Regal CEO: Exhibitor Has Had 'Productive' Premium VOD Talks with Studios
NEW YORK - Regal Entertainment Group CEO Amy Miles told an investor conference on Monday that the film exhibition giant has had "productive" conversations with studios about their premium VOD tests and once again expressed optimism that the partners can resolve any differences as theater operators look to avoid any negative impact on their business. She didn't provide specifics, but said the common goal for both sides was to ensure the strength of the theatrical window.
Meanwhile, Cinemark Holdings CEO Alan Stock at the same conference struck a less conciliatory tone, echoing comments from Hangover director Todd Phillips who recently told CinemaCon that "if I had wanted to make movies for television, I would have been a TV director."
"We're not there to display and show made-for-TV movies. So, if you are making a made-for-TV movie, then take it to the TV," Stock told the JPMorgan Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in a session that was Webcast. "But if you want a good-quality movie, we demand certain reasons and aspects for it."
Asked about reports that exhibitors want it mentioned in distribution contracts which movies will hit premium VOD, he also said: "We want to know ahead of time what they want to do with those titles."
Stock said that studios clearly are testing the premium VOD window with $30 releases shown in homes 60 days after their theatrical launch, and so far no damage has been felt. "Although it's probably not impactful to us currently...our message back needs to be very clear that as they change that, we want to be part of that equation," he said. "We want to make sure that what they are doing and how they are going about it does not affect the exhibition community."
Stock expressed confidence that blockbusters won't come to the premium VOD window, but that it will continue to focus on smaller or underperforming titles. "That was always their answer back - we purposely are not after trying to take big titles," he said about studios. "Noone was interested in doing it that way. Those movies have big budgets, they rely on the theaters, the marketing, the buzz - all those things need to be created."
Still, he signaled that exhibitors will contemplate new approaches to business if the premium VOD change affects box office performance. That could mean changes to "how we display trailers, whether we charge for them or not, our marketing materials, the terms by which we play the movies, where we play the movies," he reiterated. "All those kinds of things come into play."
Meanwhile, Miles on Monday once again talked about the "very symbiotic relationship between exhibition and the studios" and said that she is optimistic the two sides can work things out. "Historically, when there have been changes to the business model, we have always found a way - because we have aligned interests - to work out those issues in a mutually beneficial way," she emphasized. "I would expect that over time we will find a way to work with the studios on this issue, just like we have every other issue, to find a solution that works for both parties."
While she mentioned film splits and trailers and other marketing tools as possible levers in the discussions, she also emphasized: "The point is more how can we find a solution where we work together."