Fox Defends Premium VOD Plans

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Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, says early in-home releases will focus on underperforming films, like "127 Hours" - which earned James Franco an Oscar nod, but only grossed $18.3 million in theaters.

NEW YORK - Fox Filmed Entertainment plans to use a controversial emerging early window for film releases on VOD, known as premium VOD, only in select cases and mostly for movies that appeal to adult viewers, but have not realized their full potential in theaters.

That is how Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman of News Corp.'s Fox Filmed Entertainment, reacted in an interview with the New York Times
to criticism voiced by movie exhibitors about several big studios' plans to release films in homes 60 days after they hit theaters.

“This is not going to be every film," he said. “It’s going to be pretty much a niche offering.”

Gianopulos cited 127 Hours as a recent film that would have made sense to release on premium VOD. It got positive reviews and an Oscar nomination for star James Franco, but grossed only $18.3 million during its run in theaters. A premium VOD run would in this case have been a bid for viewers enticed by the Oscar buzz.

His comments came after an outcry from theater owners about several big studios' plans to start offering select movies on demand in cable and satellite TV homes 60 days after the start of their theatrical runs for around $30.
Gianopulos said Fox is also considering a system that would see the studio adjust the on-demand release date depending on the amount of time a film actually spends on a substantial number of screens. “The longer they’re in theaters, the longer the window,” he said in explaining how the system may work. It is expected to be part of discussions with theater owners.

“It’s not the end of the world," Gianopulos said in arguing that the VOD offer will be an evolving experiment.

“Calm down. We’ve been here before,” he also told the Times in discussing the negative reaction of theater owners. And he suggested that their concerns were mostly hypothetical “monsters in the closet”-type worries about lower prices or earlier VOD runs.