Tribeca: Joe Roth Suggests Movie Studios Should Start Buying Theaters

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Joe Roth

The producer says studios should take action to get a bigger share of the profits from the "first window of opportunity in theaters."

NEW YORK -- While he believes that the current conflict between studios and exhibitors over premium VOD will soon blow over, producer Joe Roth argued Wednesday that movie studios themselves should own theaters.

Studios have not been allowed to own theaters since they were forced to divest themselves of their theater chains in the late '40s.

"People who own studios should go and start buying theaters," Roth said at the Bloomberg-sponsored Business of Entertainment program, part of the Tribeca Film Festival. "I mean I'm spending $2 billion a year on making and marketing movies, and 100 percent of the value is created in that first window of opportunity in theaters, and I'm letting it go to a landlord who decides after 30 days he can sell more popcorn" with another film, he said, explaining his rationale.
Interviewer Charlie Rose also asked Roth about the current debate over premium VOD.

"The reason you're seeing this premium VOD business -- 95 percent of the gross of an American movie is achieved in the first 30 days," Roth said. "There is no flexibility on the thing that determines the value of the product. So, it's wacky."

Asked if he is supporting premium VOD, Roth said: "I don't know. I think this is all transitional stuff."

He predicted a positive move toward letting consumers choose what to see, when and how. "Five, seven years from now, we will look back and go 'what was that turf war about?'" Roth suggested.