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Time Warner CEO: Shorter Windows a ‘Prospecting’ Expedition

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes
Jeff Bewkes

By : Erik Gruenwedel | Posted: 10 Mar 2010

As movie studios consider shortening the theatrical release windows in order to create a retail window for DVD and Blu-ray Disc, Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeffrey Bewkes was asked at an investor summit whether Hollywood was attempting to earn “nickels while sacrificing dimes” following a record 2009 box office.

Bewkes, who is no stranger to upending the entertainment status quo after spearheading movie distribution on cable video-on-demand (VOD) the same day as the DVD release, said tweaking of the windows is part of an ongoing process to create value throughout the distribution chain.

“We have every interest in maintaining the strength and the resources of our theatrical distributors to make the film theater experience a ‘live’ experience,” Bewkes said. “It is also true that people demand films earlier in their homes. And if you don’t keep moving along with what consumers demand, they will steal the films.”

He said technology improvements have altered the way consumers can access movies, in addition to enhancing the theatrical experience with digital screens and 3D.

“That experience is not going to be impinged upon by earlier home video opportunities as everybody might think,” Bewkes said.

He cited recent unnamed efforts (by Disney to shorten the theatrical window by four weeks in the United Kingdom for Alice in Wonderland) within the industry as a “normal prospecting expedition” that is attempting to figure out the best possible solution.

The largest theater operator in the United Kingdom initially threatened to boycott showing Alice before coming to a resolution with Disney. Theater operators in the United States believe tweaking of windows abroad will eventually lead to changes domestically.

“We have an industry trying to work cooperatively with each other and move these [windows] in the right relationship,” Bewkes said.


User comments

Commented by Kim Lapper
Posted on 2010-03-11 14:31:24

Is there any published data showing how much revenue or percentage of income comes from each form of distribution? Compare today’s model to that of say 1992, 2002? When in theatres, it made this percent of revenue, Tape or DVD rental made this percent of revenue, Tape or DVD sales made this percent of revenue and so on, and now VOD percent of revenue. I’m not talking about the sweetheart price deals Blockbuster had with studios, that undercut and destroyed the market for DVD sales and rentals, but regular cost revenue to today’s model? 1992 money value to 2010 money value, and so on. It’s hard to believe that more revenue comes from today then years ago when you had 35,000 rental stores. You talk about pirating of movies as the main reason to bring movies out so fast. Everybody watches as fast as they come out so there is no need to pirate any longer. Today, people’s DVD players are wearing out, causing people to complain about not being able to watch them.


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