Lionsgate Said to Plan Early but Affordable TV Rental for Tyler Lautner's 'Abduction'

Studio Will Test $6.99 Charge Instead of Rivals' $29.99 Fee

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Lionsgate Entertainment will offer the Taylor Lautner film "Abduction" on pay TV three months after its theatrical release for as little as $6.99, according to people familiar with the plan, undercutting rivals' prices.

The film, scheduled for release in theaters on Sept. 23, will be offered through video-on-demand for about 10 days beginning on Dec. 23, said those people, who spoke anonymously because the plan hasn't been made public. The DVD release is set for January, one said.

"Abduction," with the "Twilight" actor in the lead, will be Vancouver-based Lionsgate's first test of so-called premium video-on-demand. Studios are experimenting with the earlier release of movies in an attempt to make up for declining DVD sales and rentals.


Lionsgate's planned 91-day window is seen as a compromise from the 60-day plan, announced by four studios in the first quarter, that sparked protests from theater operators and filmmakers, including "Avatar" director James Cameron.

Sales and rentals of home videos fell 3.6% to $3.99 billion in the second quarter, according to the Digital Entertainment Group, a home-entertainment-industry trade group. Packaged discs, a category that includes DVDs and Blu-ray, fell 16%, the group said. A separate break-out for DVDs alone wasn't provided.

Lionsgate will offer "Abduction" for $6.99 in standard definition and $7.99 in high-definition formats, one of the people familiar with the situation said. The studio plans to make the movie available to all VOD providers, as well as to web-based operations of retailers, including Walmart and Best Buy.

Peter Wilkes, a Lionsgate spokesman, declined to comment on the company's VOD plans.

Time Warner 's Warner Bros., Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures, Comcast's Universal Pictures and News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox agreed in March to release some films in six to eight weeks after the theatrical release through DirecTV's Home Premiere service, but to charge $29.99 for them. The first film in their premium VOD plan, Sony's "Just Go With It," was available on VOD April 21, about 10 weeks after its theatrical release. Typically, films are released in home-video formats four months after they open in theaters.

Opponents, primarily the big movie theater chains, have said that a 60-day period threatened to reduce movie ticket sales because some consumers might wait to watch a movie at home rather than go to the theater.

-- Bloomberg News --

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