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Rethinking theatrical motion picture releases

In a guest opinion column today’s New York Times, Robert W. Cort, a former CIA Anaylst turned movie producer, has this to say about the ineffeciency of theatrical motion picture releases.

“Why then do smart executives keep defending the sanctity of the theatrical release? Maybe it’s sentimentality about the big screen, or the complicated and long-standing symbiosis between the film industry and theater exhibitors. Many in Hollywood do genuinely fear that a multiplatform release would destroy cinemas completely.

I don’t believe that closing the release window would mean apocalypse for theaters. Yes, attendance in multiplexes would dip as some moviegoers watched from home, but many would still choose cinemas, as they did in the 1950’s. Yes, exhibitors would have to adapt and compete — but maybe you’d be able to get popcorn for less than a 5,000 percent mark-up.

If movies were released simultaneously online, on DVD and in the cinemas, consumers would have more choices, filmmakers would share their stories with more viewers and studios would greatly increase their profits. Hollywood is best off when the biggest possible audience shows up on opening night, whether they’re sitting in front of a computer, a television — or a big theater screen.”

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