Prediction: Major studio goes day-and-date

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Forget Mark Cuban. After years of rabble-rousing execs touting -- and exhibitors fearing -- the simultaneous release of a big movie in theaters and VOD, a studio finally will pull the trigger in 2008. And not with an ultra-arty specialty film but with a major spring or summer release. Think Jon Favreau's adaptation of "Iron Man" from Paramount or Fox's "X-Files" sequel as possibilities.

As marketing expenses balloon, day-and-date increasingly makes economic sense because the same campaign can be used to entice moviegoers too busy or lazy to go to theaters. Hungry fans still will line up at the boxoffice, while others will pay $50-$60 to host opening-weekend parties in their living rooms, pay-per-view-boxing style.

April's "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay" would be a perfect choice because New Line could use sister unit Time Warner Cable as a means of distributing the film. And what better way to watch a stoner movie than in the comfort (and privacy) of home? Exhibitors would make plenty of unhappy noise, but the first studio to go day-and-date likely will cut theater owners in on the television profits, and a windows war will be averted -- for now.






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