Paramount Shakes Up Theatrical and VOD Release Windows With ‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’
Major theater chains have been resisting the ongoing shortening of release date windows, which put new movie releases on VOD before they even leave theaters, sometimes on the very same day as their theatrical debuts. In a move that should make theater chains even more weary, Paramount is tightening those windows with two of their upcoming horror releases — Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.
Per Deadline, Paramount will release Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (previously titled Scouts vs. Zombies) to digital outlets just 17 days after the number of theaters in which both films are playing drop below 300. The former hits theaters on October 23, while the latter premieres a week later, on October 30. Basically, the films will debut in a much higher number of theaters nationwide, but after a week or two, the number of theaters showing those films will decrease below 300, and that’s when you can order them on VOD and other home video digital services.
That’s a plan that’s going to anger some major theater chains — many of which refuse to play films that have a day-and-date release or which premiere on VOD shortly after release. Major chains are already balking at Netflix’s similar plan, which makes their upcoming original films like Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation and the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel available on Instant the same day as theatrical release. Many theater chains fear that this will cut into their bottom line, losing the value of exclusivity.
In a time when chains are struggling to keep up and raising prices of concessions to make up for the loss of theater-goers due to pirating, this move is perceived as combative. Meanwhile, studios are continually fighting the same battle, and putting these films on digital platforms months while they’re still in theaters may provide some relief.
Paramount Worldwide Distribution and Marketing President Megan Colligan said that the “new distribution strategy is modular and allows us to engage with consumers throughout the lifecycle of our films to meet their needs while reducing the piracy window.” Most films disappear from theaters after six weeks, allowing for a two-month window in which they are not available to audiences via any platform, which tends to encourage piracy in an age when consumers expect immediate fulfillment.