Paramount, Movie Theaters Sharing A Piece Of The Revenue Pie With Unusually Early Digital Release

You can't run from the future of digital releases.

You can’t run from the future of digital releases.

Look around you — notice anything different? Probably not, but big change could be underfoot, at least in the cinematic realm: Paramount Studios is trying something new, releasing Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse digitally — only 39 days after its theatrical release.

That’s a much shorter window than the 90-day rule studios and theaters traditionally stick to, and it took a joint effort between those two sides to whittle that time down in this case: back in July, Paramount announced that it would be teaming up with theater chains like AMC and Cineplex to release two movies to home video earlier than usual. How’d they get theaters to agree? By offering to share revenue from digital sales with them.

That bring us to today, when Scouts Guide debuts on digital platforms for sale and rental and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension will go digital on Dec. 15, a mere 47 days after its theatrical release.

There are a few winners in this equation, as Forbes points out:

Paramount doesn’t have to spend marketing dollars in a few months to remind everyone about movies that, by then, will have been out of theaters for a while and it and other studios will get to determine the optimal time to release movies digitally.

Theaters will still grab those fans who can’t wait, but then will make some extra money on digital releases once the initial box office rush is over.

Consumers will be able to watch movies at home and on mobile devices earlier. It unhinges the death grip theaters have on that release window, meaning studios can base digital releases on consumer demand instead of when they can do it without theaters getting mad and cutting off their access to distribution.

• And there’s always the chance for cross-promotion that benefits everyone — like a discount code for a digital copy printed on the movie ticket when you go see a film in the theater. The studio gets money from the digital purchase, theaters still get your butt in a seat and you get to watch the movie at your leisure, for a discount.

Of course, where there are winners, there are also losers: pirates may have less to offer as fewer people are as tempted, perhaps, to commit a crime and illegally access content when they know they won’t have to wait as long for it as they did in the past. DVD sales may also take a hit, as they’re lagging behind digital platforms when it comes to releasing new movies.

Though only AMC and Cineplex are included in this particular deal, it’s very like that other theaters — and other studios and their parent companies — will jump on the bandwagon as well. We wouldn’t be surprised if that traditional 90-day waiting period becomes a thing of the past, industrywide.

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