The movie industry has been serving involuntary jail time as the Coronavirus pandemic rages on in the outside world. Few summer tentpoles are barely hanging on to their slates, with a vast number of films being pushed back, some indefinitely. Theatres, local and abroad, have shut their doors. Studios are turning to digital and streaming services as their saviours amid this crisis as the theatrical-digital window has been reduced to a slit in the wall.
Now, while this bit of digital improv may very well save the butts of movie corporations right now, could it possibly change the way films are distributed once all of this blows over? Jason Blum, founder and CEO of Blumhouse, seems to think so.
In an interview with the Daily Wire (via Screenrant), Jason Blum gave a situational report on the damage-control being done and whether this will affect theatrical to home release windows in the future. Here’s what he said:
I think it’s not realistic to think all the studios are going to wait four months before they put a movie at home. They just can’t compete; they’re going to have to compete with Amazon and Netflix and Apple in a different way. There’s going to be shifts. The consumer is going to be more used to staying at home. Something is going to give, there has to be something that’s going to happen post-corona. The movie business will look different after the coronavirus.
Blum continued with his professional outlook, stating that theatres should not be left to rot even after the COVID-19 rampage decelerates.
The collective experience of going to a theatre and taking in a movie, I think that’s going to be around for a long time. I think there’ll be less movies in theatres, there’ll be less of a selection, or I should say, there’ll be many many fewer movies in theatres with the window, and I think there’ll be many many more movies in theatres, but they only last for a week or two.
Like every other studio, Blumhouse had to create some shifts in their theatrical releases for 2020, with The Invisible and The Hunt arriving early on digital and streaming in the past week. Leigh Whannell’s horror thriller, The Invisible Man, was only in cinemas for three weeks prior (two weeks for the Malaysian release) before it got bumped to the small screens.
Blum’s comments do hold a certain weight. A tighter selection of movies means films with a lower budget and do not have the same “cinematic draw” as big-budget monster-on-monster kebabooms may just jump ship to streaming platforms where they have a better prospect of being viewed by audiences worldwide. Take Paramount’s romantic comedy Lovebirds, starring Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae, for instance. The feature was scheduled to release next month in theatres, and now it is headed directly to Netflix. That’s not to say that this has not been a trend in previous years, BUT it might become more of a norm after the pandemic recedes.
As for the movies that DO make it to theatres, they should be able to continue generating enormous incomes for cinema chains. As Blum said, the theatrical experience is something that will still be sought after. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing flicks on a big-screen surrounded by the best woofers and the smell of fresh buttered popcorn. Not to forget, making the movies an outing with friends and family would still be deemed a special activity.
The future is still a pencil sketch, but the graphs are clear. Whether or not the theatrical-home release window will be shortened is still up to studios to decide. Just what projects are deemed worthy of a theatrical release is at the mercy of these corporations. But yeah, I’m sure, we’ll continue to witness our Avengers, dinos, and mind-numbing Vin Diesel stunts on the big-screen for the foreseeable future!