The Future of Movies in Theaters, Homes

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Streaming service Amazon Prime Video includes many Early Access Movies subscribers can pay to watch.

For the majority of 2020, movie theaters had to close their doors due to the coronavirus, resulting in big changes in the world of film entertainment. Now that things are starting to open again, the future of the way we see movies is up in the air.
While some movies were released in new ways during 2020, others were delayed. Some were simply set back a few months and other highly anticipated movies like A Quiet Place Part II, which was originally set to premiere in March 2020, were pushed back over a year.
According to Corinne Riechert at cnet.com, “The next James Bond installment has been delayed again due to COVID-19, with the movie pushed until April 2, 2021.”
However, many movies were not delayed and premiered during the pandemic on streaming services. New movies that were planned for theaters could, and still can, be rented on services such as FandangoNow, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max for around $19.99.
According to Joan Solsman at cnet.com, “At the same time, the so-called streaming wars paraded new and revamped online video services in front of us just as we all became stuck at home. Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, AT&T’s HBO Max and Comcast’s Peacock are all taking on stalwarts like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, vying to dominate the future of television.”
Though Disney Plus is like Netflix in the sense that you pay a monthly subscription for access to everything on the service, they have recently added premier access to their service. Premier access allows Disney Plus subscribers to watch select new movies as many times as they would like for an additional $30 fee before they release to all subscribers.
The addition of highly anticipated movies to streaming services may have been popular among consumers stuck at home, but like anything new it did cause problems.
According to Solsman, “But the Trolls World Tour’s online release– what’s known as premium video on demand, or PVOD — triggered a Netflix-level backlash from cinemas. AMC, for one, said it would ban all future Universal pictures from its screens.”
In early December, Warner Bros. announced that every movie it releases in 2021 will be available on HBO Max the same day it is released in theatres. The company started by releasing ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ on HBO Max Christmas day.
According to warnerbros.com, “Warner Bros. will continue to exhibit the films theatrically worldwide while adding an exclusive one month access period on the HBO Max streaming platform in the U.S. concurrent of the film’s domestic release.”
Though all of the films Warner Bros. release in theaters throughout 2021 will stream the day of, that is just one company of many that have highly anticipated films coming out this year. So while there will definitely be a way to see the most anticipated movies of 2021 without going to the theaters, not every movie is promised to be able to be seen from home.
According to Solsman, “Universal has been striking deals with major cinema chains. The deals would give cinemas at least 17 days until Universal, DreamWorks Animation and Focus Feature films have the option to be rented online. In some cases the theatrical window could last 31 days.”
Although getting early access to films seems like a good thing when a majority of people are stuck at home and have little entertainment, this situation makes us ask if getting movies so soon will make people impatient in the future.
One consideration consumers may have on whether to watch movies in theaters or online while both options are becoming available is pricing. While watching movies in a theatre may get a family out of the house for a bit, it may be cheaper for them to rent a movie for $20.
“I like being able to watch movies at home because I can lay in my bed and eat whatever I have in my house for free,” junior Ella Harrison said.
While some may prefer to see movies from the comfort of their home, there are still many who are ready to get back to the experience of the movie theater. A survey of 16,000 Americans done by movie ticket website Atom Tickets shows that 40% are ready to go back to movie theaters immediately.
Though there is a possibility of the industry going back to the pre-pandemic way of releasing movies, the contuitation of the at-home releases into 2021 could mark the point of no return.
According to Solsman, “HBO Max’s move marked the point of no return. Bringing some of the world’s flashiest films straight to streaming was one thing; committing to it for more than a year signaled the end of cinema’s primacy in movie distribution.”
The world of movies–like the rest of the world–is constantly changing, and only time can tell exactly what the future will hold. It can be expected though that many people will watch the biggest movies of 2021 on their favorite streaming services.