NATO Angry Over Premium VOD, But OK With Summit’s ‘Source Code’ Experiment

John Fithian says studio’s early release plan respects windows; Jon Favreau and Quentin Tarantino also oppose move

The National Association of Theater Owners continued to slam studios for shortening theatrical windows with so-called premium video on demand. 

In a keynote speech at industry trade show ShowCanada on Wednesday, NATO President and CEO John Fithian urged Canadian movie theater operators to be vigilant in the battle to prevent Hollywood studios from shortening theatrical release windows. However, the group spared Summit from its anger. 

The studio announced Tuesday that it will offer "Source Code" on VOD and other digital platforms two weeks before physical discs are released. In a statement to TheWrap, Fithian said that Summit's plans do not significantly impact theatrical release patterns. 

“Theater owners have consistently called for experimentation in delivery to the home that respects the traditional theatrical window. Summit’s plan does just that. That is very different from the DirecTV scheme that four major studios are testing – which does not respect the concerns of the studios’ theatrical partners,” Fithian said. 

There was no middle ground for Warner Bros. Sony, Universal and Fox, all of whom are experimenting with more drastically abbreviated windows. At ShowCanada, the group trotted out a new list of big name directors such as  Jon Favreau, Chris Nolan, M. Night Shyamalan, and Quentin Tarantino who oppose plans to release films via DirecTV a month before they hit store shelves.  Producers Mark Boal and Jim Cardwell also signed a letter of protest. 

"Early VOD releases to the home could damage the movie industry in two significant ways," Fithian told the industry confab. "Early releases will reduce movie ticket sales, and will exacerbate movie theft by giving pirates an early pristine copy of movies."

Fithian once again called on studios to release sales data from their experiment.

"How can the industry evaluate the studios' test if they continue to hide the facts," he said.