Freakonomics Flips The Window: Releasing Movie Online Before In Theaters
from the freakout-those-windows dept
We’ve talked numerous times about the movie industry’s love affair with release windows, where they basically try to get people to pay for things multiple times by releasing them in different formats at different times. The first window, normally, is the theatrical release — and the theaters go absolutely livid if anyone suggests shortening the theatrical release window. Heaven forbid anyone go so far as to suggest something as “radical” as a so-called day and date release, where it’s released in all formats at the same time, and watch the theaters go ballistic and boycott the film, as a startling admission that they don’t think they can compete with home theaters.
So, it’s quite interesting to see that the Freakonomics movie that’s coming out in the fall is apparently going to flip the windows over. Sheri Candler points us to the news, as seen at the end of the movie’s trailer, that it’s going to be released via iTunes on September 3rd, and in theaters October 1st:
Yes, it’s being released online before it’s released in the theaters. This isn’t exactly the first time this has been tried. Magnolia Films, who produced the Freakonomics film is trying something similar right now with the film Centurion, which was released via On Demand cable systems a few weeks back, and is about to come to theaters. Still, this is pretty big news. In mentioning this reversed window, Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner mentions that there’s also another “wrinkle to the release schedule,” but he’s not revealing what it is just yet.
I’m curious about this, because what the Freakonomics duo are famous for is exposing how “the common wisdom” is wrong on a variety of things. I don’t always agree with their analysis, but it would be fascinating to see if they’re exposing that the common wisdom on movie release windows is — as we’ve suggested for years — totally screwed up. I am curious, however, to see how the theaters handle this. As mentioned, in the past, they’ve boycotted day-and-date releases, and even boycotted movies that they thought were coming to DVD too soon after the theatrical release (in that case, 12 weeks). So, will theaters be boycotting the Freakonomics film? I really don’t know enough about how the film is being positioned, so if it’s only in indie/art house-type theaters, perhaps it’s not as big an issue. Still, I can’t see any of the big theaters too happy about these “wrinkles,” even if they actually prove that theaters can get more business with simultaneous releases.