Amid signs that the UK distribution market is in an increasing state of flux, British distributors are testing out more and more new ways of getting their movies in front of spectators.
'Companies are beginning to look at imaginative release plans for films that 10 years ago simply wouldn't have been possible,' Mark Batey, Chief Eexecutive of the Film Distributors' Association, commented of the many new release initiatives, especially in the home entertainment arena.
Warner Bros. has just confirmed that it will become the first Hollywood studio in the UK to offer some of its movies on DVD and VOD (Video on Demand) on the same day.
Subscribers to Sky Box Office, Virgin, BT Vision, Xbox Live will be able to 'rent' these movies at a cost of about $8 (£3.95) each. Movies can be watched an unlimited number of times within a 24-hour period.
Warner titles available include blockbusters as well as art house/indie orientated fare. Among the first films being road tested for the new release strategy in the UK are The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (one day after its DVD release), Beowulf (15 days after DVD release) as well as current DVD/TVOD titles December Boys, Mrs Ratcliffe's Revolution, The Astonaut Farmer, In The Land of Women and Clubland.
The DVD/VOD launch in the UK follows successful trials of Warner Bros.' day and date release strategy in the US and in the Benelux and Nordic regions. These trials have shown VOD buy rates and DVD sales rise due to the increased cross-promotion and marketing exposure of chosen titles at retail and on-demand.
Josh Berger, President and MD of Warner Bros. UK said: 'By being the first in the UK to make some of our movies available on the same day to buy on DVD and to 'rent'/access digitally, we and our partners are helping to satisfy growing consumer desire from our customers to see what they want, how, where and when they want it.'
The UK theatridal marketplace remains hugely overcrowded, with 10 or most new cinema releases most weeks. However, there is still increasing demand for films, especially on new platforms.
'Our Xbox LIVE Video Store customers have an insatiable appetite for the latest HD movie downloads, so for us to be able to offer current Warner Bros titles on the same day as they release on DVD is a real coup,' commented Robin Truchy, Director, Xbox LIVE Europe, Microsoft Entertainment and Devices commented:
Not just studios but UK independent distributors are also testing new release patterns. Curzon Artificial Eye and Sky Television recently collaborated to release Cannes award-winner The Edge Of Heaven, in cinemas and on Sky Box Office simultaneously.