Christmas holidays should have been the time for cinemas to make up for the loss of sales over the past nine months. The hard lockdown makes this impossible and consumers are therefore relying on streaming services, which have benefited considerably from this for months.
This development also puts pressure on large American studios. What to do with all the new films planned this year? Many premieres have been moved to 2021. Due to continued uncertainty, Warner Bros decided to change the course: all movies for next year will be released simultaneously in cinemas and on its own streaming service in the US. The news led to a small landslide in Hollywood.
The discussion on the exclusivity of cinemas has been held for years, but has been brought to focus. Now, cinemas have the exclusive right to show a film for an agreed period. Then they end up in other places, such as streaming services.
Directly in your living room
“ It really is a tipping point,” says Ennel van Eeden, media expert at PwC accounting firm. “We will look back in a few years and conclude that this is the time when the calibrated models have broken open.”
Film journalist Omar Larabi also recognizes this. “Studios are going to bring movies directly to the viewer in the living room,” he says. “They dont just want to make films, they want to trade and show them. This trend is likely to have negative consequences for the cinema sector. I dont know if well come back to the point where we were in terms of numbers.”
PwC follows developments on the Dutch cinema and streaming market and sees the following picture:
fact that Warner Bros decides to place the films directly on his streaming service HBO Max (for a month, after that the film is only shown in the cinema again) is not entirely coincidental. For the time being, the service is not making a strong start. The competition in America is also greater than in the Netherlands. Seventeen new films should be an extra support in the back.
This development does not have to have a direct impact on the Dutch market. The American market is different, says film journalist Nico van den Berg. “Cinematic visits to the US have been declining for years, while in Europe and Asia they are growing. Film studios determine by market the most lucrative method of releasing a film. Other interests play in the US.”
Van den Berg sees the influence of streaming services increasing. “The Netflix movie Mank came to Netflix after a few weeks of cinema, which used to be unheard of.” He sees new columns emerge, in which film studios want to control the entire chain, just as they did in their early days. “Until the 40s, cinemas were often owned by the studios. You can see that happening now with streaming services.”
The drastic decision of Warner Bros. has not yet been followed up. But, the New York Times suggests, possibly the studio cannot go back and eventually forces others to let go of the classic model. Cinemas will have to work harder and show more benefits, says Van den Berg about their future
Accepsible night out
Van Eeden emphasizes that all this does not mean that there will be a major change at once or that the future of cinema is at stake. According to her, it is and remains an easy night out.
But there is no question of such a night out for the time being. “That we cant open at Christmas is killing,” says Han Wolf, owner of a number of cinemas. “We had very much counted on the Christmas season.”
Wolf is now settling his hopes on the vaccine. “Then our company can start running again.” What movie hes looking forward to most? “The newest James Bond.” The film was scheduled to come this spring and has already been postponed twice, now Bond is on the roll for April next year. “Such a film can really help us start up after the crisis. Then you have a guaranteed audience attractor for a longer period of time.”