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CEO: Regal Cinemas 'Open' to Altered Release Windows That Make Economic Sense

27 Oct, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Regal Entertainment Group CEO Amy Miles

Regal Cinemas, the nation’s largest theater operator, is amenable to altered release windows provided they enhance the fiscal reward for all parties involved, CEO Amy Miles said on the company's Oct. 27 fiscal call.

Regal Cinemas’ non-participation in Paramount Pictures’ controversial release strategy making select titles available for digital distribution 17 days after their theater count drops below 300 contributed to the underwhelming Oct. 23 opening for Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension — the studio’s first test case. The test includes revenue-sharing the film’s digital sales with participating theater groups.

A similar fiscal result is expected Oct. 30 for Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse — Paramount’s second test case — according to Miles.

Addressing a question on the matter in the chain’s fiscal call, Miles said the limited number of theaters participating in the test, coupled with their market coverage, contributed to Ghost Dimension generating about $5,000 in revenue per screen — down 21% from the $6,398 screen average for predecessor Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.

With 43% fewer theatrical screens for Ghost Dimension than The Marked Ones, Miles said it was difficult to “evaluate any meaningful results” from the test.

“We made it clear we didn’t want to participate because we didn’t think the economics of the test made sense,” she said. At the same time, Miles said Regal would be open to any other window experiments that she felt had the potential to grow “the overall [fiscal] pot.”

Indeed, Paramount and Regal worked together in 2013 offering moviegoers for $50 a chance to see Brad Pitt’s World War Z in 3D two days before it opened worldwide. The so-called "mega ticket" included a Digital HD copy before the retail street date; a pair of World War Z custom 3D glasses; a limited-edition movie poster; and a small popcorn.

Regardless, the three-to-four month theatrical window is increasingly viewed as out of step with today’s on-demand entertainment market underscored by ubiquitous access. Netflix, which helped usher in the social phenomena known as binge-viewing episodic programming, has aggressively denounced theatrical windows through CCO Ted Sarandos.

As a result, Netflix original movies, which began Oct. 16 with Beasts of No Nation, is making titles available for streaming concurrent with the theatrical bow. Beasts generated just $51,000 from 31 independent screens opening weekend, which prompted Sarandos to take the unusual step of disclosing that 3 million people streamed the movie in the United States.

Regardless, Miles said if economic arrangements provided by studios to Regal were greater than the risk, she would consider it.

“We just didn’t see that in [the Paramount] test,” she said.

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