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Iger Lobbies For DVD Sales in Theaters

30 Nov, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner

Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger

Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger has again raised the specter of day-and-date theatrical and DVD releases, this time adding the possibility of selling DVDs in theater lobbies.

"We are spending too much time chasing box office (dollars) and we are waiting too long to enter the next window" Iger told The Wall Street Journal. Iger said he has suggested to a handful of exhibitors a deal where the exhibitor would sell the DVD of a Disney movie playing in the theater — while the audience is still in the afterglow of a big-screen viewing — and cut the theater owner in for a piece of the sale.

"They think we are out of our minds," Iger told the Journal.

Iger is not the first executive to suggest the model. Upstart movie producers Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner, who own the Landmark Theater chain and recently announced they will launch their own DVD label, have pledged 1 percent of DVD sales to exhibitors who show their films on big screens even though they plan to offer them on Cuban's HDNet cable channel, DVD and possibly via Internet download day-and-date. The first film to employ that model will be Bubble, due in January.

Although theater owners protest the plan for fear of losing revenue, Iger said the price of DVDs would be enough to fight any erosion in box office by coming to market sooner.

A Sherman Oaks, Calif. company called Cinemachine had DVD sellthrough kiosks in a few theaters at one time, but the vending machines did not offer the same film that was on the big screens. The company no longer has theater placements for internal reasons, a Cinemachine executive said.

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