‘Toy Story 3,’ ‘Letters to Juliet’ Get Standing O’s

There’s nary a harsh critic in the house, with exhibitors heaping praise on Disney and Summit

Last Updated: March 16, 2010 @ 11:35 PM

It’s not Cannes or Sundance, but Disney and Summit both generated some pretty nice pre-release buzz at ShoWest in Las Vegas Monday.

Presenting the upcoming "Toy Story 3" in its non-native 2D format, Disney packed two giant theaters at morning screenings at the Paris and Bellagio hotels, with one exiting theater-chain operative noting, "This wasn’t the best animated movie of the year, it was the best movie."

Later, Summit’s Amanda Seyfried romantic comedy-drama "Letters to Juliet" drew a standing ovation, with an executive for Northern California-based Prime Cinemas enthusiastically noting, "This is going to single-handedly revive the romantic comedy genre."

Besides engaging in movie criticism, the threat of shrinking theatrical release windows — as it usually is at ShoWest — was very much on the minds of theater owners.

With the home entertainment market in freefall, there’s general agreement that the studios need flexibility on windows to help prop up the ancillary market. And attendees were still buzzing Tuesday about figures released by Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Michael Lynton a day earlier — data that was overshadowed a bit by his call for healther snacks at theater concession stands.

According to Lynton, this is how dramatically the DVD business has degraded:

"When we hit the peak of DVDs back in 2005-06, 57 percent of revenues came from rental, and 43 percent came from sell-through," he noted. "Today, in part because of the recession, the split is closer to 75-25 in favor of rental. That’s a huge change.  Because the studios make roughly $14-$18 on every DVD we sell. But on rentals, we only make between $1 and $4."