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The number of online exclusive movies has doubled since 2017

05 Apr 2022 | Rasmus Larsen |

The pandemic forced studios to release some movies on streaming services but it was a trend even before covid, according to the Motion Picture Association's annual report.

Streaming movies

Netflix released its first two original movies in 2015 with Beasts of No Nation and The Ridiculous 6. Ever since, Netflix has increased its annual output at breakneck speed to become the biggest film studio in Hollywood. It took just 6 years. Netflix's rapid expansion is one of the main reasons why the number of online exclusive movies increased every year in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The pandemic accelerated a trend that was already underway, but covid has nevertheless had a big impact on Hollywood. In 2020 for the first time, Disney shifted theatrical releases such as Hamilton, Mulan and Soul to debut exclusively or simultaneously on Disney+. Apple TV+ released Greyhound. The Motion Picture Association's annual report includes data on the trend. It reveals that the number of online exclusive movies doubled between 2017 and 2020, according to analyst firm Ampere. - "In 2021, there were 179 original films exclusive to online streaming services, comparable to 2020," the report noted.


Graph: MPA

The estimates reflect full-length (70+ minutes) original movies that were released exclusively in the U.S. on the following streaming services: Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock, Roku, Showtime, and Starz. Movies with any theatrical release, including limited release, are not included in the figures.

Will it last?

The pandemic is fading for now but Disney has already released several new movies exclusively on Disney+ this year. The company has announced plans for further Disney+ releases including Pinocchio starring Tom Hanks. Netflix will drop at least one new movie every single week of 2022 while Amazon has started to experiment with online exclusive releases, i.e. Hotel Transylvania 4. Warner Bros' HBO Max experiment is over but the theatrical window has been shortened from 90 days to 45 days, which appears to be the new industry standard. Paramount and Universal have also announced a 45-day theatrical window for new major releases.

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