Theater owners puncture cable's VoD trial balloon

Cable and NATO are at war. Not that NATO. The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and its European counterparts are making it as clear as a sun-baked day in Montana that they will not tolerate earlier release of movies to VoD.

Cable operators led by Time Warner Cable have urged studios to move up the release of movies to VoD in an effort to get them onto their home screens while the theatrical buzz is still strong. In some cases, the earlier releases have literally stomped on traditional theatrical showings, making television a direct competitor with the neighborhood theater.

"We want to put an end to any more trial balloons of that sort," said NATO spokesman Patrick Corcoran.

To put things into an even clearer perspective, NATO bought full page ads in Hollywood trade publications stating: "Individual theater companies must and will make decisions about release-window changes in their own company's interest. Exhibitors cannot be blindsided by unusually short windows after they have already booked and begun playing a movie in their theaters."

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