Sony and WarnerMedia Weigh in on the Future of Film Entertainment

By Bill Toulas / December 28, 2020

The media consumption space is shaping in a very dynamic way, and the big players in the field are taking their chances with what they believe to be the safest bets. For example, Warner Bros decided that all its films in 2021 will debut on HBO Max, making them available on cinemas and the streaming platform simultaneously. The American media and entertainment giant believes that cinemas won’t recover next year, or that this ship has sailed in general, and that theaters will never return to what they used to be.

At the same time that VOD platform fans celebrated this news, the CEO of Sony Pictures, Tony Vinciquerra, stated during an interview to CNBC that they are planning to fill the gap that’s going to be created by this peculiar exit from WarnerMedia. Instead of jumping to streaming platforms, Sony plans to delay the release of its "big" movies until the market is in a better position to support a profitable release. Moreover, the man added that theaters need to become more flexible with their viewing programmes, keeping blockbusters for longer and ousting poor performers sooner.

To get an idea of the current situation, the long-awaited “Wonder Woman 1984” sequel to the 2017 movie debuted on HBO Max and whatever few (2,100) movie theaters that are open right now. The film collected about $16.7 million from cinema tickets, which is 84% down compared to its predecessor's first-weekend earnings. So, it’s clear that filmmakers are forced to find alternative alleys to make their content available, and one can postpone this for so much. Sure, the situation will turn around now that a vaccine is out, but the exact times and the ultimate outcome remain elusive.

For example, Cannes director Thierry Fremaux believes that cinemas have gone through very rough periods in their 125-year history but always found ways to recover in the end. According to the acclaimed creator, this is what’s going to happen this time too. In his own words:

We want to see, on a big screen, a film we know nothing about, sitting next to someone we don’t know, and experience the promise that cinema has always upheld, and which will never disappear.

Actor and director Tom Hanks agree that movie theaters will survive, but believes that a shift to streaming was due anyway and that release models for blockbuster films will change fundamentally starting by next year. The two-times Oscar and 12-times Emmy award winner believes that:

Big event motion pictures are going to rule the day at the cinemas. 'News of the World' might be the last adult movie about people saying interesting things that’s going to play on a big screen somewhere, because after this, in order to guarantee that people show up again, we’re going to have the Marvel Universe and all sorts of franchises. I think there will be an awful lot of movies that will only be streamed, and I think it will be fine to see them that way because they will actually be built and made and constructed for somebody’s pretty good widescreen TV at their home.

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