My feature film debut, Six Reasons Why
, gets its Canadian over-the-air premiere on CHCH TV
in the Greater Toronto Area tonight at 9pm!
After making its way through AMC, Netflix, Amazon, HMV, Walmart, Blockbuster, iTunes and the Superchannel over the past 4 years, the last window to conquer happens the day before my birthday. Well played, E1 Entertainment… I wonder if they’ll put Twilight out on Catherine Hardwicke’s birthday eve too.
A film goes through several ‘release windows’ in its commercial life. Step one is usually the theatre, but not always. Six Reasons Why was fortunate enough to get a theatrical release, but a lot of films skip step one and go directly to step two: home video. Once it was just VHS or DVD for sale at video stores, but now it’s Amazon, Netflix, iTunes and Cable-on-Demand as well. That release window is often followed by a premium cable release, in the case of Six Reasons Why it was Superchannel that bought the first TV window. The final release is then basic cable for everyone to see over the air. The idea is maximum dollars and maximum audience as the arena of exclusivity gets broader with each window.
Until the contract with the distributor elapses and the rights revert back to the filmmaker so he can sell it all over again.
Often the new version of the film gets sold with some deleted scenes or remastery, and then we all buy the “10-Year Anniversary Edition” because we need to upgrade our media to the next higher definition version. You know how you own Star Wars and Reservior Dogs on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, Blu-Ray and Sony PSP? That’s why.
If you’ve heard of Day-and-Date release, that is the idea of releasing a film into multiple windows simultaneously. So you might be able to watch Dark Knight Rises on your iPad or home theatre the same day that I’ll be lined up for a midnight screening. Studios are terrified of the idea, but with piracy making that possible already, the studios are keen to try to scoop some of that cash themselves.
And there you have it: how movies are exploited… and how we are, too.