Theatrical Windows Are Being Broken As Films Go Straight To VOD

Movie Theaters around the world are being forced to close their doors amid the Coronavirus outbreak. This has left Film Distributors with little choice but to abandon the theatrical window in an unprecedented move to get films in front of audiences before the opportunity goes a miss.

Already we have seen Universal Pictures break the theatrical window to get Invisible Man, The Hunt, Emma and Trolls World Tour in front of home audiences for a suggested price of $19.99. These films will be made available on most leading transactional streaming services. Warner Bros. is also moving Birds of Prey to streaming services after a short theatrical run proved ineffective. Disney also announced they are adding Frozen 2 to Disney+ three months ahead of schedule and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to other streaming platforms. All of this comes as many major films have had their release dates pushed back, including Mulan, Fast & Furious 9, and the new James Bond film No Time To Die. 

Professionals from across the Film Industry believe this could pave the way for regular day-and-date releases, a move that would see the end of theatrical exclusivity. Yes, the current times are rather extraordinary, but what we’re talking about here is something that has been discussed for the last decade. The theatrical window is shrinking and streaming services are now the leading entertainment option for consumers. If this day-and-date model were to be adopted going forward, Cinemas would have to innovate fast to keep growing their business. Theatrical exclusivity has given Cinemas a comfortable operating environment. Currently most have no presence outside of the theatrical window, hence why the Coronavirus shutdown is leaving them with few options.

So far Cinemas have been forced to close around the world, including in major markets like China, South Korea, India, Italy, France, Spain, United States, United Kingdom and Canada. The silver lining is consumers still believe in the theatrical experience, they’re just not risking it under the current circumstances. Assuming all of this Coronavirus lock down washes over, which may still take some time, people will inevitably start adventuring back to the cinema.

Our biggest concern right now is that Cinemas are not prepared to weather the coronavirus storm and are unable to recuperate business growth when the sun eventually comes out. Although the industry is currently experiencing extraordinary circumstances, there is a high chance it results in a larger industry shift towards regular day-and-date releases. We want to make sure you’re prepared for this likelihood. 

Our position is the same as it has always been: Cinemas need to act now by launching a cinema-branded streaming service. This way they will be able to sell premium films directly to home audiences and keep their cinema brand top of mind amid this tragic industry shutdown.

If you are now in a position where launching your own cinema-branded streaming service appears to be the right decision moving forward, then we would recommend contacting us now to discuss your options. We have a purpose-built solution called Screen Plus that enables Cinemas to sell premium content to home audiences.

Talk to a video expert about how we can help you deliver the best viewing experience. Everywhere.

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