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WILL STREAMING SERVICES REPLACE CINEMAS?

1 May 2022
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WILL STREAMING SERVICES REPLACE CINEMAS AFTER CORONA?

After “Mulan” and “Raya and the Last Dragon”, it’s the turn of “Black Widow” to land on streaming provider Disney+, alongside its theatrical release. Is this concept viable? WILL STREAMING SERVICES REPLACE CINEMAS? And how does this change the film industry and our relationship to movies?

Generally speaking, the gap between theatrical and streaming releases has been steadily shrinking over the past few years. While in the early days, when Netflix definitely got into streaming in the late 2000s and established it, it still took months or even years for blockbusters to be streamed to the home, the wait time is now significantly shorter. The pandemic has accelerated this process and taken it to the extreme. The major studios are now releasing their films directly to streaming providers, in part because of the closure of movie theaters. An analysis of the conflict between cinema and streaming:

People are streaming more and more

In general, the streaming industry has grown well in recent years. Market giant Netflix, for example, recently passed the 200 million user mark worldwide. Corona has continued to drive streaming, partly because people have naturally spent more time at home, and partly because movie theaters were among the first to close and are still closed in many places. Even if openings are soon possible, the cinemas cannot be filled as before. Moreover, the technical possibilities for home cinema are much better today; the TV sets are bigger, the sound system is better, etc.

Last year, the solution was to postpone the planned cinema release on streaming services . At the same time, major film festivals have also been and continue to be held in digital. This of course has the advantage of making the format accessible to a larger number of people. On the other hand, the disaster is piling up more and more for cinemas.

Disney+ streaming service breaks new ground with its own film productions

Currently, a news that concerns Marvel and therefore also Disney+ is making headlines. After the epic conclusion of phase 3 of the MCU in “Avengers 4: Endgame” (2019), things should normally continue in 2020 with “Black Widow”. The film featuring the superheroine Natasha Romanoff, played by Scarlett Johansson, was already scheduled to hit the big screen in spring 2020. Due to the Corona pandemic, the release date was pushed back several times. And finally, the official date was set for July 9, 2021. However, as we learned in March 2021, Disney, of which Marvel Studios is a part, was planning a parallel release on its own streaming portal Disney+. The company has already done this in a similar way for both “Mulan” and “Raya and the Last Dragon” films.

Subscribers can then watch the films in streaming on Disney+, for an additional fee of about 21 euros. A few months later, the movies will be part of the regular offer. The new model was not unanimously approved. Criticism has been strong, especially from cinema exhibitors, who are under additional pressure due to this new practice of streaming services.



Other platforms are following suit

In fall 2020, Disney+ apparently set new milestones with the live-action adaptation of “Mulan.” On the one hand, the group has established the concept of movie studios launching their own streaming platforms. On the other hand, releasing theatrical films on these platforms has apparently paid off financially, as Warner Brothers was quick to follow suit.

At the end of 2020, the company announced that all of its films would also be released on the HBO Max streaming service, which recently launched in the United States, at the same time as their theatrical release. In December, it was “Wonder Woman 1984” that opened the ball. In 2021, a series of big blockbusters are expected to follow, including “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Dune” and “Matrix 4.



Cinema and streaming change

A look at this year’s Oscar nominees also shows that some great films were first released by streaming providers and a large portion of the nominees can now be streamed on Netflix, Amazon and others.

To do so, the Academy suspended – for the first time – the rules in place until now, according to which films can only compete if they have been released in theaters for at least one week. The big winner of this rule, in terms of nominations, is clearly the streaming provider Netflix, the loser being theaters.


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