With the dawn of broadband internet and streaming services like Netflix and iTunes, the arse has fallen out of the once-profitable home market for major studios.
People aren't buying DVDs anymore because, well, they can either illegally download the film they want or they can wait for it to turn up on Netflix et al. We've talked before about Screening Room, a service that Napster creator Sean Foley has been touting for ages, that would put films in cinemas directly into people's homes for a high premium.
While Foley's project has had support from the likes of JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg, it hasn't really taken off with any kind of alacrity. However, studios have since tried their own way of shortening the release window - as in, the time a film is in a cinema exclusively - by working out a deal with cinemas themselves.
A report by Variety has it that Warner Bros. and Fox are in active negotiations with major theatrical exhibitors to agree a deal which would see films released by these studios in your home after 30 days from its cinema release for a price of $30 per rental. Universal, meanwhile, are trying to shorten the window to just 20 days. The only studio, according to Variety's report, who aren't interested and aren't negotiating for this is Disney - as their films tend to have a much longer release window than other studios.
The reason for all of this is, of course, pretty simple - money. Film studios have lost huge amounts of money from the death of DVD and the home market in general, and the current time of 90+ days between cinema release and home release means that studios have to shell out for expensive promotional campaigns twice. The feeling is that if the window is shorter, the promotional campaign will hold over and people would be more likely to be familiar with the film in one month than in three months.
In order to make it palatable for cinemas themselves, some studios are offering to cut the major chains in on profits for a certain period of time. Other aspects include limiting the low-cost option rental to 90 days and physical copies of the film to the same period of time, and Variety's report stresses that no deals are firmly in place - but it is coming.
So, is it a good thing? Let us know in the comments.