Are we going to be the generation that sees the end of movie theatres?
It's no secret that movie theatres have been struggling in the past years, with the advent of streaming platforms and with the combination of cheap huge flat screen tv's and sound systems, it's becoming more and more difficult to attract people to pay an average $20 per person for a ticket and popcorn to watch a movie. When cheaper and more convenient alternatives are available.
If one thinks about it, the whole idea of packing people into a hall to watch something comes from theatre ergo the name "Movie Theatre". But now there are less and less reasons for someone to pick themselves up and go watch a movie. Sure it's a great collective experience but it could turn out to become an outdated model just like movie rentals. People tend to remember fondly the time they were at blockbuster on a Friday afternoon looking for the movies they'd watch during the weekend more than the actual movies they watched! But here we are, our generation saw the extinction of vhs/dvd rentals!
So why should movie theatres be any different? I'm sure what directors, actors and studios want more than anything is as much eyes as possible seeing their film. Sure ticket sales are a huge source of income for studios to recoup their expenses when they made the movie, but it seems that people are slowly showing them where to look into to invest for their returns...and it's certainly not the movie theatres.
I'm sure the romantic in us will look for a multitude of excuses to explain why movie theatres should continue to exist, and I'm certainly one of them, but we have to start looking at the harsh reality of what technology is going to bring in the future...and it certainly doesn't include movie theatres.
Certainly movies and tv shows produced by streaming platforms are good, in fact alot of them are just as good and have the same production value as movies that were meant to be shown at movie theatres.
We are already seeing original movies produced by Netflix winning Oscars. Which only played on movie theatres just to cover a requirement set by the Academy. So essentially what we are hearing is that Roma for example is not an oscar-worthy movie unless it's played in a movie theatre. That's what Netflix did, they played it just to cover the minimum requirement! If you ask me it seems more like a money-making rule than actually awarding a movie for it's artistic merit and it's contribution to the world of cinema!
I always knew that this was where we were headed to....but the black swan event of the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this to a point where we can actually start saying that we could be the first generation since June 19, 1905, when the Nickelodeon opened in Pittsburgh the first ever movie theatre, that will see their extinction.
Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based National Employment Law Project, was quoted in Variety as saying, “We’re seeing it now because of the pandemic in the restaurant world, in the industrial janitorial world, in parking garages, and all these areas that have been completely disrupted by COVID-19.”
Film and television are no different. They now have to pivot into a great unknown and have no idea how many people it will take to accomplish the goal of "creating a new way."
That new way is pivoting the industry toward streaming. Streaming is a smart way to get entertainment directly into people's homes. But how many people does it take to effectively run a streaming company? Or to develop content for streamers?
This is being figured in real-time.
This is to no-one's fault but of Hollywood's, for their homeostasis attitude as far as technological progress that caused massive cultural shifts. The same shifts that killed record stores, the same shift that killed movie rentals...and it will probably be the same shift that will kill movie theatres. But Hollywood refused to future-proof its industry until it had to.
The focus is going toward streaming, but it will not be smooth. Tentpoles are still seen as viable ways to make a lot of money. But looking at how HBO Max was willing to shift a movie like Wonder Woman 1984, which they could rightfully assume might make $1 billion dollars, into a play to attract more people to their platform, we have to recalibrate.
That recalibration means job openings, but no one really knows how many. And we don't know how much content these streamers can support and still make money. Will people watch 52 movies a year if they release them? More?
Perhaps Disney+ had the right idea to charge their already paying subscribers to watch the live action remake for Mulan. Disney+ subscribers had to pay an additional, one-time fee of $29.99 in exchange for premiere access to watch the film, which permanently adds Mulan to their streaming library. Disney+ initially saw a 68% increase in subscriptions, and subscribers spending increased by 193% due to the premiere access fee. Mulan made a total of $35.5 million on its opening weekend from Disney+ subscribers. Since the movie wasn't released in theaters, the $35.5 million is entirely net profit for Disney, who didn't have to pay any distribution fees by hosting it on their streaming service.
Mulan was not the first high-profile movie to have its theatrical release moved to Disney+, but it was the first one that required an additional fee. Although Mulan will be available for free in December 2020, it still made the studio $35.5 million in net profits. While the disappointing Chinese box office was another hit to Mulan, its success on Disney+ proved that Disney was right to shift the premiere to the streaming service. Mulan's success could be a disaster for cinemas if more studios will follow suit, foregoing the traditional theatrical distribution model in favor of releasing films exclusively on streaming. While it didn't do as well as the Disney remakes with a proper theatrical release, Disney+ still had a massive success with Mulan.
If I could make a prediction, my answer will be yes! Our generation will be the first one in 115 years that will see the end of movie theatres. Films will be delivered on different platforms and who knows perhaps the next Avengers movie will be premiered on a streaming platform. It makes sense now!