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Fox Studio CEO: Getting Industry Consensus on PVOD is Like 'Herding Cats'

8 Sep, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

20th Century Fox Film CEO Stacey Snider

Despite misstarts, theatrical resistance and questionable consumer demand, premium video-on-demand should be a reality in next 12 months, according to 20th Century Fox Film CEO Stacey Snider.

Speaking Sept. 7 at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch media, communications & entertainment confab in Los Angeles, Snider said technology is rapidly changing not only how movies are made (digital storyboards), but also how they’re distributed (consumer products, TV animation) and consumed (virtual reality).

“Having been in the movie business 30 years, and identifying myself as a real [movie] classicist, it was surprising for me to think I would be pulled toward technology as a way to make films better,” she said.

As a vocal proponent (along with Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara) of PVOD, Snider reiterated how current market conditions (i.e. depressed summer box office) underscore the inevitability and material benefits of enabling early digital access to theatrical movies in the home at a premium price.

“[PVOD] really is [an] incremental [benefit],” Snider said. “We are probably the only business that advertises and makes movies that are off the shelf for a long period of time [or 'dark zone']," said Snider.

Denying consumer access to movies due to a longstanding theatrical window that maintains exclusivity on new movies well past their box office debut, doesn’t speak to the needs of the customer (or making money), according to the executive.

Snider said the industry should be able to uphold the tradition and value of theatrical distribution while also trying to bring the distribution windows forward find the “sweet spot” for digital retail.

She said it is no secret home video sales are lagging and that electronic sellthrough is not making up the shortfall.

“Even to make up that difference … [PVOD] would be a significant enhancement to our bottom line,” Snider said, adding that PVOD aims to attract a brand new consumer, not just early home entertainment buyers.

“We’ll be able to capture people that just can’t get to the film, but are keenly interested in what we make, ” Snider said.

When asked by the moderator about the industry finally pulling the trigger on PVOD after talking about it for over a year, Snider said “I know, it’s [like] herding cats. I think [PVOD launches] within in the next six-to-12 months. “

While the CEO wants earlier retail access for studio movies, she doesn’t want to give product away. Snider criticized Netflix’s aggressive move into movie production, contending the SVOD pioneer’s foray affects studios by increasing the number of buyers in the market for scripts, directors and talent.

“We feel that,” she said.

The executive contends from a “macro perspective,” there is not “one single advantage” SVOD offers filmmakers. While she admits bingeing a TV show and “getting your fix” is an innovative and important distribution strategy, distributing theatrical movies on SVOD is not different or better.

“There’s nothing wonderful about having your upside opportunity [as a filmmaker] capped and commoditized,” Snider said, alluding to Netflix’s insistence on streaming original movies globally concurrent with theatrical distribution.

Snider contends SVOD’s barnstorming approach in Hollywood is upending longstanding relationships between creators and studios, and that the industry will soon be “wising up” to the reality Netflix making 50 movies a year is not an advantage.

“I couldn’t find the … movies that we were all supposed to be upset got made at Netflix. Show me where [they are]. Point me to an article or [marketing] campaign that gets me excited,” she said.

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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