Divisive discussion on day-and-date releases
by Birgit Heidsiek
- CANNES 2014: The experiences with EU-supported simultaneous multi-platform releases have had a mixed reception by various industry members
At the Cannes Film Festival, the European Parliament and the European Commission presented an analysis of their experiments with the simultaneous multi-platform releases of nine films in 15 territories, which have taken place over the course of a year. Xavier Troussard, head of unit for Creative Europe, opened the discussion with the question of what can be learned from those experiments. In view of the spreading of VoD platforms such as Netflix in several European countries, there is consent in the industry that these new players will change the distribution market. However, there are opposing opinions about how Europeans should deal with the new challenges.
“It hurts the distributors when the DVD prices go down,” said Raymond Walravens, director of Rialto Cinema in Amsterdam. The day-and-date release might also put cinemas that make money out of business. Meanwhile, Philip Knatchbull, CEO of Curzon World, who participated in this preparatory action, releases as many films as possible using the day-and-date release method. “Certain films deserve a smaller window. The key is finding a way to maintain flexibility and to keep control. We have to give the customers what they want, when they want.”
“There is no business model for day-and-date,” argued Nico Simon, CEO of the Utopia Group of Cinemas and president of Europa Cinemas, who criticised the fact that the exhibitors were not involved in the preparatory action. “I am optimistic about giving films a new form of life,” stated Thierry Lounas, who was there representing the Syndicat des Distributeurs Indépendants in France. “We have to find an economic model.”
“The release of nine films in 15 countries only generated about 15,000 admissions. One film had no more than 27 cinemagoers,” emphasised Torsten Frehse, who spoke on behalf of independent distributors in Germany. “I hope this experiment won't be the basis for any future political decisions. This is the wrong way to go about it.”
“The films can't be refinanced if the revenue numbers are marginal like this,” added Jan Runge, spokesman for the European exhibitors' association UNIC – the International Union of Cinemas. The Commission should trust the industry about where and when to release films. “We discuss the techniques too much; we have to talk more about the content,” contributed AG Kino chairman Christian Bräuer. Lastly, summing up, Detlef Rossmann, president of CICAE, said, “In this discussion, the films are treated only as a product; but a film is a cultural object.”