Is PVOD The Future of Hollywood Releases? North America Theatre Owners Hope Not


Lately there has been a lot of talk about how the Coronavirus pandemic and shut-down could lead to more permanent changes in the release of films.

It has recently been reported by the Wall Street Journal that Trolls World Tour made $95 million in the first 19 days of their PVOD (Rental of new release from home premium-video-on-demand.)

Now the National Association of Theatre Owners President and CEO John Fithian is pushing back. They released the following statement:

This performance is indicative of hundreds of millions of people isolated in their homes seeking entertainment, not a shift in consumer movie viewing preferences. It is not surprising that people under shelter-in-home ordinances for weeks on end with increasingly limited entertainment options would take advantage of the movie’s direct-to-VOD move to keep children entertained, even at a premium price.

It’s no secret that movie theaters are worried about the possibility of PVOD releases becoming the new normal and cutting them out.

Now Universal has given them something to worry about and they are trying to minimize the success by saying it was because it was marketed for theatrical release.

Universal heavily marketed the title as a theatrical release, in theaters and elsewhere, for weeks on end. That is unlikely to recur in normal times, and those costs haven’t been disclosed. While Universal may be pleased with the PVOD results of Trolls World Tour, this outcome should not be interpreted as a sign of a ‘new normal’ for Hollywood.

Universal does not have reason to use unusual circumstances in an unprecedented environment as a springboard to bypass true theatrical releases. Theaters provide a beloved immersive, shared experience that cannot be replicated – an experience that many of the VOD viewers of this film would have participated in had the world not been sequestered at home, desperate for something new to watch with their families. We are confident that when theaters reopen, studios will continue to benefit from the global theatrical box office, followed by traditional home release.

Well, actually, studios can release their products however they want to.

Most are likely going to continue releasing theatrically for “box office” bragging rights, but people have been questioning why we still need movie theaters for years. I think that NATO is aware of that and it’s understandable that they are doing as much damage control as they can.

More and more companies are buying into streaming.

How long until we see the Netflix model of “online only” release move onto other services? Disney is already having Artemis Fowl go directly to Disney+.  Now Fandango, who’s co-owned by Comcast (NBC Universal) and AT&T (Warner Media,) is buying Vudu. Both Fandango Now and Vudu’s Theater at Home offered PVOD titles.

Now maybe Universal did this to recoup costs during a time when people were stuck at home? It is possible that we could see a shift in how movies are presented going forward, or at least more options for the consumer.

What do you think? Comment and let us know.

Source: Deadline, Wall Street Journal

Special thanks to Luni Corp @CorpLuni on Twitter


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