There are plenty of reasons for someone to not be able to or not want to watch a movie in theaters, which is perfectly fine, but it sucks having to wait months for a movie to become available outside of theaters. Even if you’re getting your hands on a movie through less legal means, you’ll have to settle for low-quality cams until the film is actually released on DVD and digital platforms, which takes months. Fortunately, this is something that Paramount is working to change, with the wait time for movies leaving theaters potentially being brought down to just a few weeks.
Paramount Pictures has struck a deal with two major cinema chains to make new movies available to watch at home just two weeks after they leave most theaters. The new arrangement will begin with two smaller films, but the Viacom Inc.-owned studio hopes to continue with the strategy, potentially changing the calculus of movie distribution for studios and exhibitors alike. Since the rise of the VCR in the 1980s, studios have waited at least 90 days after a movie debuts on the big screen before making it available elsewhere, regardless of when it stopped playing in theaters. Most movies play for less than two months, but cinema owners have argued that people wouldn’t go to the multiplex if they knew they could watch a film at home in less than three months. In recent years, however, a growing chorus in Hollywood has complained that the 90-day “window” encourages piracy and fails to acknowledge shifting consumer behavior. A recent study commissioned by Paramount found 72% of consumers weren’t aware of the 90-day delay. Even so, shortening that window is a much-debated idea for an industry that continues to wrestle with shrunken DVD sales, a rise in digital competitors and worrisome attendance trends at the multiplex.