Back in the 1980’s, video store proprieters referred to the amount of time between when a huge hit such as “Rambo” or “Beverly Hills Cop” debuted in the movie theatres and the time when a person could enjoy the same piece of entertainment at home. Typically this window was between several months and a year, depending on how big of a hit the movie was. The flipside of this, of course, were those films that the studios deemed to be huge turkeys, and didn’t even bother to put in the theatres: the much-derided “straight-to-video,” which was code for “this movie sucks.”
Over the past two decades, that has all changed for several reasons: things like the video & DVD revenues making hits of films that failed in the theatres; the splintering of the mass audience into a zillion different pieces; the rise of digital media and distribution have all contributed to lessen the equation that theatre release means quality in the mind of the public.
So that window kept rolling up: a year became six months became 3 months becomes simultaneous. At the end of this month, a film from a major director — Steven Soderbergh — will be simultaneously released in theatres, DVD and HDTV. On purpose, as a marketing strategy, with no comment implied on the quality of the film itself. This is a quantum leap, even if the movie tanks or sucks (and it’s one of his more experimental films, so we’ll see), the idea itself of the release window is antiquated in a world where you can have everything when you want it.
And if it even remotely succeeds, we will be able to add downloading to that simultaneous release schedule very very soon.