Hollywood was not built for a year without cinemas

Hollywood scheduling always runs like a finely tuned watch: a delicate dance of release dates because studios largely make the most of the money to avoid blockbusters, meeting the shifting demands of film editing, rehab, and special effects work. Let’s try to adapt movies.

But cinematic shuttering by the epidemic threw everyone into disarray, forcing the studio to move release dates into a chaotic cascade. Each change has a ripple effect due to that strict schedule: when a massive superhero film dates ahead, it falls down the line, forcing films both within the studio and from competitors And to avoid splitting their audiences away from their dates (and occupy the box office.).

Small delays turned into big ones; The films by 2020 lasted until 2021. And yet, in all the uncertainties, it seemed that studios were extremely reluctant to sound like an obvious solution: simply releasing their biggest movies on any newly created streaming services or digital video storefronts in lieu of a theatrical release. The current model of Hollywood was not built just to survive without cinemas.

Photo: film frame / Marvel Studios

There is a simple explanation for Hollywood’s hesitation to embrace streaming: theaters are where the money is, and streaming – at least in today’s world – cannot match that revenue.

Traditional theater chains such as AMC and Regal Cinema still show immense power over the current film landscape. The amount of money they bring to the studio is good enough that companies like Disney and Warner Bros. are willing to go for close to half of their revenue (theaters typically hold about 45 percent of the box office).

When Universal started thinking about the idea of ​​releasing some of its films to theaters as well, AMC CEO Adam Aron threatened to not play any of his films, approaching Total War gone. The two companies have since reached a new deal to debut streaming movies for Universal Films, 17 days after making theatrical debut – an unprecedented deadline for major films – in exchange for AMC cutting digital tech .

It also has the reputation of being a “theatrical” film, requiring eligibility for major awards such as the Oscars. For years, companies like Netflix and Amazon are still trying to get out of the reputation that streaming is somehow a lesser form of entertainment. Short films have performed well in chaos – some, like Troll: World Tour, Defying expectations as well. But barring a few notable exceptions, major studios are unwilling to risk their billions of dollars of films on the unsecured market of direct-to-consumer sales or streaming.

Because it’s true: Today’s biggest blockbuster like last year – rake in more Avengers: Endgame, Which rocketed through all-time box office records and made an astronomical $ 2.79 billion. But these large-scale films also reduce the cost of water with them: Endgame The production budget is estimated to have cost around $ 400 million, multimillion-dollar salaries for stars such as Robert Downey Jr. and mass marketing campaigns.

But cinematic shuttering has effectively frozen the entire business in stasis as studios struggle to figure out what to do with their multimillion-dollar investment, which now has no clear strategy.

Photo by Melinda Hsu Gordon

Take Warner Bros. itself. ‘ theory, for example. The blockbuster Christopher Nolan film was considered one of the studio’s biggest films of the year, an event that – in a normal world – brought huge crowds to theaters and was estimated to rake in $ 1 billion at the box office.

Instead, theory Facing severe limitations of COVID, it was delayed, delayed, and delayed again before finally attempting to release it. But even then, the ability of the theater (and therefore, ticket prices) was cut off by a portion of their usual number for security purposes, with some of the largest theater marketplaces in the world, such as New York City or Los Angeles, ever making it Didn’t see it on the big screen at all.

The results are staggering: while theory Having grossed a respectable $ 300 million in international markets, it has made just $ 57 million in the US – a drastically reduced, estimated $ 205 million production budget that Warner Bros. invested in the film (a figure in which the film Also does not include marketing expenses).

With such results, it is no surprise that the biggest films of 2020 have chosen to punt on their releases and reschedule to 2021 and beyond. When millions of dollars are gambled upon a release, the studio cannot risk another dramatic flop in the United States from the 2020 anemia audience.

But taking stock of films is not the answer either. Each of these films is an investment of tens, if not hundreds of million dollars, that studios need to recap at least at some point and theaters need to be open. This is a delicate balance: the film industry needs money in the short term to survive, but it is also designed to run on hundreds of millions in revenue, which the theatrical release in 2020 just isn’t able to provide .

The model is already changing, and studios and theaters alike are beginning to experiment with new ways of doing things.

Disney shifted the release of major films Hamilton And inner heart For Disney Plus, and it is experimenting with a new premiere access to release larger films for higher digital price tags rather than traditional theatrical releases. However, it is unclear how good (or bad) the live action is. Mulan Actually did in terms of revenue for the company.

Warner Bros. has learned from its deficiency theory Trying a different approach to both strategy and highly anticipated Wonder Woman 1984 And Every 2021 movie. Starting in December, and going through the end of 2021, Warner Bros. will release its films in theaters (where possible) and the company’s streaming service HBO Max. This is a move that would theoretically give studios the best chance of both worlds, capitalizing on the high ticket revenue of traditional theaters while it still may not reach audiences, or simply will not, during an epidemic. Can go to the theater.

All of these approaches are still largely untapped, mainly because of the huge risk involved: Nobody wanted to gamble their possible billion-dollar film, at least not until absolutely necessary. And it is unclear whether any of them will be able to produce results equal to traditional theater. In 2019, the global box office hit an astonishing $ 42.5 billion worldwide – big shoes that these new methods have to fill.

Shows in 2020 were not designed for a world without Hollywood theaters. But 2021 can give us the first glimpse into the world of films that extends far beyond the walls of a traditional movie theater. But one thing is sure: Although we watch future films, it will look very different from the last century of the film.

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