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Saturday, February 20, 2016

RELEASE WINDOW Cinemas love Amazon, nix Netflix

TBC

Guardian article.
There have been several high profile battles over the traditional release window - the convention that there will be around a 3 month gap between cinema run and DVD release, and another before TV release (which can be further staggered in the UK between premium subscription channels such as Sky Movies and terrestrial channels BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, C4 and C5).

Disney was forced to back down over its plans for Alice in Wonderland when several of the major chains threatened to boycott the movie if they didn't stick to the release window.

Netflix seems to have suffered such a backlash with its plans for a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel (the biggest foreign hit in US history took $130m there) to be an IMAX release seemingly abandoned. Cinema chains again pledged to boycott the film, due to be released on the Netflix platform at the same time.

Netflix have also indulged in limited releases for films in order to make them eligible for Oscar consideration; they're positioned as a threat to the cinema exhibitors, fuelling the home cinema alternative (and converged mobile viewing for that matter).

Amazon, in contrast, is taking a cinema first approach. It's upcoming Woody Allen movie will receive a wide release in the US, with a gap before appearing on Amazon Prime, their streaming subscription service - a boost to exhibitors rather than a threat.

Bear this in mind when considering production strategies, marketing and distribution - all of which can catastrophically fail if vertical or horizontal integration strategies that don't put cinema first antagonise the cinema chains.

Conversely, the right release date can have a huge impact - being aware of major or similar releases, holidays (critical for kids' movies) and annual events (Saw established Halloween as its annual release date) is crucial.

There is always the counter-programming option though, providing a horror at Xmas for example.
Furthermore, cinema chains don't have the same response to low budget Indies being simultaneously released on a multi-platform basis. Warp's For Those in Peril is a good example, released in multiple European countries for a short run whilst also out on streaming and TV. Several chains have short run special programming as a members feature, Curzon being a good example, with director Q+A after the screening a common ploy here.


Sheer bad luck with news events can be an issue too - several films were pulled or had to undergo reshoots after 9/11 for example, and this week saw Black pulled from French cinemas after chains there boycotted it for portraying criminals from the same Belgian area as the Paris attacks killers came from.

The move came as a Paris court overturned a decision not to allow anyone under 18 tboycoo see Salafistes, a controversial exposé of African radical Islam, which was an almost unheard of restriction on a documentary.
The distributors of Black had already been hit by a similar decision from the culture ministry to bar under-16s from seeing their Romeo and Juliet-style story of forbidden love between members of two rival gangs.
A spokesman for Paname Distribution said: “Due to the reluctance of cinemas to show Black in the current climate, we took the decision to cancel its cinematic release.”
Young people threw stones at police outside a multiplex in Brussels when the film was first screened there in November.
Black was a hit in Belgium despite some cinemas refusing to show it after the violence and it being issued with an over-16 certificate that its makers condemned as unjust given the characters were mostly teenagers.

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