Premium video on demand will be a reality “within the next six to 12 months,” 20th Century Fox Film CEO Stacey Snider told an investor group today. Conversations between studios and movie theater owners are “mature” and “starting to coalesce and build consensus,” she said at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference.
But they aren’t pulling the trigger just yet due to “factors beyond our control” including “companies undergoing changes,” she said.
Theater owners are wary about the idea of offering movies to home viewers in the 90-day window when they usually have new releases exclusively.
Although “the theatrical experience is critically important to our business,” Snider says, movie making is “the only business I can think of” that keeps its products “off the shelf for a long period of time.” Even after a new film has lost steam at the box office, “it’s ‘hold that thought. We’ll get back to you’.”
PVOD won’t affect theaters, Snider says, and will give studios an opportunity to “experiment, explore and find the sweet spot” for timing and pricing home video offerings.
“We’ll be able to test a theory” that there’s “a brand new consumer, not just an earlier home entertainment consumer,” the studio chief says. She wants to “capture people who just can’t get to the film but are keenly interested.”
But she’s unimpressed with MoviePass, the nearly $10-a-month service that gives subscribers opportunities to see theatrical movies as often as once a day.
“I don’t understand it,” she says. “It sounds like a wacky business model.” But it “does concern me” that the offer could lead consumers to see films as commodities, giving them sticker shock when they have to pay higher prices to see a single film.
Nonetheless, Snider says she has “bigger fish to fry.”
“There is not one single advantage that the FANG companies offer filmmakers,” she says. TV was different because they introduced the idea of binge watching. But “there’s nothing better about watching a film on Netflix or Amazon,” she says. “You can’t find them” in what she calls a “churn-like environment.”
In addition, “there’s nothing wonderful about having your upside opportunity commoditized and capped….For talent now, they will be wising up.”
Indeed, she says that she has “seen filmmakers come back around” to traditional studios. As for digital challenges, she says, “show me a campaign that gets me excited.”
She acknowledged though that audiences are getting tired of sequels. For the “depression in movie going not to become systemic, then it’s incumbent on everyone in the industry to think about how to become essential.”