Are Movies Moving On?

Are Movies Moving On?

During the pandemic, movies have had to choose between going straight to streaming services or delaying their theatrical release in hopes that they will reopen. This debate could change the film industry entirely. 

Streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+ and more have all experienced a massive surge in subscribers since people have been stuck at home. Netflix alone gained 15 million new watchers in one quarter. The issue for most companies that is causing them to hold off is that it would produce significantly fewer profits, as members pay a monthly fee instead of a one-time price. 

“Trolls: World Tour” could not afford to delay their release, as they had to meet merchandising and advertising expectations. DreamWorks Animations opted for option three: to sell the movie on demand for $20. In this way, they could still make individual profit, but it was a risk. Despite this, Universal reported that the movie achieved the biggest opening day and opening weekend for a digital title, and it was a massive success for all parties involved. 

The film served as an experiment for how movies could fare with skipping theatrical releases entirely. It was particularly chosen because, along with its extensive marketing, the movie’s demographic was far younger than most other blockbusters. Kid-friendly movies typically earn more post-theater profits regardless of circumstance, as children like to rewatch their favorite cartoons in the comfort of their homes. This made it a safe bet to serve as a guinea pig of sorts. 

The unexpected outcome of “Trolls: World Tour” left studios and production companies wondering if it was a potential game-changer in terms of the way that major feature films are consumed. However, there are still a few obstacles standing in the way of most movies being released directly onto streaming platforms.

The majority of Hollywood films are continuing to delay their releases to late 2020 or even 2021, desperately seeking a fraction of the colossal global film industry (42.5 billion dollars). Aside from the profit factor, many studios are trying to maintain their eligibility for the Academy Awards. 

The Academy requires a film to be shown a minimum of three times a day in a commercial theater in Los Angeles County for at least seven consecutive days to qualify for a nomination. It’s unclear how or if the Academy Awards, which are usually held in February, will be impacted due to the virus.

So far, for a variety of reasons, it appears that the majority of movies that are being released to Video On Demand are animated. But this leaves audiences with a significantly smaller pool of films to choose from, and it’s impossible to predict how the film industry will react if the COVID-19 pandemic continues on.