Rigid film release windows restrict flexibility, and make it harder for the sector to capture digital benefits, according to Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission. Kroes, who is responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, argues in a blog post that a one-size-fits all approach does not work for audiences, or for films. Different movie outlets, whether in the cinema, on TV, on DVD or online all have their own strengths and respond to different consumer needs.
“While some films might be better served by a first exclusive cinema release – like blockbusters with a big audience appeal”, she comments, “others may do better by going online earlier.” She goes on to say that the lower digital distribution costs “may especially suit low-budget, niche films.”
All parts of the film ecosystem should be able to experiment, she argues. However she also makes it clear that she does not wish to impose anything on the film industry. Her goal, she says, is to benefit everyone in the chain – filmmakers, cinemas and audiences – through encouraging the use of digital channels to the full.
According to Kroes, a more flexible approach would boost revenues, and bring European films to wider audience. And she poses a pointed question to underline her argument: “how many of the 915 European feature films made in 2011 did you see; and how many were you able to see?”