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German Theaters Want to Curb Herbie

Major theater chains in Germany have threatened to not carry Buena Vista Internationals release of HERBIE: FULLY LOADED, because the company intends to release the DVD in December, reports VARIETY. Greater Union Filmpalast and Cinemaxx have both said they will not screen the film, because the Aug. 4 theatrical debut is only four not the typical six months away from the home entertainment release.

According to the National Assn. of Theater Owners, last year the average U.S. window between domestic theatrical and home entertainment releases was four months, 16 days, which is a full month shorter than the average in 2000.

In Germany, producers and distributors have been pushing for a shorter window in order to curb piracy and help DVDs profit by riding the coattails of the theatrical PR. However, theater owners have resisted this move because it hurts their profits.

"Any major changes should result in a system that is fair for everyone and allows theater owners to make a profit, rather than a one-sided solution for distributors," said Jan Oesterlin, Greater Union Filmpalast spokesman.

To solve the problem, BVI reportedly has said it would cut its rate from 53% to 50.4% of box office grosses in large theaters and 45.5% in smaller cinemas. However, Greater Union Filmpalast and Cinemaxx have not agreed to the deal. Other German exhibitors are still negotiating with BVI.

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