The strategy of releasing movies on streaming services and in theatres on the same day is "dead," according to the National Association of Theater Owners.
"I am pleased to announce that simultaneous release is dead as a serious business model, and piracy is what killed it," declared John Fithian, the group's president/CEO during his opening speech at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.
During the pandemic, several Hollywood studios – including Warner Bros and Universal Pictures – experimented with same-day releases to boost their streaming businesses (HBO Max is part of Warner Bros.; NBCUniversal owns Peacock).
But, after releasing major films such as Wonder Woman 1984, The Suicide Squad, Dune and The Matrix 4 on HBO Max and in theatres for the first 30 days, Warner Bros. abandoned the policy in 2022 and committed to giving cinemas a 45-day window.
It's no secret that cinema owners dislike same-day releases. Many argue that the moment a good-quality pirate copy becomes available online, box office sales dry up faster than a vampire in the sun.
Fithian’s remarks echo those of Charles Rivkin, CEO of the Motion Picture Association, who told theatre owners at CinemaCon that, "pre-release piracy can take away as much as 20% of box office revenue – your revenue. We [must] continue to build a culture that recognises piracy for what it is – theft, pure and simple."
Is the simultaneous release soon to become a relic of the pandemic? Maybe not entirely. Disney continues to release a handful of movies – most recently Turning Red – on its Disney+ streaming platform, although the next Pixar blockbuster, Lightyear, will be exclusive to cinemas.
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