Hollywood studios struggle with release dates on DVD and digital downloads

For consumers already confused about when a movie goes on sale on DVD and Blu-ray versus its availability on video on demand, digital download, Netflix and Redbox rental and Netflix online streaming, life could get even more complicated.

On Tuesday at Blu-Con, a conference focused on the Blu-ray market, the presidents of home entertainment from five studios -- 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. -- gathered for a panel to discuss the state of their businesses.The Beverly Hills conference comes as studios are searching for new ways to boost revenue in the face of a slowly shrinking DVD market in which consumers are increasingly opting for inexpensive rentals instead of higher-priced purchases. Blu-ray sales and digital downloads are not growing enough to make up the difference.

The executives said the biggest issue they face is sorting through a proliferating array of distribution platforms and figuring out when and where to release their movies and at what price in order to maximize profits. Such staggered release strategies are known in Hollywood parlance as "windows."

"The most difficult conversations and the biggest meetings I have been involved in at the studio have been on this subject," said Universal's Craig Kornblau.

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Film Business, Hollywood


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