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Breaking the Movie Studio 'Release Window' Logjam

As many people are aware, the advent of global and direct digital distribution of filmed entertainment has created challenges for traditional creators and distributors of movies and films.  In the past, movie studios relied on theaters to distribute their products, only later making them available to TV broadcasters.  With the growth of DVDs, studios started to embrace making their major films available more quickly after their theatrical debut.  It's now as soon as a month after they leave theaters, driven by the fact that DVD sales account for over 50% of studio revenue, and also that box office revenues continue to be stagnant to declining.

With surging adoption of larger monitors and HDTV flat-screen displays, consumers are now more eager than ever to get the latest entertainment and enjoy it in their living rooms, often at the expense of going to the theater.  This desire, in part, has led to a thriving online piracy movement, where pirated versions of major films are available for illegal download the same day (or even sometimes before) they reach movie theaters.  Clearly, the global consumer demand is there for "same day and date" digital and theatrical release.

Well, today marked a somewhat important milestone in this arena.  While not one of the major US studios, the largest movie studio in India's Bollywood, Rajshri, has just broken the logjam by releasing their new blockbuster film, Vivah, online for rental and in theaters on the same day.  Using Brightcove, they were able to rapidly and easily setup a pay media service for consumers to easily rent and download the film in DVD quality format.

What this release also anticipates and responds to is the inherent global nature of digital distribution -- with the Hollywood Studio system, not only are release windows bound by theatrical, DVD and broadcast windows, they are tightly bound to geographic releases.  On the Internet, a release can be a simultaneous global event.  Forward thinking studios like Rajshri recognize that their audience is global (in fact, the UK and US Indian expat population is enormous, and an enormous opportunity for immediate distribution), and are also breaking down the geographic restrictions that have constrained consumer access to entertainment.