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Regal rejects Paramount experiment to shorten time between theatrical, home release

‘Paranormal Activity 4'

An image from Paramount Pictures’ “Paranormal Activity 4.” The series’ next movie, “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension,” is part of the studio’s experiment to shorten the gap between theatrical and home video release.

 

A much-ballyhooed plan by Paramount Pictures to release movies into homes earlier than usual isn’t gaining much traction in the exhibition industry.

Earlier this month, Paramount touted a partnership with AMC Theatres of Kansas and Canadian theater chain Cineplex Entertainment to make two of its upcoming films available via digital home video 17 days after they exit most theaters.

The deal was the first of its kind between a major studio and leading theater companies and represented a significant departure from the typical model used by theater owners.

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So far, however, other big chains aren’t ready to sign up.

The largest U.S. theater chain, Regal Cinemas, has publicly rejected the proposal as a new distribution model for circuits.

“We appreciate Paramount’s willingness to seek exhibitor input and provide for exhibitor participation in certain ancillary revenues as they evaluate alternative distribution models,” Regal Chief Executive Amy Miles said in an earnings call on Thursday. “However, the parameters of the current proposal, both economic and structural, simply do not make sense for us given the potential risks to the long-term health of our business.”

Studio films traditionally have not become available for home purchase until 90 days after their theatrical debut. Attempts to shorten the window have previously sparked battles between cinema chains and studios.

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Studios have argued that the long gap between theatrical and home video release can cause an increase in piracy and is out of step with changing consumer behavior.

But theater owners have said shorter windows will hurt ticket sales by discouraging consumers from going to the multiplex, a view reflected in Miles’ comments to analysts.

“As has been the case historically, we will utilize our screens to exhibit films distributed using a traditional distribution model that respects the existing theatrical window,” she said.

Twitter: @rverrier

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