fewer outlets could be the new normal


“The Batman” is set to be one of the biggest theatrical releases of the year.Warner Bros.

  • Movie studios have embraced streaming as the pandemic disrupted the theater industry.

  • In 2022, as studios enter a theatrical window, there’s a related worry: fewer releases.

  • The CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners is particularly concerned about the potential impact of big technologies.

The theater industry has faced many challenges and changes over the past two years amid the coronavirus pandemic, and this should not change in 2022.

One of the biggest concerns for exhibitors this year is the “reduction of the theatrical release list,” according to John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners.

Notably, he is concerned about the imminent purchase of the MGM movie studio by Amazon and how this could be “a potential harbinger of the impact of big tech.”

“MGM is making films for theatrical release and Amazon is focusing on Prime Video,” Fithian told Insider in a recent interview in December.

Still, he said theaters were having conversations with Netflix and Apple: “It makes sense that some of their films are hitting theaters. We’ll be looking for other vendors where we can find them.”

But overall, Hollywood will be releasing fewer films in theaters this year than it would have before the pandemic.

Fithian said there are typically 120 movies on the theatrical schedule in any given year. This year there are around 90, he said. And that could change as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt the film industry.

The pandemic has changed the way media companies view film distribution. As they reorganized around their streaming business, they embraced streaming as an alternative or supplement to theaters. Warner Bros. released all his movies last year simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. Disney has been experimenting with simultaneous releases at an additional cost to Disney + subscribers (or just released direct-to-stream movies, like Pixar’s “Luca”).

To the delight of exhibitors, Warner Bros. and other studios have promised exclusive windows for theatrical releases this year, with 45 days emerging as a potential new standard as opposed to the traditional 75 to 90 days, although not concrete for all releases.

“It won’t be the windows of yore, but the 45-day windows won’t be a fixed thing,” Fithian said. “Some movies will have longer windows and some will have shorter windows.”

But a sign of how the pandemic has accelerated the shift to streaming, studios are no longer just making movies for theaters.

Disney is should release 30 films in 2022, half of which will debut on its streaming services, including a new “Ice Age” movie for Disney + this month and a new “Predator” movie, called “Prey,” for Hulu. Warner Bros. is directing a “Batgirl” movie for HBO Max.

Warner Bros. is expected to be absorbed into Discovery this year once the Discovery and WarnerMedia merger is approved. Fithian is less concerned about this than the MGM / Amazon deal, although Warner Bros. makes films for both Max and theaters.

“Warner Bros. is changing ownership, and the team at Warner Bros. really believe in theatrical releases,” said Fithian. “For 100 years, they have believed in cinema. With AT&T, they change the whole model. But they will not be in charge.”

Read the original article on Business intern


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