Metro Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Sony Pictures made a daring move this week creating a new distribution window for its recent James Bond blockbuster film, Skyfall. With the movie still nominally in theaters around the country, MGM and Sony made the movie available for streaming purchase for $14.99 through Digital HD (DHD).
With the purchase, the movie is available on TV, phone, tablet or laptop, which is a winning strategy we wrote about in CES 2013: The TV Manifesto earlier this week. By distributing the movie on multiple devices, MGM removes a layer of consumer friction. The early platform winners? Amazon, the Xbox 360, CinemaNow, iTunes, Vudu, Nintendo and Sony, all of whom have playback rights for the movie either through their own service or via an application such as Amazon Prime Video.
This movie release is early, too, ahead of the February 12 release date for the Blu-Ray and DVD discs. The DHD copy is $14.99, but the Blu-ray version is currently listed at $19.99 on Amazon.com. So by coming out with a lower price than the disc, and early access, the trade off is that MGM gets more “control” over the consumer, more data, a better link consumers and establishes a chance to establish a new consumer behavior and consumption pattern.
Who might be upset with this new window? For the Bond movies, MGM and Sony partnered with 20th Century Fox for home distribution. Neither Fox nor any of the major box office chains would likely be thrilled by digital distribution of a movie that is still in a few theaters, but the concern is likely marginal at this point.
One other note of interest—on the Fox digital page showing Skyfall (http://www.foxdigitalhd.com/skyfall/?utm_source=ESPN&utm_medium=banners&utm_campaign=Skyfall), there is a section about ‘Cloud Storage” which reads “With Skyfall in Digital HD and other movies you purchase are available online anytime, anywhere as they are safely stored in a digital cloud.” This line alone clearly shows the consumer that the concept of ownership means “in the clouds” and safely to the studios means consumers can’t easily “share” the content, or copy, or pirate. The movie asset has been “protected,” and likely allows the movie studios to sleep a little bit better at night.
Ed.note: Edited; Sony is co-financing and Fox is handling home distribution, not vice-versa as earlier posted.