Yesterday Summit Entertainment announced a new strategy in the ever-changing landscape of home entertainment by opting to release Source Code on VOD two weeks prior to it hitting shelves on DVD and Blu-ray. Traditionally movies hit VOD on the same day (or later) as DVD/Blu-ray, but Summit is using this to "test the demand for viewing a bigger budgeted film digitally prior to the release of physical discs."
The press release goes on to say that they're not shortening the release window -- they just want to "find the best way to present" their films digitally -- but one piece of information is missing, namely how much will it cost the consumer to watch Source Code two weeks early on VOD? You'll notice that number is nowhere to be found, nor does the press release state that consumers will be able to watch the film at the usual VOD prices (by me those are $4.95 and $6.95 for some day-and-date independent films that hit theaters at the same time as VOD). So how much, exactly, will this cost us?
Well, chances are it won't cost you any additional money to watch Source Code on VOD two weeks early, and if the price does go up it will be because your carrier decided to jack it up, not the studio. Summit is not raising the wholesale cost of the film, and this is not considered part of the Premium VOD model that some other studios are currently testing. That said, it's hard to imagine getting a product earlier than intended and not having to pay more for it. Unfortunately that's just not how this world works, so it'll be interesting to see if, in fact, Source Code quietly arrives on VOD at a higher price minus the press release that goes along with that.
If it arrives at the same price as every other new release, then consumers won't really notice it. While they're flipping through their VOD, they'll just assume Source Code arrived when it was supposed to arrive. If the price is slightly higher, then you may get people who want to know why it's higher, and that could help kick-start a new trend of movies that hit VOD before DVD/Blu-ray for slightly higher prices (I'd suggest raising it by one dollar). Maybe call the VOD section something like Advanced Screenings. If that did become a trend -- and it didn't upset theaters because we're only talking about a couple of weeks earlier and not a couple of months -- then that trend could create enough buzz to impact the marketplace, depending on the films being released early and how they're being promoted via each VOD provider.
People like to know they're seeing something earlier than they should be seeing it, and if Summit can find a way to play to those strengths without upsetting the consumer with high prices or the theaters with a shortened release window, then this could be a happy medium for the time being.
Your thoughts? Does the arrival of Source Code on VOD two weeks prior to DVD/Blu-ray mean anything at all to you?