Exhibitors, studios, and Hollywood stars teamed up to deliver a unified message at last week’s CinemaCon conference: the biggest films are back on the big screen.
In his state of the union speech, NATO President & CEO John Fithian declared that the experiment with day & date release has ended. At key moments during the pandemic, studios decided to shift major titles to streaming, in some cases releasing films to theatres and streaming simultaneously and in others bypassing theatres entirely.
Movies such as BLACK WIDOW, DUNE, SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY, PAW PATROL: THE MOVIE had originally been developed with plans to become major theatrical releases. However, while the pandemic was limiting moviegoing, studios justified the change of plans by saying that they were giving audiences choices. They were also pushing hard to lure new subscribers to the in-house streaming services.
Fithian pointed out that day & date releasing also resulted in a dramatic increase in piracy because it serves up pristine versions of major new releases to the bootleggers. This undercuts the studios’ interests since these increases in piracy wind up decreasing revenues from the box office and streaming subscriptions. Fithian went further to connect the outcomes from day & date releasing to “illegal activities like gambling, money laundering, tax evasion, drugs, grand theft auto, and prostitution.”
At the conference, studios including Paramount, Warner Bros, Universal, and Disney all committed to supporting an exclusive theatrical window for the most widely anticipated summer movies which include TOP GUN: MAVERICK, BULLET TRAIN, ELVIS, LIGHTYEAR, and NOPE. Unlike last year’s CinemaCon in August which was still heavily marked by the pandemic, attendees at this year’s conference remarked on how “normal” the event felt, and expressed optimism over the upcoming summer slate of films.