May 14, 2022

The pandemic has changed the way we watch movies and it’s not coming back anytime soon – Marseille News

The arrival of No Time To Die in two weeks looks like a milestone in the continuous flow state of film distribution. The latest James Bond isn’t the first of 2020’s delayed blockbusters to finally hit screens – F9: The Fast Saga, Black Widow, Jungle Cruise, and A Quiet Place: Part 2 have all finally hit theaters this year. But with an original release date of April 2020, No Time To Die was one of the first films to be delayed, and the 18 months between that date and its final US debut on October 8 will be the longest. waiting for a major movie in the COVID era. It’s also a period that has seen previously unthinkable changes in the way Hollywood distributes films and how audiences consume them.

A year ago, GameSpot published this article, which followed the events of 2020 so far and made predictions about what would happen next. At this point, there were still several big movies lined up for theatrical releases in the last three months of the year. In the end, none of these came as planned – Wonder Woman 1984 debuted on HBO Max alongside the theaters that managed to stay open over Christmas, while Soul was sent straight to streaming. Free Guy was pushed deep in 2021, and Coming 2 America was sold to Amazon and released months later. Without a vaccine at this point and a second (or third) wave of COVID-19 about to hit many countries, the future looked as unpredictable as at any stage of the pandemic.

In early December, Warner drew a line in the sand with the shocking announcement that he would send every movie on his 2021 slate to HBO Max on the same day they hit theaters. It wasn’t just the films expected in the coming months, such as Wonder Woman 1984, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Mortal Kombat. These were also highly anticipated films that weren’t expected until late 2021 – such as Dune and The Matrix Resurrections – when the world could perhaps be a very different place.

It’s hard to overstate how dramatic this decision was. A few months earlier, AMC had engaged in a public feud with Universal over the latter’s decision to stream Trolls: World Tour, and now another studio’s entire multi-million dollar list would go down. digital for an entire year. The fallout has been considerable. Christopher Nolan condemned the move and ultimately left Warner after 20 years, while 1984 Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins were reportedly paid $ 10 million each to make up for the loss of a large theatrical release. Nonetheless, Warner did not back down on his plan, and every movie he released in 2021 was made available to HBO Max subscribers the same day they hit theaters.

While no other studio has gone this far, it was clear that the days of long theatrical windows were over. The pandemic has coincided with a time when studios are battling to gain subscribers for their streaming platforms, and the allure of huge movies to generate subscriptions has proven to be overwhelming.

Each studio took a slightly different approach. Disney created the Disney + “Premier Access” tier for some movies, including Black Widow, Jungle Cruise, and Cruella, while putting Pixar’s Soul and Luca on the standard subscriber version. Paramount has announced that its biggest theatrical releases – such as Top Gun: Maverick – will head to Paramount + after just 45 days on the big screen, while its sci-fi thriller Mark Wahlberg Infinite has completely skipped theaters and made its debut on the service.

Universal also took a mixed approach, keeping huge movies like F9 for theaters only, but making next month’s Paw Patrol: The Movie and Halloween Kills available on Peacock the day they hit theaters. The only major studio without a streaming platform – Sony – has sold some of its more family-friendly films to Netflix (Mitchells vs The Machines) and Amazon (Hotel Transylvania: Transformania), while keeping the theatrical model for the big hitters like the upcoming Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Movie chains have been largely powerless to stop this drastic shift from a release model they have controlled for decades. For all the support the “theatrical experience” received from filmmakers like Jenkins and Jason Reitman at the recent CinemaCon – a convention for movie owners – no one really expects the company to go back to the way it was. in 2019. Studios – – and more importantly, their shareholders – are desperate to carve out their own space in the increasingly crowded and competitive streaming arena. Originals made for streaming are all great, but it’s those high-profile films that would normally have enjoyed long theatrical releases that will keep audiences from canceling their subscriptions.

But while it’s easy to see why studios want to increase subscriber numbers with high-profile films, it’s hard to know exactly where the economy is. Unsurprisingly, few 2021 films have come close to the box office results we expected two years ago, and based on those numbers alone, very few will have broken even, let alone profits. But of course, that’s only part of the story.

Studios are extremely reluctant to release streaming and subscription numbers unless they’re spectacularly good (like Disney did with Black Widow), but it’s not hard to imagine that the budgets of production will have to drop for some films. Does spending, say, $ 175 million to $ 200 million on movies like The Suicide Squad or Jungle Cruise make sense in a world where audiences know they might just have to wait a month and half to watch it at home? Will a movie make $ 1 billion again at the global box office? ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish recently made it clear that producing content for Paramount + is a top priority for the company and that even the biggest movies will hit the service after just 45 days in theaters. Such a short window would have sparked outrage and boycott from movie chains two years ago – now it’s about as good as they can hope for.

The other problem – and the cost – that studios now potentially face is keeping talent happy. The fallout from Warner’s decision on HBO Max was very public, and Scarlett Johansson’s July lawsuit against Disney was even more dramatic. Johansson alleges that Disney’s decision to make Black Widow a Premier Access title drastically reduced his expected earnings and severed his contract, resulting in a surprisingly personal and widely condemned response. But despite Disney’s initially antagonistic tone, it’s pretty clear that studios will need to consider alternative compensation for stars and filmmakers if box office revenue continues to be affected by streaming. Emma Stone subsequently signed a deal with Disney for a sequel to Cruella that would take this into account, while Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently acknowledged that “the world is changing and upcoming talent deals will need to reflect the fact that the world is changing. ”

But despite all of these changes, studios still view the theater experience as an essential part of their business model. Paramount has pushed Top Gun Maverick to 2022 over fears that the booming Delta variant will affect its potentially massive box office participation (which will be needed to cover its huge budget). Conversely, the surprisingly good results for Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings encouraged Sony to push Venom: Let There Be Carnage forward for several weeks until early October. Despite this difference in approach, the two studios believe that a theatrical release was still by far the best option for these high-profile films.

There are obviously still a lot of questions about what 2022 will bring. We know that Warner will once again revert to a movie-only model, with an HBO Max release after a 45-day window. Likewise, the future of the Disney + Premier Access model is in question. Disney has already committed to a theatrical release only for its remaining six 2021 films, including Eternals and The King’s Man, with a standard Disney + release after – you guessed it – 45 days later. The huge drop in box office revenue for Black Widow compared to the movie-only Shang-Chi was undeniable, and the short window seems, at first glance, to be the best compromise between making money, adding streaming subscribers. and keep the talent and theater partners happy.

But this is Hollywood in an ongoing pandemic and if the past 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that predicting the future is a fool’s game. Everything has changed – and it continues to change. See you in 12 months.