Today was the first day of ShoWest, the annual convention on cinema exhibition and distribution held in Las Vegas, and while I was expecting to see some new strategies regarding the war on piracy, the first order of business focused instead on the European release-window debate. After witnessing the bold threats and actions of cinemas in Germany and in the UK, I should have known this would be a hot topic this year. The concerns with shrinking windows between theatrical release and video release is not solely European, though. Now it has become a main concentration of the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), which is like the global version of our own National Association of Theatre Owners.

UNIC president Ad Westrate says foreign cinemas are currently pushing for legislation against the shrinking of release windows by Hollywood studios and their international distributors. France already has such a law, where the window is set at six months. The cinemas of other countries are hoping that law will serve as the model for other nations. Hollywood will be fighting hard against such legislation, of course, and it is likely to continue blaming piracy as the motive. Paramount Pictures International president Andrew Cripps insisted today that there can't be such limits because of the changing demands of the marketplace.