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Tag: HBO Max

Editorials

A love letter to Cinemas, Film Companies & Movie Fans

December 6, 2020
Picturehouse Central

Last Friday, Warner Bros. announced that Wonder Woman 1984 will be released in the US on the 15th of December on HBO Max and on the 25th of December in cinema. At the beginning of this week, we found out that the UK cinematic release will happen on the 16th of December and the other countries will follow. While I was happy that we would get a new big release this year, after Tenet, it was news that I welcomed in two ways. With happiness but also with sadness for the cinema. While the HBO Max release won’t be affected by COVID-19, the cinematic one will undoubtedly be.

While it’s understandable that the cast and crew wanted to release this movie ASAP after its many postponements, the Christmas date seems to be the wrong decision. If we get the chance to go out during Christmas, we probably spend that time with family and not at the movies. That’s why it felt that the company behind Wonder Woman 1984 focussed only on HBO Max. Even more so because another release postponement would have been understandable if that would have meant that more cinemas would be able to show the movie.

This is absolutely no criticism to anyone working on Wonder Woman 1984, because many companies would have made the same decision. Still, it feels like it’s another slap in the face of the cinemas and fans who want to watch this movie in a safe cinema. That’s why I want to send a love letter to every party affected by a decision like that: film companies, cinemas and fans.

Wonder Woman 1984 (Credit: Warner Bros)

…to the film companies

Just as any industry, the film industry needed to adapt, and so I salute you for making the difficult decisions about postponements and skipping the cinema release and going straight to streaming platforms. I also want to applaud the many companies who decided to grace the few cinemas with great new releases (think of Saint Maud, Babyteeth, Saint Frances) and who are planning to do the same for the rest of 2020.

While your goal isn’t only to please the audience, it’s obviously also to make money and try to tip over the scale to the profit side instead of the loss one. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using different media (streaming platforms, cinema, television, etc.) to distribute your movie. However, just remember that there are movie fans out there who are willing to wait for a major release on the big screen, no matter when that will happen. We did it before 2020 and pretty sure we will do it after this year as well.

Babyteeth (Credit: Picturehouse)

… the cinemas

Sorry to hear that you had to close your doors again during the last few weeks and that a completely re-opening won’t happen for a very long time. Based on the experience I had before lockdown, cinemas is an extremely safe place—social distancing, hand sanitizers, air-filters, etc. You made sure that it was all there. While there weren’t any new big releases after Tenet, you did bring light into the cinema files lives by programming smaller releases and re-screening movies that need the big screen.

Many of the screenings were sold out. While that was probably because of the limited seats, it was also because film lovers want to go to the cinema to escape from 2020. Understandably, not everyone wants to return to the movies (I respect everyone’s decision), but for the ones who went to a film screening, you as the cinema provided the much-needed escapism, so we thank you for that. Let’s hope that must of you can re-open again soon.

County Lines (Credit: BFI)

… to the fans

Saying that 2020 was a year that changed the way we watch films would be a massive understatement. While Netflix and Amazon Prime already had many subscribers before this year, they gained even more, and we also saw the rise of Disney+. With every postponement, our heart sank to the floor because we would have to wait much longer to be able to do what we want: watching new movies in the cinemas. It’s the same as game lovers having to wait longer for the release of a new console or game.

If you’ve been to the movies during this pandemic, you know that, while it doesn’t feel, as usual, the big screen makes you forget the world we live in for a moment. If you haven’t been, then I’m glad that you can still enjoy some great releases from the comfort of your home. Fingers crossed that we will meet up in a cinema in the near future.

Body of Water (Credit: Verve Pictures)

Also Read: Coronavirus: How It’s Affected The Film Industry

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Editorials

Disney Shifts Its Focus Away From Cinemas To Its Streaming Platform

October 28, 2020
Disney Hulu ESPN [Source: Whats on Disney Plus]

Recently Disney announced its future plans regarding its content and distribution. And today we’ll analyse how Disney’s decisions could affect the cinema industry as it still tries to weather the effects of the covid-19 pandemic.

Disney’s Restructuring

Last week Disney announced a huge restructure with its Content creation and distribution being separated. Content creation will now focus on creating big franchise content for theatrical and streaming distribution, as well as general entertainment and sports content for Disney’s streaming platforms and TV networks. Meanwhile the “Media and Entertainment Distribution group” will handle monetisation and distribution of all the company’s projects. And with Disney reporting over 60 million Disney+ subscribers worldwide their efforts have shifted towards creating content for and distributing content on their streaming platforms.

How Will This Affect Cinemas?

Disney movies attract incredibly large cinema audiences. And with Cineworld’s recent closure due to the lack of big releases needed to sustain themselves during the pandemic, this move could be rather damaging. Especially since studios like WarnerMedia and Comcast are seemingly following Disney’s lead. Recently they reorganised to focus on streaming service’s HBO Max and Peacock.

However, despite Disney shifting focus to streaming, analyst Rich Greenfield said, “nothing can achieve the per picture economics that Disney…generate through a global theatrical release”. Showing that Disney still needs cinema distribution to ensure their projects make their money back. This move may be meant to recoup losses further down the line. With projects aimed at attracting new customers to Disney’s subscription services and keeping people subscribed; paying for content, as they proved they could do with Mulan (2020). And as Disney has access to a huge amount of resources, and bankable studios, it’s hard to see this becoming an industry trend. Not every studio has the resources needed to shift towards streaming over cinema. Cinemas still matter but can they remain open without the support of many big tentpole releases?

How Can Cinemas Survive?

There are no concrete answers, but cinemas currently have a lot of avenues available. For example, the largest audience for UK cinema releases is consistently 15-24-year-olds. Other statistics show that BAME and LGBTQ filmgoers, as well as adults with children under 18, make up a high percentage of cinema audiences. Cinemas could target these audiences by providing discounts or exclusive screenings to encourage certain demographics to keep returning (similar to how The Light and Odeon cinemas currently offer discounts for former Cineworld customers). Rewards can also be offered to make customers feel valued. And classic and recent content could be offered to draw in BAME and LGBTQ audiences.

Also, recently smaller movies like After we collided and Unhinged have done relatively well at the UK box office. Showing that smaller films can do well with a bigger platform. And with many smaller releases still on the horizon, cinemas have an opportunity to encourage audiences to try something new. They can do this by increasing social media awareness. Offering discounts/rewards. Or perhaps even organising local cinema clubs, as many of the previously mentioned groups are more likely to respond to the idea of a film club. Plus the localised nature of film clubs could be a great comfort to regions in higher lockdown tiers.

Of course, if cases spike cinemas will have to close. But other options are available. For example, during the lockdown, Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema partnered with various streaming and VoD sites. Offering free trials for their members, and virtual screenings that split the money evenly with the Showroom if you used their site. These options allowed people to watch films safely from home. And helped keep the Showroom on its feet.

Conclusion

Despite Disney’s shift to focus more on streaming, many studios don’t have Disney’s money and resources. So it’s hard to see this becoming an industry trend. Cinema distribution will still be needed to cover big-budget production costs.

But cinemas must adapt to survive without huge tentpole releases. There are many independent productions out there to entice audiences. And offers and rewards, targeted marketing, film clubs, virtual screenings; profit-sharing with VoD, and streaming services are certainly options that can help cinemas to make money. But will they succeed? Only time will tell.

Also Read: What’s Next For Disney?

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