Ever since Universal, MGM/United Artists and Eon pulled No Time To Die off the release schedule in April last year, triggering other studios to follow suit in the face of COVID19, the cinematic landscape has been something of a wasteland. Movies have been pulled for the best part of a year.
When Disney pushed Mulan direct to Disney+, Universal pushed Trolls World Tour to VOD and Warner Bros . dived all in on their day and date HBO Max / theatrical release aligned day and date strategy, it seemed like bad news for theaters. Directors such as Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve may have protested, but it seemed the writing was on the wall.
The dust is settling now. Universal will only hold a movie in theaters for 17 days if it opens to less than $50 million. If the box office doesn’t arrive on that opening weekend due to closures or post-COVID fear then even Fast And Furious 9 could be in your home in a little over two weeks from theatrical opening.
Paramount have also rung the bell on the old cinema window. Some big movies including A Quiet Place 2, Top Gun: Maverick and Mission Impossible 7 will all appear on Paramount+ one month after theatrical release.
The big news here, after all the speculation of nearly $1 billion deals for streamers, is that No Time To Die will also make it’s way to Paramount+ after one month. This is due to the Paramount deal with MGM that includes their catalogue in the absence of a streamer at MGM. This is also likely to be why No Time To Die has been moved up the release schedules by one month, into October from November – to clear theaters in time for the growing Christmas home streaming and PVOD market.
Paramount+ is the new name for CBS All Access and various other minor platforms, being re-badged and relaunched. They suddenly have some serious horsepower there with things like Top Gun, Mission Impossible and Bond all lined up. It is also the home of all things Star Trek.
Now the final nail in the coffin is about to be delivered by Disney. With Star Wars, Marvel and their own slate in their stable this is a big move. CEO, Bob Chapek has clearly seen enough in the numbers for Mulan and the tracking for Raya And The Last Dragon. The viewing figures Soul and The One and Only Ivan, going straight to Disney+ with no extra charge, were also said to be highly impressive.
Deadline have reported on a virtual investor call where the ground was laid for Disney to make a shift. Chapek says consumers demand a change after getting used to home viewing for more than a year and will not wait for a 90 day release window to expire:
“The consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before…particularly since now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting titles at home pretty much when they want them. So, I’m not sure there’s going back. But we certainly don’t want to do anything like cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run.”
There you have it. No going back. It is just two months until Black Widow and Cruella are due. The summer 2021 movie season was to have been opened on May 7th by Marvel and Disney with Black Widow then Cruella within a month, with Luca and The Jungle Cruise rounding out the Disney assault on the box-office. Marvel supremo Kevin Feige was known to be opposed to a hybrid release for Black Widow, but money talks.
WandaVision has officially opened Phase 4 of the MCU and it is known that everything is tied. Now that the train has left the station, there is no way to get off without messing with the entire MCU plans
Feige will know this.
Meanwhile, if you only have to wait 17 days for some brand new movie action at home, what will it take to get you back in the theater, particularly if you have a family so a trip for the whole tribe is either very expensive, or potentially requires babysitters?