As the coronavirus pandemic continues to shut down movie theaters across the globe, studios are getting creative. Recently released films that have already earned the bulk of their box office haul such as Universal’s The Invisible Man and Pixar’s Onward are being re-routed to video on demand and other at-home platforms. Upcoming films that no longer have a guaranteed foothold at the box office—such as mid-budget dramas, comedies and certain animated fare—are also finding new releases outlets. That’s why Universal is set to release Trolls World Tour via VOD and why Paramount sold off romantic comedy The Lovebirds to Netflix. But as we’ve covered in detail before, don’t expect any major blockbuster tentpole movies to make the jump.
Warner Bros. recently confirmed that the highly-anticipated summer blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 will hit theaters, even in a delayed fashion, rather than streaming. It’s a sentiment that the National Association of Theater Owners expects to carry forward among all major studios.
“We don’t see any other studio doing that with their major titles,” John Fithian, the president of NATO, told CNBC. “Literally, it’s only one movie from one studio where the signal has been a change in the business model. All the rest of the movies will come back up this fall and into next year with the same kind of business model we had before the crisis.”
Sorry, folks, Marvel’s Black Widow isn’t coming to Disney+ following it’s postponement.
Heading into 2020, the media entertainment business was estimated at $720 billion. The theatrical film industry earned $15 billion in revenue alone last year across tickets sales and concessions. Analysts expect the coronavirus to cost Hollywood upwards of $20 billion this year. But it is precisely because of the economics that major studios won’t sacrifice the multi-pronged revenue opportunities that potential billion-dollar blockbusters represent for short-term VOD and streaming sales.
Despite the unprecedented financial downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak, Fithian is confident the movie industry will survive.
“The movie cinema business in this country and around the world is very, very strong despite what some pundits might try to say,” Fithian said. “We went from $15 billion a year to zero last week. This past weekend was the first weekend in the hundred-year history of the cinema business when we collected zero dollars from ticket sales.”