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NATO Takes Its Premium VOD Battle International

John Fithian
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

President-CEO John Fithian warns at ShowCanada that the new VOD service could damage the film business in two significant ways.

The National Assn. of Theater Owners is going global with its campaign to combat premium VOD.

Speaking at industry convention ShowCanada in Ottawa on Wednesday, NATO president-CEO John Fithian said the new VOD service could damage the film business in two significant ways — reduce movie ticket sales and exacerbate piracy by offering an early digital version.

His remarks at ShowCanada mark an expanded, global phase in NATO’s effort to preserve the theatrical window. Beginning with Canada this week, Fithian will begin holding dozens of meetings with international exhibitors.

He’ll travel to Europe this month and to Australia in August.

STORY: Christopher Nolan, Jon Favreau Join Fight Against Premium VOD

"We hope that this early VOD experiment begins and ends in the U.S.," Fithian said. "But if not, we want exhibitors everywhere to be prepared."

DirecTV launched its premium VOD in late April in partnership with Warner Bros., Universal, 20th Century Fox and Sony. Select movies are being offered two months after their theatrical release for $29.99. The traditional theatrical window is three to four months, give or take.

Fithian also reiterated NATO’s call for the four participating studios to release sales data.

“How can the industry evaluate the studios’ test if they continue to hide the fact?” Fithian asked in his keynote address.

Fithian also confirmed that a number of leading directors have added their signatures to a letter decrying premium VOD that was spearheaded by NATO, with help from James Cameron. They include David Dobkin, Jon Favreau, Christopher Nolan, M. Night Shyamalan and Quentin Tarantino as well as producers Mark Boal and Jim Cardwell.