EXTENDED CUT | THE FUTURE OF CI NEMA
Let’s start by talking about decisions studios have made as a result of Covid-19. Some have chosen to push back content, while others have released on home entertainment. Why is this? LIEVENS: Many studios thought the pandemic would only last a few months, so they decided to push back their content for release at a later time. But as the pandemic continued, the pushback on releasing content also extended. Universal Studios were the first to disrespect the theatrical window. Pre-pandemic, studios couldn’t release on home entertainment until 16 weeks after theatrical debut. Having just released some films before cinemas shut down, Universal made the bold move to put them out on home entertainment. That opened the door for other studios to follow suit. Obviously, these studios need to recoup a certain amount of money from each production – they could wait until cinemas reopen to release content, but it may not be the most commercially sensible thing to do, considering the huge backlog. A lot of films could end up cannibalising each other. But releasing content on home entertainment really depends on the
For example, cinema chains such as Curzon and Everyman were doing well above the average market share last summer when cinemas reopened briefly. That’s because these cinema chains offer a more boutique experience, providing nice drinks and food – they also play content that’s already available to watch on demand. Big cinema chains don’t really have much else to offer other than a big screen – and it’s interesting, because they’re the most panicked about streaming. When cinemas do reopen again, I think there needs to be more acknowledgment of the consumer – either with a boutique experience, or things like Q&As, so the cinema functions as part of a community. When people feel like it’s their cinema, they are more respectful of film programme curation. They will even consider watching films they might not have otherwise seen. Cinemas need to think about what makes them unique if they’re to do well.
infrastructures these studios have in place. Disney already had Disney+, so it was easy for them. We’ll never know if they planned to release as much as they did, but I know Disney+ is instrumental for their content strategy going forward. Likewise, Warner Brothers has a set-up HBO Max, which is yet to roll out in the UK, but is expected by the end of the year. I heard that Warner Brothers are releasing Wonder Woman in cinemas and on HBO Max simultaneously. LIEVENS: Yes, doing this gives customers a choice. It also helps these studios maintain relationships with cinemas. Some films that went straight to HBO Max over the past year are also getting a retrospective theatrical release. With the option to watch films in cinemas and at home, does there need to be a change in how cinemas screen content to keep ticket sales up? LIEVENS: Anything you can do to add value to the experience works.
When cinemas reopen, there needs to be more acknowledgement of the consumer
28 DEF I N I T ION | MAY 2021
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