Disney shifting focus from theatrical releases to streaming

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Disney shifting focus from theatrical releases to streaming

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Postby El Squibbonator » Fri Oct 16, 2020 3:01 pm

So here's something. Apparently Disney has announced that, in the near future, it intends to shift its focus from theatrical films to streaming. The way I see it, this could be either a good thing or a bad thing.
On the one hand, Disney pulling out of the theatrical film market could give other studios that still make theatrical films more room to breathe. On the other hand, this could encourage those other studios to do likewise, and contribute to the inexorable death of theaters as we know them.
Your thoughts?
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Postby Zusuchan » Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:31 am

El Squibbonator, that's something for interesting discussion, certainly, but I'd say it deserves its own thread. Perhaps you'll create your own thread or let me do it? There's no point in derailing this thread.

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Re: Disney shifting focus from theatrical releases to streaming

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Postby Blockio » Sat Oct 17, 2020 2:54 pm

I went ahead and split the topic off; I think I did it properly now.
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Re: Disney shifting focus from theatrical releases to streaming

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Postby Zusuchan » Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:24 am

It's worth pointing out that while Disney is going to, in their own word, "dramatically tilt" towards streaming, there's still going to be a rather huge amount of works that will be released in theatres and that Disney quite honestly would never release the bigger films on streaming first unless the world entirely is screwed over by a catastrophic event, such as COVID-19 developing a new, super-lethal mutation or something. There is no way they're going to let MCU and Star Wars get out of theatres-point in case, despite Black Widow being pretty much a finished film, there's no interest shown on behalf of Disney to release it on their streaming platform, unlike Mulan and Soul. What this may mean is that Disney is instead going to attempt to mine the commercial potential of streaming. For one, they're going to continue their previous plan of a) creating smaller-quality shows specifically for Disney+ so as to give it some added revenue, however small, b) creating several shows set in pre-existing, commercially viable universes (such as The Mandalorian and WandaVision) to generate larger interest for the streaming platform and c) release their big theatrical films after some time, not to mention the flurry of old products already there.

What Disney probably realized is that streaming is potentially a goldmine in terms of getting even more money and the best way to do so while still being hugely culturally relevant is to create cross-products, in a sense. Their MCU tv shows have already been confirmed to be a part of MCU's "Phase Four", which means that all the big MCU fans will want to-and, if they want to completely understand all the multiple threads, even need to-get Disney+ so as to watch these new shows. WandaVision has already been revealed to have ties to the Doctor Strange sequel and this same tactic's been used in the theatrical side of the MCU too-all the team-up films and characters appearing in each other's films such as Iron Man in the first Spider-Man film, Doctor Strange in the proposed Spider-Man 3 etc.

With Star Wars, there's no way to create the same kind of cross-product, but it's still one of the most commercially viable and culturally relevant franchises in the world which generates money immensely even when met with critical bombasting (The Rise of Skywalker had insanely bad reviews and still managed to make a billion dollars at the box office) and the only thing Disney needs to do is Star Wars shows recognizably set in the Star Wars world that the larger fanbase would like.

The current Coronavirus debacle has probably made Disney realize the potential of streaming and from now on, they're going to be releasing a lot of their films that don't have the cultural relevance of a MCU or a Star Wars or even a Pirates of the Caribbean into streaming instead, but people will have to pay for watching it nonetheless. This way, they're going to get their money and pretty much straight to their pocket while minimizing costs on advertisement and focusing their big theatrical plans on the internationally recognizable really high-budget franchises.

In other words, while Pixar films and animation remakes may get to streaming entirely from this point on, don't expect the same to be true of their biggest moneymakers.


In terms of other studios also moving to streaming, I don't think that's likely. Who else really has the insane amount of projects that Disney has and the potential for releasing most of their films on streaming? Yes, they're probably going to be influenced by this and put even more money and time into streaming (Warner Bros. is already doing stuff with HBO Max), but I don't think anyone else is really going to go as far as Disney-for now.

When it comes to theatres, I'm not worried about them dying, since the cinema experience is still such a thoroughly powerful one that people are going to want to visit theatres. What I'm worried is that all the more ambitious, independent, not-part-of-a-huge-franchise films are going to only live on streaming, with the theatres becoming the exclusive playground of the world's biggest film franchises.

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Re: Disney shifting focus from theatrical releases to streaming

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:15 am

The market is uneasy right now. Sony is considering not making big-budget films anymore. Studios are very unsure if they'll see a return on investment on their larger, theatrically dependent projects. (Projects that need large box-office returns in the first couple weeks of release.) All of that is to say, Disney shifting towards streaming will probably also means less big-budget movies from the House of Mouse for a while now. I, personally, was hoping that the studio's timidity towards large-budget films would result in more mid/low budget projects getting in theaters (and maybe they'll still do that), but simply release that directly to streaming make a whole lot more sense to these studios.

