The Fate of Movie TheatersHollywood finds itself in a battle: movie theaters vs. home viewing. The May 2008 edition of the All Media Revenue Report said that through 1980, 55% of total revenue for studios came from movie theaters. As of 2007, only 20% of total revenue comes from movie theaters. Over the last two decades the increase of DVDs, Blu-rays, pay-per-view, and cable channels amongst other outlets have decreased the movie enthusiast’s desire to see movies in the theater.

Typically movies experience a time lapse between their original appearances in the theater and when they are available on DVD and pay-per-view, shortly followed by TV channels that air the movie for free. In the beginning of 2000, this changed again when high DVD sales pushed studios (starting with Warner Bros.) to release DVD versions of the movies during high purchase times between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The window between theater and DVD release shortened to three-four months. With advertising on the internet, studios began announcing DVD releases of movies that were still in theaters and the window shrank again.

Through all of this, movie theaters faced dwindling numbers and raised concession stand prices higher to make up for the loss. They also began to shorten the run time of movies. Once again, the window shrank. It has stirred debate among members of the movie community that while DVD sales are up, the lack of press and movie views in theaters will crack Hollywood at its very foundation. They wonder if the window will exist at all in the future.

Hollywood is not the only contender in this debate. Japan has a growing amount of impact with companies like Sony and Matsuhita that emerged in the 1970s. Through innovative technology, they made video watching easy and accessible to home audiences. Even then Hollywood knew how dangerous this could be for their revenues and spent years in court trying to stop their sales in the U.S.

With the VCR came video rental stores and again Hollywood made changes. Instead of making films for theaters, they began making films for VHS. Action-packed scenes geared towards a younger audience took precedence while dialogue-driven films took a backseat.

The 1990s brought another change: with the invention of the DVD came fears of how Hollywood would adept to the digital age. Japanese companies were now part owners of major film studios like Warner Bros. With this power, they ensured that enough movies existed to place in a DVD format and sell to the at-home audience. Unlike VHS, DVDs were playable on multiple devices, such as gaming consoles and computers. The places to watch movies had spread.

DVD sales soared and stores everywhere cleared shelf-space for movies. Time Warner, Sony, Fox, Viacom, Disney, and Universal dominated the market. With the success of DVDs, original series (like The Sopranos and Mad Men) also found a market. DVDs furthered their appeal by offering interactive features.

In 2005, the paradigm shifted once more with the introduction of Blu-ray. Home video viewing quality increased and now TVs offered HD to increase the details in movie-watching. With other viewing options, like PlayStation, viewers were not only connected to the movie, but to the internet and gaming as well.