CATEGORIES Movie News
'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' is still in theaters, so exhibitors are in a stew over Sony's decision to release the animated feature for early rental to owners of Sony-branded digital devices, thus violating the sacred (to theater owners) four-month window between theatrical and home release.

This follows the outcry over Paramount's decision to release 'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra' on DVD only 88 days after its theatrical debut. Paramount claimed the move was an "anomaly," designed to position the film for holiday shoppers. 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' is still in theaters, so exhibitors are in a stew over Sony's decision to release the animated feature for early rental to owners of Sony-branded digital devices, thus violating the sacred (to theater owners) four-month window between theatrical and home release.

This follows the outcry over Paramount's decision to release 'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra' on DVD only 88 days after its theatrical debut. Paramount claimed the move was an "anomaly," designed to position the film for holiday shoppers.

But now the collapsing window is looking like a trend: Owners of Sony-branded Bravia TVs and the latest generation of networked Sony Blu-ray players will be able to rent 'Meatballs' nearly a month earlier than the Jan. 4 date set for the DVD and Blu-ray discs, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Last year, Sony also set an early digital release for 'Hancock,' but exhibitors were less upset by what was then a three-and-a-half month window. However, the early release for 'Meatballs' will have a definite impact on its theatrical run: At least four major theater chains -- Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark and Marcus Theatres -- are prepared to pull the film from its screens. Last weekend, the film, which has grossed $121 million, was in 1,126 theaters, but because of the protest, could play in as few as 300.

While that definitely stings for the film's box-office haul, the high price of digital viewing (a ludicrous $24.95) far exceeds what it costs to see it in theaters -- assuming it's still playing anywhere near you.