut a deal with AMC theaters to share revenue in return for playing the film even though it’s planned to go to home video earlier than the usual time period. The first two test movies are small-budget horror films due out in October: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Once either film is playing on fewer than 300 screens (probably after four or five weeks of release), Paramount will start a two-week countdown clock before it can get those films into the secondary market.

That means there is no dead time between the disappearance of the film from theaters and its release to the home viewer. Studios don’t have to launch new and expensive marketing campaigns to remind people of a film that came out many months earlier.

If Paramount is successful at convincing theaters to go along with shorter windows in exchange for a cut of home video revenue, expect other studios to follow and ultimately for that window to continue to shrink.

I think it would be a great idea for customers to be able to buy a movie they liked as they’re leaving the theater, so I hope there’s more experimentation in this area. That way the studio can coast on good feelings, assuming the customer liked the movie, and they can avoid the cost of two different marketing efforts.

The downside for the theater is that it’s a lot cheaper for one person to buy the disc or online access and have all their friends over than buy movie tickets for everyone. They’re not the ones getting the extra money from the home video sales. But it’s already a lot cheaper for people to do that (particularly given the cost of food), so sharing the wealth might benefit both parties. And the smart theaters are already turning themselves into entertainment destinations, instead of just a place to see a movie, anyway.

Update: (8/6/2015) The NY Times reports that these movies will not run at Regal or Cinemark theaters, since both chains rejected a similar deal with the studio. Those chains are #1 and #3 in the US, respectively; AMC is #2. Other, smaller theaters have agreed to the deal.

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