The cinema sector believes that the interests of the film industry and – more importantly – the customer are generally best served by the existence of a clear and sustainable ‘window’ between the release of a film in a cinema theatre and on any other platform.
Changes to the release window are a matter for negotiation between the studio and operator concerned. But in general the Association and its members would be concerned about any changes in this area which might have a negative impact on the UK cinema industry.
Cinema is not the music industry, where existing business models are widely seen as broken. UK cinema admissions have remained strong over the last 25 years.
Many cinemas have invested huge amounts of their own money in improving the cinema-going experience, most recently through digitisation and now installation of new technologies such as immersive sound. Without a clear window between a film’s theatrical release and its release on other platforms, that investment is at risk.
The arrival of the pandemic prompted a number of distribution companies – including many of the US studios – to experiment with very short windows or ‘day and date’ releases, where films are released in cinemas simultaneously with other platforms (including those studios’ streaming services). At a time when many cinemas were required to close, these experiments were perhaps understandable, but it is clear that in none of those cases did the overall revenues accrued match those that would have been realised if the film had observed the more established and proven business model of a significant period of theatrical exclusivity.
In particular it is clear that those films released early onto digital platforms are subject to much greater and earlier levels of illegal downloading.
The Association looks forward to a time when the length of the release window returns to something closer to where it was pre-pandemic.