Video on demand changing the movie industry post COVID-19

Michael Burns

Theaters across the world went dark amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, threatening the sustainability of the current film industry, and forcing the hands of production companies. Studios are delaying films, releasing VOD (video on demand), and utilizing streaming services. The current state of the industry is alarming, and it’s unclear what it’ll look like in the coming years. 

Production companies faced a dilemma when theaters across the globe closed their doors, delaying many of the anticipated box office hits, like “Black Widow”, and “Wonder Woman 1984”, which were set to release in 2020, were delayed. Unfortunately, most delayed films won’t hit the big screen until 2021. 

Other delayed films, including Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” and Niki Caro’s “Mulan” were released to the public amidst the pandemic. Disney, with a big flick on their hands, chose to put “Mulan” exclusively on their streaming platform “Disney +”, which earned $269 million overseas. On the other hand, Warner Bros decided to take a risk and present “Tenet” on the big screen, gaining $300 million worldwide. 

The profits of films going VOD, like “Mulan” and “Trolls World Tour”, will inevitably affect the film industry and how production companies handle releases. Streaming services give films the chance to be released to the public without the cost associated with theatrical release, thus influencing executives to turn toward platforms like “Netflix” and “Disney +” for film releases. This hurts the sustainability of the big screen. 

Films are necessary for theatres to exist, and with the delay of major blockbusters, it’s putting many businesses at risk. After the James Bond franchise’s “No Time to Die” was shelved until 2021, the Regal Movie Chain announced that they would be closing all 563 U.S. Theatres for the second time in 2020. Additionally, AMC (the largest theater chain in the U.S.) is in big financial trouble, as they’re expected to post a $2.4 billion first-quarter loss in the wake of the pandemic. 

As a result of theaters closing, the box office across the globe has dropped significantly, and streaming services have risen in popularity. The climate in which the industry functions isn’t how it was a year ago, and it may never return to what it used to be.