Jeffrey Katzenberg Predicts That Future Moviegoers Will “Pay By The Inch”

The DreamWorks Animation chief says that within 10 years, films will have only a three-week theatrical window before being available everywhere for fees based on screen size.

Jeffrey Katzenberg Predicts That Future Moviegoers Will “Pay By The Inch”
[Image: Flickr user Hobvias Sudoneighm]

Jeffrey Katzenberg has an intriguing prediction for the future of film distribution. The DreamWorks Animation chief says that within 10 years, movies will only get three weekends in the theater, and then will be available everywhere, at which point viewers will pay based on the size of the screen they watch it on.


Variety reports that Katzenberg laid out his idea for the new model during the Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Corporate World panel at the Milken Global Conference in Beverly Hills on Monday. The focus of the panel was the importance of business model flexibility in the face of new technologies and markets.

“A movie will come out and you will have 17 days [of theatrical exclusivity], that’s exactly three weekends, which is 95% of the revenue for 98% of movies,” said Katzenberg. “On the 18th day, these movies will be available everywhere ubiquitously and you will pay for the size. A movie screen will be $15. A 75″ TV will be $4.00. A smartphone will be $1.99. When that happens, and it will happen, it will reinvent the enterprise of movies.”

Given the rapidly growing use of smaller screens to consume media, a reduced theatrical window makes sense to allow for multi-platform distribution. The “pay by the inch you watch” element, however, is a little more left-field. Right now, services that offer the same media on multiple screens, such as Netflix and iTunes, charge by flat subscription or single purchase price, regardless of screen size. It seems that there would have to be some gradual shift in these business models to change consumer expectations of the cost of multi-platform delivery.

Later in the panel, Katzenberg also challenged the idea that young people should follow passions rather than skill.

“Great leaders and thinkers talk to kids today and say ‘follow your dream.’ I’m not sure that’s a great idea,” he said. “How about follow your skill? That thing you are really good at, that may become your passion.”

About the author

Evie Nagy is a former staff writer at, where she wrote features and news with a focus on culture and creativity. She was previously an editor at Billboard and Rolling Stone, and has written about music, business and culture for a variety of publications.