Collapsing Theatrical Windows Are Not The End Of Cinema Life As We Know It

A lot of doomsday news out there right now and it’s getting tougher to avoid and stay positive. I’ve been saying almost since this blog started that the theatrical window needed to be reduced (see: It’s Time To Shrink Theatrical Window To 30 Days). 90 days is too long to wait for streaming. We’re in a “now, now, now!” society and any business that doesn’t adapt will die.

I didn’t write about this in October with any vision that there would be this coronavirus forcing hands, but if the movie theater chains would have been more receptive to streaming six months ago, they’d better be able to sell streaming as an alternative viewing option now. Remember how they dug in and wouldn’t let The Irishman screen in theaters because Netflix wasn’t honoring the all-too-sacred theatrical window?

What comes around goes around.

Vudu is advertising movies as “theater at home” I like that graphic (see top of post), but don’t care as much for the slogan. It’s not theater at home and can’t be unless you have a decent sized room with theater seating, a giant TV screen and superb sound quality.

Some people do. Most of them are wealthy. For the rest of the world, these are merely movies that were meant to be in the theaters, but currently are available at home because there is no where else to show them.

Studios are trying to ring some cash register anywhere during the current virus climate.

While the on-demand model may work or at least mitigate the damage for some movies that are shut out of theaters due to the virus, Greenfield says,“the math really doesn’t work” for big films. For low-budget or mid-range movies, releasing them on demand remains a gamble — an exercise in trying to solve an equation when variables are unknown.

Coronavirus Forces Movie Studios to Reckon With Collapsing Theatrical Windows | Hollywood Reporter

I tend to agree that for films with budgets exceeding $100 million it’s not likely to be as profitable, which is why when theaters can reopen they will and the big tentpole movies will encourage people to return to theaters.

Speaking from my own point of view, I want the theatrical window to shrink so more new movies that aren’t wide releases can be available sooner. There are dozens of movies that don’t even show up in local theaters that we’re unable to see. A few of them I’ve profiled here that I really wanted to see — but couldn’t (yet). If those movies launched simultaneously in limited screenings and on demand streaming, I could see more of these new movies.

Will admit again, as have done several times before, that we aren’t average moviegoers. We’re extreme moviegoers. We’ve seen around 100 new movies in theaters in the last six months, when the average moviegoer sees 3-4 movies in theaters a year. We’re not the norm.

The bigger problem than the theatrical window is film budgets. Studios need to go back to being more penny-pinching with film budgets. This will make it easier to turn a profit no matter how they decide to release films. Simultaneously releases for say movies with $10 million and less budgets will allow studios to explore new income opportunites.

And theater chains needs to get with the program. AMC has an on-demand streaming division, but it seems to be left out of their current gloom and doom conversations. Why aren’t they getting more creative about these options right now, actively and excitedly promoting them?

AMC is promoting on their website “theater on demand” which is their version of VUDU’s Video On Demand rental service (you can buy Onward from Disney for $20). Personally, I don’t see as much value in a rental for $20, but do see buying the movie for $20 as worthwhile. Heck, throw in bonus and behind the scenes and it makes for an at home price even more attractive.

Instead, AMC, is out there moaning and groaning about all their fixed costs and $0 revenue coming in and how they need a loan to keep their business afloat.

Aren’t they making any money from their (“new”) streaming? Must be greater than $0. Something isn’t adding up here.

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