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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Studios back DVD release rethink
Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The second Harry Potter film was one of the movies mentioned
Hollywood executives think DVDs should be released quicker to combat the growing threat of piracy, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

And they predict that the day may not be far off when some major films are available on DVD at the same time as their theatrical release.

"Your premiere may be at Wal-Mart," said Barry Meyer, chairman and chief executive of Warner Bros Entertainment.

In some territories movies make more money on DVD than in cinemas, he added.

"Right now theatrical is the main way we set values in these movies, and video is the first aftermarket," Mr Meyer said during a discussion held as part of the Milken Institute Global Conference on Wednesday.

"It might well be in certain territories it should be exactly the reverse - that theatrical is the added value."

The day you have a public performance of a movie, there will be a physical product on the streets within a few days
Barry Meyer, Warner Bros
Mr Meyer related how camcorder copies of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets were being sold outside a multiplex in Shanghai on the same day the film opened there.

"The day you have a public performance of a movie anywhere in the world, you can count on the fact there will be a physical product on the streets of Asia, Eastern Europe (and) Russia within a few days," he continued.

His sentiments were endorsed by Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Peter Chernin, chairman and CEO of the Fox Group.

Mr Lynton said many would-be filmgoers preferred to wait for titles to be released on DVD instead of spending more money to see them in cinemas.

"Where piracy tends to thrive is where the consumer perceives that goods and services are not convenient and price is out of whack," added Mr Chernin.

'Sophie's Choice'

According to the Hollywood Reporter, box office revenue in the US hit a record $9.5bn (4.9bn) last year.

However, that figure was dwarfed by the estimated $24.5 billion (12.7bn) in DVD and video rental and retail sales.

"If you force the industry to make a Sophie's Choice between theatrical and DVD and video, it's not a big question which way the industry will go," said Mr Chernin.

His comments refer to the 1982 film in which Meryl Streep's character is forced to surrender one of her two children to the Nazis.

The cost of DVDs was also debated, with Hilary Rosen - former chief executive of the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) - sounding a cautionary note.

"Fourteen bucks (7) might sound like a great price for a DVD, but with 30 million movies being downloaded a month it's not going to be that great a price," she said.

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