Necessity: The Mother of Innovation
Due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) movie theaters were forced to shut their doors to the public. That said, film distributors still need to get their productions out there because they’ve got years and millions tied up in these projects.
Que Universal. They’ve decided to release the Trolls: World Tour straight to Video On Demand services, cutting out the theaters. That was the right move for them. They’ve since made over $100 Million in VOD sales. Everything seems alright. Except, AMC Theaters wont have it.
Theaters have a symbiotic relationship with production houses. In order for theaters to make money, they need to offer the latest films that the public want to see. Concession sales, up-sales, it’s all part of the fragile ecosystem of the traditional theater model.
So when AMC Theaters caught wind of Universal’s bold move to go straight to VOD with Trolls World Tour, the Chairman of AMC Theaters decided to cut ties with Universal Pictures.
Video On Demand
Look, nearly everyone has Netflix, Hulu, Prime Videos or some other VOD service. It’s the way of the future and it’s here to stay. Theaters have seen a decrease in attendance since the VOD platforms have taken off. It’s a slow and sad sunset on an epic history but it’s inevitable.
After all, why would you want to go sit in public with people on their phones, loud and obnoxious crowds and crying children? Why would you want to spend $12 on a Ticket and an additional $30 on snacks? Is it part of the experience? I’m a no on that.
I watch all of my movies, from Blockbusters to obscure Indies in only a couple of places. The comfort of my own home or on a mobile device while traveling. Back in the day, I used to love going to the theater. The experience was well worth it to me but with the cynical and selfish nature of society and the general apathy among people, I’ve gotten over the “Experience”.
Netflix and Amazon Prime pretty much take care of all my media needs now. When I’m watching Indie Films, I either cast them to my Smart TV from my PC or just watch them on the computer. By and large, my workflow hasn’t changed much due to COVID-19.
Trolls World Tour
So what does all this mean for film production? What does this mean for the continued decline of the standard Hollywood Windowing process?
Well, films screened on VOD platforms now have the opportunity to qualify for Oscars if they had a planned theatrical release. I think this is going to revolutionize the way the film industry releases content. By cutting out the theaters and serving the films up On-Demand, there’s a lot more meat left on the bone for production companies.
I think we’re going to see more AAA films hitting VOD quicker in the future. This could spell disaster for the theater market, but I think there’s still fruit in the fields if played right. We could see a rise of the Art House style screenings. We could see a more traditional theater approach as an erudite experience where the film snobs congregate. Hell, we could see a dual-release for those who just want the experience and get out of the house.
Either way, I think the giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime are going to start an uptake in their purchases and I’m hoping that translates into the indie market as well. When we blur the lines between Hollywood and the Independent Film markets, I think we’re all going to benefit in some way.
Let’s just hope the theaters can keep up with the change in society and we don’t lose that opportunity to experience the Golden Age of Film in them.