During the pandemic, the future of movie theaters looked bleak. The owners of the film rushed on the verge of bankruptcy amid ongoing closures and closure orders, and streaming services introduced new publication models that made it more difficult for exhibitors already in difficulty to regain theater exclusivity. Theaters seemed to be facing an existential crisis, close to a world that no longer needs to stifle a world that no longer needs them for distribution.
But as movie theaters have begun to reopen their doors and long delays are finally introducing long-running movies, the story has begun to change. In recent months, several studio owners have signed contracts with exhibitors – including Regal Senior Cineworld, Cinemaand AMC – Lock exclusive theater performances. It’s a sign that even large streaming studios believe they still need theaters to make a big release a success.
This week, during an invitation to enter, AMC boss Adam Aron officially announced that the company had reached an agreement Warner Bros. releases films exclusively in cinemas for 45 days starting in 2022 – moving away from WarnerMedia hybrid exemption model that all 2021 Warner Bros. movies premiered in theaters and HBO Max on the same day.
“It’s no secret that AMC wasn’t happy at all when Warner decided in December to take the movies home on HBO Max at the same time as the theatrical release,” Aron said. “It’s therefore particularly gratifying that Warner has once again embraced a unique theater window. And it is especially pleasing to us at AMC to work so harmoniously with Warner Bros. again. “
The contract is corrected a very public fall between theater chains and studios last year, which was followed by controversial announcements of streaming-exclusive releases for films that were to debut alone in theaters. The thing got so hot that at some point last year, the AMC said it would ban universal films its theaters. A month later, they made a deal a lot narrower theatrical performances, and Aron said this week that both companies had “the best employment relationship we’ve had in many years”. As for the other filmmakers, Aron said the theater chain discussed exclusive releases with every major studio.
“We hear considerable support in Hollywood that the exclusive theater window is an important way to build great and successful film series,” Aron said. “However, it’s clear that this whole topic is quite topical. It’s a lot going on.”
AMC has plenty of incentives to paint a bulky picture of its post-pandemic future when calling its shareholders, and the theater’s exclusive windows are 45, 31 or just 17 days — all of these theaters have agreed in this new pandemic environment — are far from the 90-day windows that movie theaters typically enjoy before the coronavirus. But negotiations on exclusivity for exhibition rights certainly show that studios need these windows to promote the success of their films, at least when high-budget publications such as F9, Quiet place, part IIor the upcoming James Bond movie There is no time to die are concerned, said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice Pro.
“These are movies that Hollywood has relied on for decades, and they are money makers,” Robbins said. Limit on the phone. “From this perspective, keeping the film exclusively in theaters serves as a starting point for that stream of income for the studio and at the same time, from the audience’s point of view, serves as a communal way of seeing these films in a way that really doesn’t overlap at home.”
Yet, and perhaps most importantly, the pandemic has changed such a traditional film release structure that theaters have to give up their long-term post-pandemic strategies to survive the devastating blow to their business. AMC has already announced it considering new means for revenue, maybe by showing sporting events or tapping into the gaming community (no matter how it even starts to show, it’s anyone’s guess at this point).
“Every business needs to evolve and adapt to the times, and theaters have done it several times over the last century. This is just the first great example of it happening in at least one or more generations, ”Robbins said. “We’ve seen extensions and dining theaters, bars, premium screens like IMAX and several chains, their own forms — Regal has RPX and then Dolby Cinema. I believe that such enhanced viewing experiences are the way of the future of theaters. “
In the future, theaters may need to rely on these enhanced experiences and subscription and loyalty services to streamline their business. Ticket bundling or dynamic ticket pricing based on film demand can benefit both theaters and paying audiences who may not want to pay the same price to see smaller titles than in big movies, Robbins said. In the future, studios will also have to combine a more standardized publication model, although it may take several years.
In the end, however, studios have shown that they need theaters as much as cinemas need their movies. “I think the fact that Warner Bros. has been very loud,” Robbins said, “and now on several occasions committed to returning to exclusive windows from next year, really underscores where this future is going.”