Theater Owners Not Happy With Comcast’s Debut Day Movie Release Plans

Last week Comcast COO Stephen Burke spoke at the Cable Show in Vegas, and said his company had held talks with studios to show movies on cable on the same day as they open in theaters…LAT says in a story that two of the nation’s biggest theater chains, Regal Entertainment Group and National Amusements Inc., said they would refuse to play films made available in the home simultaneously. Regal is the nation’s largest chain with 6,400 screens. Also yesterday, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said his company has no plans to allow cable operators to air its movies on the same day of their release at theaters. “We need to be very careful about changing windows,” said Dauman. “Windows have been a very important part of the success of our company and our industry. We do not want to tread too heavily on a system that works so well.”

Burke speculated last week subscribers could be charged $30 to $50 to watch an opening-day movie at home. He said it would increase studio revenues rather than cannibalize them, if handled properly. Som scenarios being speculatd on, according to the story, include one where a new release could be made available to a limited number of customers, such as the first 1 million who sign up. Under another scenario, a film might be shown on pay-per-view one week after its theatrical release, rather than right away.