News that Sony's remake of The Karate Kid, which hit retail shelves on October 5, won't be available from Netflix until November 2 suggests the studio is moving toward establishing a sell-through window. The decision to protect a 28-day retail window, at least so far, is being made on a title-by-title basis. Of the seven other movies slated for release by Sony in September and October, none are being held back from Netflix. But popular family films traditionally have been the biggest sell-through successes on video; with The Karate Kid bringing in over $175m at the box office, it makes sense for Sony to try and maximize disc sales.
There have been competing camps on windows since the middle of last year, when the major studios split on the issue of providing day-and-date discs to rental kiosks. The studios that cut deals for 28-day windows with Redbox and Netflix have argued that the rental hold-back is delivering improved sales, while the non-windowing studios are claiming that the difference, if there is any, is marginal. Some of these differences reflect different underlying studio strategies: those studios that have cut back their release slates to focus on fewer but bigger films are likely to see more of an impact than studios that intentionally produce and license for distribution a broad slate of titles, many of which are destined for the rental market and not expected to sell millions of copies at retail.
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