Warner Bros. has joined the likes of James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox Inc., in a push for bringing newly released films to home viewers, challenging theater operators who insist on showing them exclusively for the first three months after a movie's release.
Kevin Tsujihara, CEO of the Time Warner Inc. subsidiary, told an investor gathering Tuesday that the studio considers it an “imperative” to “offer consumers more choices earlier.”
“We’re having very constructive conversations with the exhibitors for the first time that we’ve had in a long time,” he reportedly told Credit Suisse’s Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. “And I think they recognize and we recognize that, all things being equal, we want to work it out with you. So we’re working with them to try to create a new window.”
Addressing the possibility of theater owners opposing such a concept, Tsujihara reportedly said: “We’re going to do it, and we’re very focused on it.”
Warner Bros. is in talks with theaters to cut down the typical 90 days of exclusivity that the latter have over new releases, as consumers have clearly indicated that this is the way they want to move forward, Tsujihara said, adding: “That’s where all the pirating is occurring. We have to meet that demand with a legal solution.”
Murdoch had drawn flak from the National Association of Theatre Owners in September when he referred to the current system as “crazy,” calling for change. The trade group went on to call Murdoch’s comment “self-serving” and warned him to “be careful he doesn’t undermine” the trust Fox has with its distribution partners, Bloomberg reported.
Theaters are losing their grip on exclusive rights to fresh content with the emergence of at-home digital distributors like Netflix Inc. On the other hand, studios are facing additional pressure from falling DVD sales and piracy, which they may be able to circumvent by encouraging home-viewing.
A spokesman for the association, however, did not have an immediate comment on the latest remarks by Tsujihara on Tuesday, according to reports.