Calm is restored after the furore over release windows, but the issue remains a live one. Richard Brass reports.
Tensions have been running high between exhibitors and distributors over narrowing theatrical and DVD release windows, but for now the storm has abated.
Earlier this year, Twentieth Century Fox attempted to release the DVD of Night At The Museum after it had been in cinemas for just 13 weeks, triggering a stiff response from exhibitors.
In the UK, Cineworld, Odeon, Vue and Showcase pulled the film from their cinemas. Their move followed a similar boycott in Germany, where Cinestar, Cinemaxx, UCI, Cineplex and Kinopolis dropped all Fox films after the studio tried to release the DVD of Eragon just three months after the theatrical release, rather than the traditional six months.
Fox were forced to concede and the films were reinstated, but the cases are a sign of the ongoing tussle between distributors and exhibitors over theatrical windows, one which looks likely to re-emerge as distributors try to maximise their returns.
But for now, peace seems to have been restored. Christian Grass, Fox's executive vice-president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, described the move as a one-off decision, and said Fox believed in retaining healthy windows.