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Cinema chains vs. Hollywood in window row

Britain’s biggest cinema chain, 840-screen Odeon, has pulled hit comedy Night at the Museum from their screens in protest against Hollywood studio Twentieth Century Fox’s plans to rush out the DVD version. Other chains – Vue, Cineworld and Showcase – have followed suit.

The move is the latest in a tussle between cinemas and studios over the shrinking time gap between the cinema and DVD release, which cinemas fear will discourage the public from paying at the box office.

The UK decision follows a similar standoff last week in Germany, where leading cinema chains forced Fox into concessions over the DVD release of Eragon by pulling other movies made by the studio, including Museum, whose box office receipts plummeted as a result.

According to newspaper Variety, Fox aims to sell the DVD version of the film from 2 April, less than 100 days after its theatrical release in Britain on 26 December. This would break the four-month window between cinema and DVD release that is generally accepted by the industry as the minimum.

In 2005, Disney CEO Robert Iger angered the cinema theatre industry by saying the period between theatrical and DVD releases would shrink and could collapse entirely as studios sought to combine marketing campaigns for both products.

The average window between releasing films to theatres and on to DVDs has shrunk to about 4-1/2 months versus six months about 10 years ago. (Source: Daily Times).

Story filed 06.02.07

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