The elephant in the world’s room at the moment is the coronavirus. The elephant in the theatrical world is the theatrical window.
Rather than delay indefinitely new movie releases, why not offer people in China the ability to stream movies at home (for a reasonable ticket price)?
I’ve been looking around for others suggesting this and it seems this idea is completely off the table. The more time that goes by that the theaters are closed, why can’t this be explored … at least temporarily?
Obviously, movies aren’t remotely important as protecting human lives, so our thoughts and prayers go out to anybody impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
We’re now going to see Hollywood getting hurt by China’s current theatrical shutdown, as the likes of Bad Boys For Life and Birds of Prey weren’t betting on a big Chinese payday. Even Dolittle was tracking for a $15 million debut when the coronavirus caused the theaters to shut down over what should have been a $1 billion-plus New Year’s weekend. Video game movies (Warcraft, Rampage, Ready Player One, etc.) have been big in China, and a continued blackout could be even more problematic for (much bigger-budgeted) Mulan and No Time to Die.Box Office: ‘Sonic’ Races Into Record Books With $68M Debut
Collateral damage of a much lesser concern will be box office performance depending on the Chinese market where many theaters are currently shutdown, but there are other ways to release new movies — streaming — than on the big screen.
Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey⭐️⭐️½ admittedly not the greatest movie (see: 30+ Birds of Prey Reviews – Doctor Robotnik vs. Harley Quinn, “Physical Disadvantages” and Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda), box office sales certainly are being impacted by the current theater closings in China.
I don’t understand why streaming options won’t at least be considered, given if a lot more time goes on without a vaccine being available. Yes, I realize this movie industry protects the theatrical window from streaming for 90 days or so because they believe that once that is violated, the movie theater industry will crumble.
Streaming at Home vs. The Movie Theater Experience
I don’t think it’s quite that dramatic at this point for a few simple reasons:
- Most people don’t have in-home theater quality TV and surround sound speaker setups
- Most people don’t have a bunch of people to join them as they watch a movie on the big screen. There is a social element to watching movies in the theater that is difficult to view in a smaller room and/or alone
- Popcorn. Sorry, microwave popcorn is not the same. Yes, you can emulate the movie theater popcorn setup affordably, but most people won’t and don’t have this available.
- Date night outside the home. If you want to have date night at home, you can do that any night of the week, but it’s nice to leave home and do something fun with your spouse/significant other/friends away from your home.
Sure, all of these items except the last can be replicated with an in-home system and you don’t have to be Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos. On top of that, you can invite only those who don’t interrupt the movies at home. You can also pause the movies, eat whatever food you want and show movies whenever you want. There are many advantages to watching movies at home versus the theater, but I don’t think enough people have movie theater quality rooms in their homes.
Funny aside: 20 years ago we added a movie room to our home. I wired the walls with high quality sound in preparation for the ultimate surround sound system. For a few years we had the system and I watched movies in there, but it never really felt like the movie theater. I didn’t go the extra mile for the movie theater popcorn, but came about as close as possible 20 years ago to having this room of dreams. I’ve been a cutting edge tech guy in the past.
So, if you have someone like me who could have a room like this and doesn’t prioritize it over a movie theater, my guess is there are many lesser-tech folks who would rather just go out to, for no better reason than, go out.
Re-releasing the New Releases in Theaters
Maybe some of these movies can be re-released in theaters. Again, this is all a lesser concern to finding a cure and making sure human beings wherever they are in the world are protected from harm from this virus.
Informative Articles about Coronavirus
Admittedly, this is going outside the scope of this blog, but a wise person stays informed. I’ve collected some articles to learn more about coronavirus:
- What is a coronavirus? [Wired.com]
- Would The U.S. Health System Be Ready For A Surge In Coronavirus Cases? [NPR]: “Greene points out that the likelihood of the average American coming down with the virus, if the person has not traveled to China or come into close contact with someone who has, remains “extremely low.””
- How the Coronavirus likely started with a bat [VOX.com]: “The story of the novel coronavirus is the story of HIV, of SARS, of Ebola, and even the measles. These are all diseases that have been introduced to humans — with deadly effects — via animals. And as humans encroach more and more into animal habitats, it’s believed these spillover events may only grow more common.”
- How the New Coronavirus Spreads and Progresses – And Why One Test May Not Be Enough [UCSF]
- Could tobacco cure coronavirus? Don’t laugh. [POLITICO]
- Coronavirus: Largest study suggests elderly and sick are most at risk [BBC News]
Let’s hope that a vaccine is created soon and this outbreak is thoroughly contained. Regardless if it’s happening in America or abroad, viruses that infect any human being anywhere are a concern that we all should agree upon working together to contain and eliminate.