There have been quite a few discussions since the start of the pandemic on what exactly the future of cinema looks like. The Batman‘s success in theaters and as a strong HBO Max addition seemingly added some momentum to the full recovery of cinema. It’s been rough since the pandemic started in 2020, but family and indie films are finally gaining some momentum again as that audience is slowly creeping back into theaters.
As CinemaCon is currently ongoing, which is all about the “cinematic experience,” the National Association of Theatre Owners chairman John Fithian made a broad statement during his address. He believes that the day-and-date model has now died as they move forward in a more traditional direction, especially highlighting piracy as a reason.
I am pleased to announce that simultaneous release is dead as a serious business model, and piracy is what killed it. When a pristine copy of a movie makes its way online and spreads, it has a very damaging impact on our industry.John Fithian
Warner Bros. was one of the few to truly embrace the day-and-date model, as every release for the entire year got that special treatment. Now, they are still embracing a digital next model with a 45-day release.
When analyzing title after title it becomes very clear that spikes in piracy are most drastic when a movie is first available to watch in the home: it doesn’t matter if its available via premium video on demand or subscription video on demand,” said Fithian. “Robust theatrical windows protect against piracy. If a major title that people are clamoring to see in theaters is released too quickly to the home and then pirated, the temptation to stay home and watch pirated films becomes greater for many potential moviegoers.John Fithian
He goes on to highlight the issue of piracy without giving concrete examples. Still, their main focus will be on 2022 and moving forward, as the potential of this year’s releases offers a lot more box office momentum. One could argue that the topic is quite a bit more complex, especially given the personal investment in the medium also painting the full picture. Yet, the piracy issue has definitely left its impact on the industry, especially with the lack of Chinese releases.
There’s no true answer and the model may not truly be dead, especially as streaming services start to crack on piracy concerns moving forward. Netflix’s recent fall will also bare its fangs moving forward, but the streaming market is definitely not something of the past. We’ll see if 2022 might be our first return to 2019 numbers, especially building upon the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Batman.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter