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Same-day theatrical and streaming releases are dead, says theater owners CEO

05 May 2022 | Rasmus Larsen |

Piracy killed the simultaneous release, according to the president of the theater owners association. Streaming premieres are alive.

While movie theaters were forced to close their doors during the lockdowns or reduce capacity, movie studios such as Disney, Universal and Warner Bros experimented with simultaneous releases, a shorter window of exclusivity, and streaming premieres.

The simultaneous release is dead as a business model, if you ask the movie theaters.

- "I am pleased to announce that simultaneous release is dead as a serious business model, and piracy is what killed it," John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), said at CinemaCon according The Hollywood Reporter. "When a pristine copy of a movie makes its way online and spreads, it has a very damaging impact on our industry."

He elaborated:

- "When analyzing title after title, it becomes very clear that spikes in piracy are most drastic when a movie is first available to watch in the home: It doesn’t matter if it’s available via premium video-on-demand or subscription video-on-demand."

- "Robust theatrical windows protect against piracy. If a major title that people are clamoring to see in theaters is released too quickly to the home and then pirated, the temptation to stay home and watch pirated films becomes greater for many potential moviegoers."

Disney The Premiere

Disney's Black Widow was released simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access

Streaming premieres

WarnerMedia decided to release all Warner Bros movies in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously in 2021. The parties have since come to an agreement to have movies stay exclusive to theaters for 45 days (as opposed to 90 days before covid-19). Disney is taking a more flexible approach where some movies debut exclusively on Disney+, most recently with Turning Red, while others play exclusively in theaters for 30 to 70 days. Even as covid-19 eases, Disney will continue to release some movies exclusively on Disney+ including the upcoming Pinocchio starring Tom Hanks. Also read: The number of online exclusive movies has doubled since 2017 Apple TV+ and Netflix also release new movies on their respective streaming services. Netflix is planning to debut at least one new movie every single week of 2022. Amazon has started experimented with streaming premieres such as Hotel Transylvania 4. The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) on the other hand highlighted Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Batman as post-covid success stories. Delayed theatrical releases such as Top Gun: Maverick and Minions: The Rise of Gru will debut this summer. - Source: NATO via Hollywood Reporter

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