As America–the world–is currently in the midst of what the CDC is calling a pandemic, studios that are pulling spring horror releases from theaters should bite the bullet and let us watch them streaming online.
It’s worked before.
Every day our news desk gets emails with updates on how the studio is pulling a movie from theaters until a later date. This is an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, many cities limiting gatherings of 250 people or more.
Big theater chains are even implementing a social distancing rule. Companies such as AMC, Regal, Cineplex, Arclight and Alamo Drafthouse chains haven’t closed down completely, rather they have limited their ticket sales in response to the viral pandemic. That’s a big loss in ticket revenue.
But there is another way.
Studios could make big money if instead of withholding a release of a title to a later date they just release it On Demand.
As an example, Paramount has said they are moving the release date of A Quiet Place Part II, but if they were to make it available on a streaming service for a fee–perhaps a little more than a theater ticket–people would certainly buy it.
I’m not an expert on how marketing works, but I’m pretty sure theater owners would not be happy if studios bypassed their brick and mortar venues for straight-to-digital ones, however, it can be done, and it has been done. Successfully.
Remember the James Franco and Seth Rogen comedy The Interview back in 2014? That was supposed to be a big-budget Christmas theatrical release but due to terrorist threats theater owners opted to not show it and subsequently it went straight to digital rental where it still racked up $40 million then went on to grab $12 million more in its informal theatrical run.
This was Sony’s most profitable straight-to-digital movie to date. And that movie wasn’t all that great. It could be argued that studios lost all that theatrical revenue, but they did the right thing for the safety of the public. The same applies here.
Then there are the pesky pirates who love to get something for nothing, but that seems to be the normal pitfall in modern society. Besides, when a title is released on DVD they include a digital code that anyone can use. I’ve seen some people post them online to be grabbed by the fastest fan.
Let’s talk Disney. Frozen II barely out of the gate from its DVD release, but the company has decided to stream it early on its streaming service.
Newly appointed Disney CEO Bob Chapek, has said he decided to run the film on streaming early because “powerful themes of perseverance and the importance of family” is “incredibly relevant during this time.”
A Quiet Place II doesn’t have a talking snowman, but the bond of family theme is the same.
Some I have talked to say A Quiet Place Part II could do both; stream and be released in theaters. They say the movie has been hyped so much that perhaps millions of people are ready to press “purchase now” from their couches if they had the option then experience it theaters if given the choice.
One of the great things about the first A Quiet Place is its sound design so some might want to revisit it in an auditorium once this pandemic has run its course.
In the grand scheme of things, there’s a lot more to worry about than whether or not a first-run movie should be available at our fingertips, but in these times like these entertainment is what gets us through and since the public has been advised to stay inside, why not give us a little bit more just this once?