Week in Review: Theater chains reduce release window before VOD

The acclaim for jump scares is born

Every year the movies seem to be dying. The writing is on the wall with attendance numbers and box office receipts and the Golden Age of TV. Will people still go to the movies if they can now watch high quality, HD programming from their own home?

Theater chains themselves have been reluctant to give in to Netflix and VOD, but at the risk of being made obsolete entirely, two chains are doing an experiment suggesting they may be willing to play ball. THR reported this week that Paramount, AMC Theaters, and Cineplex have struck a deal regarding two of their upcoming films, the new Paranormal Activity movie, and Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, both October releases. Traditionally, movies are not available on VOD or digital release until three to four months after their initial run in theaters is over, which can be anywhere from a month to six weeks for genre movies. Now these two films will become available at the slightly earlier time of six weeks.

“Exhibition for the first time was open-minded about evolving our business instead of sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring what is happening around us,” Paramount vice chair Rob Moore told The Hollywood Reporter. “This is all about changing the definition of theatrical windows. Instead of starting the countdown from when a movie opens, we are starting from when it ends.”

It doesn’t seem like a major change just yet, but it could open the door to more titles having their release schedules tweaked, as well as more collaboration between studios and theaters.

One Minion toy wasn’t as cute and adorable as the latest film would like you to believe. A disgruntled parent found a Minion toy at a McDonald’s and thought the squishy yellow pill creature’s garbled gibberish sounded an awful lot like the phrase “What the F—?” You be the judge, and check out Mashable for the slow-motion version.

Here at Sound on Sight, we’re still mourning the loss of The Dissolve, my personal favorite film website to read and home to some of the best film critics on the web. On Wednesday, the film website “dissolved” just before its two-year anniversary. Editors Keith Phipps and Scott Tobias spoke to Criticwire’s and Dissolve contributor Sam Adams about what happened, and given their current situation, they were none too positive about the state of film criticism moving into the future:

Scott Tobias: To succeed financially in digital publishing, you need to attract an enormous readership, and it helps to have a wide range of culture coverage that appeals to the largest possible audience. But it’s a lamentable situation, because there’s no incentive to cover art that’s outside the mainstream. At The Dissolve, we would regularly publish features, reviews, and interviews that we knew few people would read, and we now have the metrics to know EXACTLY how few would read it. But we wanted to make sure that the films and the filmmakers we cared about would get the attention they deserved, and we trusted that we’d balance those losses with features that we knew would hit hard. To me, that’s good publishing. I feel like this need to have all hits all the time leaves too much great stuff in the dark. I don’t want a bunch of sites that have film coverage, but don’t bother with Cinema Guild or Oscilloscope or Drafthouse Films because they’re generalists rather than experts. We wanted our site to encourage cinephilia and encourage people to come along with us and take chances on seeing things they might not have seen (or been aware of) otherwise. I hate to think of a publishing world where the biggest movies of the day suck up all the oxygen…

Keith Phipps: I don’t know if there will soon be more than a handful of people who will be able to write about film as a full-time job, myself included. And that wasn’t even true of The Dissolve, for the most part. Most everyone there wore multiple hats, writing, editing, working on the CMS, recording the podcast. But, to get back to your original question, the economics of journalism in general and criticism in particular and film criticism especially don’t look great right now. When I was a kid, I just wanted to grow up to be Terry Lawson, film critic for my hometown paper, The Dayton Daily News. Here was a guy whose job was to go to movies and write about them in a clear, intelligent way for a general readership — and every town had a Terry Lawson (though few were as good as him). Those jobs don’t exist anymore, and the Internet hasn’t really created their equivalent, with a few great exceptions like Dana Stevens at Slate aside. There are plenty of terrific writers out there writing about film — we tried to feature as many of them as we could! — but a lot of them aren’t doing it full-time. And I worry that they’ll leave it when necessity demands it. Right now, I worry that necessity is demanding I leave it.

In casting news, J.K. Simmons is again teaming up with his Whiplash director Damien Chazelle for his next film, La La Land, which also stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Marisa Tomei is being approached to play Aunt May in the new standalone Spider-Man film starring Tom Holland. The seventh member of The Magnificent Seven remake is David KallawayMichael Kenneth Williams has joined the video game adaptation Assassin’s Creed. And Williams is also among the cast for Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters, which has additionally added SNL‘s Cecily Strong, Veep’s Matt Walsh, Andy Garcia, and SNL writer Neil Casey.

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