Also, I feel kinda salty that theaters are opening up in Japan while American theaters are still at risk of going extinct. I guess I can label the death of the cinema as a unique aspect of "The American Way" or "The American Dream" or some garbage like that.

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Re: Disney shifting focus from theatrical releases to streaming

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Postby Zusuchan » Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:58 am

If the COVID-19 crisis doesn't get better soon and becomes more of a significantly long-term event, then I can see studios putting money on streaming first. But I don't think we're quite there yet, though I do live in a country that has handled COVID relatively well, compared to the US at least. I do think that the studios aren't going to let their biggest moneymakers in terms of feature films into streaming just yet. Streaming has not generally offered the kind of cultural relevance theatres have-even Netflix's arguably biggest hit Stranger Things has silently faded from the mainstream view and become less relevant simply due to delays. Of course, a new season is going to hit the hype train back up again, but streaming doesn't really offer what the cinema does-and cinema's better ability to give a true experience is a big part of that. Disney shareholder Dan Loeb has been talking publicly about making Disney+ the company's main revenue generator, starting from actually making Black Widow available there. The fact this hasn't happened yet is indicative that Disney doesn't want to lose the power the big screen offers; they might start seriously considering it when it becomes apparent this current crisis is going to go on for a while and there's no point in endlessly delaying any more, but as of now I don't think any of the top brass really wants to do that.

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Re: Disney shifting focus from theatrical releases to streaming

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Postby silvermoonlight » Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:43 am

I'm deeply interested in this in general as I recall speaking to someone a while back on the idea of what if Hollywood had it that you could watch on TV rather than at cinema, or you have both cinema/TV release together hence making DVD/Blu-ray sales quicker. I think during Covid-19 that is the way all studios will have to go, until they get the vaccine sorted, I think Disney is the first to realize this though I see more studios doing the same later down the line as I think it could be a number of years before everything returns to normality and I think a lot of media and how it's brought out will never be the same again.
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Re: Disney shifting focus from theatrical releases to streaming

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Postby El Squibbonator » Tue Nov 10, 2020 11:46 am

Does this mean that risky, low-budget, non-franchise movies will probably never be released to theaters again?
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Re: Disney shifting focus from theatrical releases to streaming

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:29 pm

^ Im not sure. I mean, it was looking that way for a while before Covid hit, but now it looks like studios are timid about big budget films, so it looks like all movies are gonna be substantially cut in budget. And if they still want a theatrical release, that would mean all of the theatrical releases will be lower budget films for a while.

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Re: Disney shifting focus from theatrical releases to streaming

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Postby Zusuchan » Fri Nov 20, 2020 9:22 am

Relevant: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat- ... ers-dec-25

Wonder Woman 1984 is going to open in cinemas and HBO Max on Dec.25. It seems that WB has realized that COVID is screwing up all previous plans to such an extent it's better to just take it in stride and release their next hit film on a streaming platform as well. I know I previously said that COVID could make streaming a more important part of many studios' plans and media releases than they originally would have been, and it seems this is an indicator that the ball has dropped. Considering WB's already heady investment into HBO Max and their interest in a "cross-content" with DCEU content already going there partially as well (Snyder Cut, Gunn's Peacemaker miniseries), it's not entirely impossible that streaming really is going to get more attention from them from now on. Now what's left is just how well 1984 does and what the potential implications of that are, as well as how this could affect the ideas of other studios.

El Squibbonator: I think that lower-budget films are having it a bit easier with COVID because they don't require the same humungous amounts of money and complex production as the big tentpole blockbusters to make their money back, let alone be a commercial success. And quite frankly, a lot of the indie people never even cared about that last part anyway. Then again, that's not likely to make people more interested in quality anyway and with studios moving over to streaming, it doesn't seem there'll be any lasting impact on which films are more popular and revered.

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Re: Disney shifting focus from theatrical releases to streaming

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Postby dzzthink » Fri Nov 20, 2020 1:00 pm

I don't think american cinemas are dying necessarily, but rather evolving. In recent news, Universal struck a deal with the cinema chain Cinemark to shorten the time for a movie to get from the big screen to home releases. This means that there is less risk for a movie to hit-or-miss on the big screen and potentially do better on other mediums. Universal can put new movies on premium video-on-demand platforms, whereas for bigger films that have a big box office opening (>$50 million weekend ticket sales) will stay on for around 31 days.


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