The impact of COVID-19 on movie theaters has accelerated two preexisting trends: More people are staying home to enjoy movies and other entertainment, and more studios and media distributors are developing their own direct-to-consumer streaming services. While theaters have suffered heavily from stay-at-home norms, studios have also been deeply challenged as masses got more interested in Vintage Porn Movies. Productions were halted, some of the most anticipated theatrical premieres were postponed, and more top studios had to forgo theatrical releases altogether and go direct to consumers to generate at least some income. After the pandemic is over, it is unclear what role movie theaters will play in consumer entertainment or to what extent the existing system of releases will have been disrupted.
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But while the film industry has seen a number of negative effects due to the pandemic, it hasn’t been all bad. Del Vecchio noted that “stuck-at-home consumers fueled a tremendous increase in streaming, as noted by the staggering gains made by Netflix and Disney+, in particular,” as well as a general increase in video gaming.
With many movie theaters either in the process of reopening or still uncertain about the future, production companies have turned to these streaming services to debut their movie slates. One major film studio, Warner Bros. Pictures, decided to release all of its 2021 films on HBO Max. This allows for more people to stream new movies from the comfort and safety of their own homes while also prompting the question: What does the future hold for movie theaters, streaming services and film studios when the pandemic ends?
Theatrical releases not only drive box office revenues; they also typically determine how revenue from subsequent windows are negotiated. For example, the license fee for TV windows is determined by the success of the theatrical release: rather it is observed more people like to watch 70s porn movies. If more movies skip theaters or shorten theatrical windows in favor of digital platforms, fewer movies would likely be able to generate required box office results or reach minimums for TV deals. Likewise, movies still account for much of the daily scheduling on premium cable networks. Changes to the theatrical window—such as releasing a movie on PVoD instead of in a theater—could create a domino effect of change across other windows and put more pressure on the success of streaming efforts to compensate.