NATO's Fithian: Let's Be Flexible on Windows

With the DVD business cratering and theatrical booming, exhibitors can deal, he tells ShoWest

Disagreements may have cropped up over the menu selection at concession stands, but studios and theater business continued to strike a cooperative, pragmatic tone regarding often incendiary topic of release windows at ShoWest.

In his conference address Tuesday, NATO president and CEO John Fithian told attendees to expect more release scenarios like “Alice in Wonderland,” for which Disney asked exhibitors for a shortened 12-week release window.

In an abrupt departure from some of his previous ShoWest speeches, Fithian added that the exhibition industry will be fine with that.

“Some recent industry conversations related to windows have been misinterpreted,” he said. “Individual distribution and exhibition executives have discussed some additional flexibility on a very limited number of movies where theatrical sales and home video sales can both benefit through particular seasonal scheduling. Cinema operators seek big movie releases throughout the year. Distributors may need slightly different release windows on a limited number of individual films to accommodate a strong twelve-month release cycle. 

“For example, exhibitors want more commercial product released theatrically in September, and distributors may want a home video release of those theatrical movies in time for the winter holiday season,” Fithian added. “As long as the overall windows model remains robust, such limited discussions can provide benefits to the entire industry.”