Sony And Disney Try Simultaneous Theater/Streaming Movie Releases To Combat Piracy
Major movie studios are trying to make movies easier than ever to download legally, in an attempt to fight illegal piracy. The Wall Street Journal reports that major studios Disney and Sony have both quietly experimented with simultaneous theater and streaming releases in South Korea. But the move is sure to anger theater chains in larger markets, which are still powerful enough to make trouble for the plan.
Django Unchained, Wreck-It Ralph, and Brave have all reportedly been part of the trial, where the movie became available for viewing in theaters or on TV or a computer at the same time. Movie theaters traditionally have four months of exclusive playing rights before movies are released to other media. Smaller indie films are now sometimes available On Demand and in theaters at the same time (or even available On Demand before they hit theaters), but theaters have resisted using this option for major pictures.
In 2011, theater chains in Atlanta and Oregon shut down a trial plan to release the Eddie Murphy comedy Tower Heist to On Demand three weeks after it hit theaters. The theaters refused to show the movie if Universal Studios carried through with the plan, and Universal buckled, unable to compromise the box office revenues.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that online piracy, especially of movies and TV shows, is caused more by the absence of a legal way to pay for media than by the simple desire to get the media for free.
What do you think? Would Sony and Disney’s plan work in the US? Would theaters tolerate it?