The National Association of Theater Owners, which spoke out against the premium video-on-demand service begun by several studios last month, has called upon the studios to release sales figures for the DirecTV service.
“What’s an experiment without data?” NATO president and CEO John Fithian said in a Wednesday press release from the trade organization. “Every weekend – usually before the weekend is over – the performance of movies at the U.S. box office is reported around the world. Studio executives are working the phones, touting the stellar box office for hit movies and explaining the underperformance of the flops. When it comes to premium VOD – crickets.”
As TheWrap exclusively reported last week, some producers and distributors were complaining about the lack of solid VOD information even before the studios' premium VOD initiative began.
Rentrak does release a weekly ranking of VOD standings, but the premium VOD entries to date – Sony's "Just Go With It," Fox's "Cedar Rapids" and Warner Bros.' "Hall Pass" – did not make that chart, which does not include any information about revenue. Typically, rankings are released for home entertainment products but sales figures are not.
"If this becomes a significant enough source of revenue, it will be in a lot of people’s interests to provide those metrics," Lindsay Conner, an entertainment law partner at Manatt Phelps and Phillips, told TheWrap. "At this point, no one has that incentive. It’s too experimental. Nobody wants to be tied to the result."
Spokespersons for Fox and Sony said the studios had no comment on the NATO release.
Premium VOD films are offered through DirecTV's Home Premiere service for $29.99, typically debuting on the service 60 days after their theatrical debut.
The premium VOD release of "Just Go With It" did not substantially impact the box-office figures for that Adam Sandler film, which was still in theatrical release at the time of its VOD premiere.