Bob Iger Doesn’t Believe Audiences Will Ever Fully Return To Cinemas


The COVID pandemic has created a huge shift in our world and many businesses have gone under, while others just barely survive. One industry that many worried about was the movie theater industry. During 2020 and even into 2021 a lot of theaters were shut down and movies were released onto streaming services like HBO Max or Disney+, for a fee.

The theater industry has been limping along and it definitely has seen improvements since 2020. Spider-Man: No Way Home broke records that weren’t just “pandemic” based and gave us the first glimpse of pre-pandemic numbers. But is that enough to bring people back to the movies regularly and for the cinemas to recover to what they were?

Ex-Disney CEO Bob Iger doesn’t think so. I’m actually inclined to agree.

Iger thinks that it isn’t just the pandemic that created the situation but the rise of streaming services and the access to movie quality entertainment without the expense and travel. I know prior to the pandemic I heard many discussions about people hoping that studios would just release their films straight to POV or streaming instead of theatrically.

For years the window from theater to digital has been shrinking and now, due to the pandemic, studios are foregoing the theater all together, or only offering short theatrical windows ahead of streaming. Disney has been doing ones that are only 45 days of exclusivity.

Now, according to an interview in the New York Times, Bob Iger thinks it sped up the inevitable:

What Covid did is, it forced people in, and people still wanted to be entertained, so they figured out how to use— basically, I call it app-based television or app-based entertainment. And they got really comfortable with it. They not only like it. They discovered that there’s huge choice. There’s tremendous amount of quality for everybody.

He also believes that with the change will come fewer films released theatrically. The ones that will make it that far will need to be “event’ type movies that people feel they need to see in the theaters. Like Spider-Man: No Way Home. Disney owns a lot of the franchises that offer those types of “event” films.

Growing up I remember when movies would remain in the theater for months and sometimes they would be given multiple releases. We didn’t have the access to POV and streaming then. If it came out on VHS or DVD you could buy it, but that could take months or years. There were also far fewer films released every year.  With streaming we have a constant flow of films and shows whenever we want. All of this would impact the box office moving forward.

Of course some theaters will remain, but the cinema will likely look different as we move past the pandemic and onward. I think Iger is right about that.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

Source: Cartoon Brew, New York Times

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