How Long Does it Take a DVD to Be Released to Stores?
By James Red
Updated September 22, 2017
While there are exceptions, most DVDs come out about three to four months after the movie's theatrical release. In the past, the window between theatrical release and a home video release was much longer.
In the early days of home video on VHS tape, the window between a movie's theatrical release and its home video release was usually at least six months. When the movies were released on video, they were not made available to the general public. Instead, they were sold to video rental stores, with each individual tape costing about $100. It could sometimes take years for a movie to be available to the general public for purchase. In some cases, the videos were never released to the public, and either stayed at rental pricing or went out of production.
DVDs are easier and cheaper to produce than VHS tapes, and their introduction to the home video market changed the way companies sold movies to the general public. Instead of pricing them for rental stores, they began pricing them to buy, usually between $15-30. Now, rental services are being denied new releases, with services like Netflix and Redbox having to wait longer to get copies of new DVDs. Studios enforce this practice as a way to increase sales to general consumers. They believe that if a person cannot rent a movie, they will buy it.
Today, most movies are released on DVD 16 to 12 weeks after their theatrical premiere, but this is not a steadfast rule. If a movie is doing exceptionally well in theaters, the DVD release may be delayed, and if it bombs, the release may be pushed up. Independent movies, which usually open in a few theaters before expanding slowly across the country, usually have longer windows between their theatrical release and their release on DVD. Other factors, such as Academy Award nominations or a crowded release schedule can affect the release of a DVD.
Residing in Pittsburgh, Pa., James Red has been a writer for over 10 years. He has work appearing in various magazines, newsweeklies and popular websites including "Wizard Magazine," "Big Shot" and Bullz-eye.com. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Point Park University and another in film studies from Bowling Green State University.