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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

With DVD and movie theater revenues down, DirecTV is trying to alleviate tight sales by going up.

The largest provider of digital TV entertainment services launched Home Premiere, a new video-on-demand service, in late April.

Home Premiere offers movies for $29.99 on DirecTV Cinema at least 60 days after playing in theaters.

Home Premiere marks the first time major studio movies are available at that moment and price, according to the Los Angeles Times. "Just Go With It," the first Home Premiere movie released, was available 69 days after showing in theaters.

DirecTV's website said Home Premiere movies give people convenience; they can enjoy releases months before they're available on Netflix or DVD. Once purchased, Home Premiere movies have unlimited plays for 48 hours.

While it might please families, Home Premiere has filmmakers and theater owners rethinking business strategies.

Twenty-three directors, including James Cameron and Peter Jackson, issued an open letter against the video-on-demand service in April. It asked studios how Home Premiere would affect the movie industry.

"We ask that our studio partners do not rashly undermine the current - and successful - system of releasing films in a sequential distribution window that encourages movie lovers to see films in the optimum, and most profitable, exhibition arena: the movie theaters of America," the letter said.

Derek Chang, who oversees Home Premiere, said in a Bloomberg article Home Premiere would help theaters because they make little revenue two months after a release.

However, Chief Executive Officer of Cinemark Holding Alan Stock told Bloomberg theaters' revenues are threatened by shortening cinema time. On-demand movies premiere 90 to 120 days after a movie opens.

Cinemark, as a result, isn't screening trailers of movies shown on TV sooner than 90 days. It might also follow Regency Theaters, which doesn't show films breaking the 90-day window; it pulled "Just Go With It" from theaters.

Paramount Pictures is not participating, and Walt Disney Studios is weighing its options. Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures have already partnered with Home Premiere.

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Jossie Barroso, a fourth-year telecommunications student at UF, said mere patience would defeat Home Premiere's premise.

"It seems too expensive when you can just wait a little longer to rent it for a cheaper price," she said.

If the $30 price isn't embraced, Chang said rental fees might go down.

"We're testing a price point and testing a window in the early days of this product, and we'll see how it takes," Chang told Bloomberg.

However, second-year UF biology student Nick Harris said it will always come down to price. Home Premiere may never pay off for college students.

"Thirty dollars to rent a movie when I can watch it in theaters two months before, or buy it a month later for $10?" he said. "It doesn't make sense."

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