Warner Bros. may be trying to keep its new DVD releases away from Redbox and *Netflix* until it’s had about a month to sell them in stores, but the studio isn’t against giving cable subscribers access to new releases before the DVD even comes out. In an Atlanta-based trial with *Comcast*, Warner Bros. debuted two films, Observe and Report and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, on VOD a few days before the films were released on DVD.
Warner Bros. has been releasing films on DVD and cable VOD simultaneously since 2007, but Video Business reports that this is the first time the studio has tried digital distribution before a DVD launch — and the first VOD before DVD release by a major Hollywood studio in general. It’s a practice that smaller studios like IFC have made commonplace; with some, like Maya Entertainment, even choosing to premiere their movies on VOD the same day they hit theaters.
To be clear, risking box office revenues for a simultaneous VOD/theater premiere is not something that most big studios would even think about — but Warner Bros.’ trial of the VOD before DVD release is a signal that at least one studio is willing to see whether giving people digital access to certain films first, will negatively impact DVD sales in the long run.
Worth noting is that for the Atlanta trial, Warner Bros.’ messaging still focused on driving actual disc sales, with the tagline: “Watch on video-on-demand now and buy it Tuesday,