Studio and theater owners who wonder what would happen to sales if movies are rushed to home video should keep an eye on what’s happening in China. Warner Bros has begun an experiment to stay ahead of DVD pirates by putting films on the You On Demand VOD cable platform as early as four weeks after they first appear in theaters in the U.S. YOD is talking with its other studio partners — including Disney, Paramount, NBCUniversal, and Lionsgate — about following suit. It formally launched in the country this past Monday, following a lengthy period of beta tests. And it began to promote the quick availability of films this week as it launched its first marketing campaign, targeting the Chinese New Year which will be celebrated on February 10 and 11. Warner Bros provided Argo to the platform on November 28, and Gangster Squad joined the line up on Monday. Piracy is a huge problem for non-Chinese studios opening movies there; the government only allows 34 foreign films into theaters each year. The VOD service has agreements that will put it into 18.2M homes, and is aiming to have 30M by year end. YOD is run by Shane McMahon, a former World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler and exec, and the son of that company’s CEO Vince McMahon and two-time Connecticut GOP Senate candidate Linda McMahon. YOD shares trade on NASDAQ and have lost nearly 80% of their value over the last 12 months as the company invested in services ahead of the launch.
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