Up until a few years ago, the standard practice for movies was to release them in the theaters first, and then four to six months later, bring them out on VHS or DVD. That “release window” shrank to four to six weeks, and now many movies are released to DVD on the same day that they debut on the big screens. Video on demand has also become a factor, and you often can view that new release on your cable or satellite service as a pay per view on the same day the movie opens at the theaters.
HDTV pioneer and advocate Mark Cuban has decided to clobber the standard practice once again. Last week, Daily Variety reported that he intends to release movies in HD through video on demand up to three weeks before the theatrical release date. The new service is called “Ultra HD Video on Demand“, and the first title to be offered under this plan may be Brian De Palma’s “Redacted“, a film about the war in Iraq. The cost will likely be between $13 and $20; that’s steep for a movie rental, but compared with a night at the movies for two to four people, that’s a bargain.
Cuban’s plan is to market films from his Magnolia Pictures so that they make equal money from TV, theater, and DVD distribution. In effect, his Ultra HD Vide on Demand service will become a virtual chain of first-release movie theaters in homes all across the country.
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