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Eric Dolittle

The Streaming Wars: The End of Box Office As We Know It?

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I’ve had a long and stressful week and I have an essay for a class I hate due on Monday, so here’s a good way to procrastinate and get at least some writing practice in. And hey, it’s certainly a topical subject for the past few days, since the CC thread is nothing but Disney+ and HBO Max discussion.

 

It’s arguably ridiculous to question whether a new format of watching and viewing media will “kill” movie theaters,since that hasn’t come into fruition. Television was supposed to kill cinemas, VHS would make people stay home and avoid the movies. None of those items have truly harmed the moviegoing experience. We’re still seeing strong box office, and records are broken every year.

 

At this point, pretty much everybody knows that Disney, Warner and Uni have their own streaming service within the next few months. Apple is also creating their own, and will kick off the streaming wars in two days. But I feel like the way things are going, and how much money is being invested in these services and programs, this could negatively impact the box office. Maybe not to the extent that movie theaters will become obsolete, but impact could happen nonetheless. Unlike with television and VHS, which were largely released and developed by third parties, most of the new streaming platforms are from the studios/companies that make the big blockbuster tentpoles in the first place. We have companies like Disney and Warner and Universal dedicating millions of dollars on these platforms, and that should affect theatrical distribution and its future, right?

 

We’re already seeing some of streaming’s effects with services like Netflix and Amazon, as comedies and midbudget fare is almost entirely swept away from development slates. Even the films that are in theaters now aren’t even doing that great. Can’t prove it, but I feel like if Yesterday or Good Boys came out 10 years ago, they would have been much bigger deals. And with the way that streaming pretty much killed live TV, theatrical distribution isn’t that safe.

 

The one big thing that concerns me here is the introduction of Disney+. Also HBO Max, but Disney+ especially. It’s coming out in less than two weeks and there’s already a lot of hype for its launch, for kind of obvious reasons. While we won’t know how big the service will be, it’s fair to say it’s almost destined to be a success.

 

But that kind of leads into a bigger problem with the theatrical side of things, because I think, at least on the Disney side of things, Disney+ could hurt moviegoing. Sure, doubting Disney at the box office is the equivalent of believing Epstein committed suicide, but I feel like my concerns are kind of valid here. With the way ticket prices are going, and audiences more and more interested in waiting for streaming for anything that isn’t a special effects heavy tentpole (although that’s not entirely the fault of audiences), there’s a very strong possibility that people are more willing to wait a couple months for these new releases, so they can watch them for free. People already know these movies will be on Disney+ in a couple months, so why spend the money? Frozen 2 will probably be fine, and Marvel and Star Wars movies will probably be safe, since those movies are designed to be “hurry before spoilers”, but what about movies like Onward? Or Mulan? Or Soul? Or Jungle Cruise? Maybe not to the point where these movies will bomb, but could their potential be greatly diminished?

 

And sure, on paper, Disney taking a hit would be a bit of a positive for the other studios and the industry. But just because Disney might take a hit doesn’t mean other studios will get rewarded in return. There’s obviously no way to prove it, but outside of maybe one or two movies, would any of this year’s releases gain a substantial amount of money at the box office because Captain Marvel or Toy Story 4 didn’t exist? As much as we may not like Disney’s massive boom in success and popularity within the past couple years, as well as the huge discrepancy between Disney and other studios, it’s not difficult to say Disney is the one thing keeping the lights on when it comes to theatrical distribution.

 

HBO Max is also something WarnerMedia is investing a lot of money into. Granted, the press conference yesterday focused more on the TV side of things for obvious reasons. HBO is more synonymous with television than movies. But not only does AT&T already have plenty of creatives working on original content, including movies, they’re clearly setting it up as the domain for all future WB releases. They pushed DC hard during the conference, as well as mentioning their massive library of films and franchises, like LOTR and Lego and Matrix. For God’s sake, Warner mentioned they were going to put original DC movies on the service as HBO Max exclusives. DC! That’s the golden boy franchise for the company!

 

And yeah, DC movies and other films that rely on “watch before spoilers” should still do okay in theaters, like with Disney. But what about that Sopranos movie? Or that Elvis movie?

 

Even something like Peacock will probably get a lot of high-profile productions put into it. And once Universal’s HBO contract is up, you can bet we’ll see every upcoming Uni movie on the service. And yeah, Sony, Paramount, Lionsgate, and more still exist, but outside of a movie or two, they’re not really hitting any big numbers, especially compared to what the big three studios have done in the past couple years. And for all we know, they’re probably partnering with Apple or Netflix to create exclusive streaming content. In fact, yeah, with Apple and Netflix stealing movie stars and directors to make movies for them, that complicates things even further. 

 

So with streaming looking to be so big that even the old guard are starting to invest millions into these projects, what does that mean for theaters? What does that mean for certain studios? Or genres? Or ticket prices? Or attendance? Is the box office really going to be on the decline? Or is there really nothing to worry about?

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There's too much content, obviously most will be crap. Look at Apple. none of their shows are any good, apparently. i guess it's good for the stars/ writers who have no relevance for theaters anymore (aniston, whiterspoon etc. The usual suspects will continue being a force at the BO.

Edited by Alli

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I feel like everything will be fine as long as studios continue to produce theatrical product people actually want to see.

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People could watch Disney movies on Netflix a few months later, not sure watching them on Disney+ will change much.

 

But there are only so many billions to throw around for content (unless you're Tim Apple), maybe Disney will kill what's left of FOX to produce more TV shows and movies for D+ instead.

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2 hours ago, Eric Connor said:

And hey, it’s certainly a topical subject for the past few days, since the CC thread is nothing but Disney+ and HBO Max discussion.

Whats the CC thread?

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6 minutes ago, JGAR4LIFE said:

Whats the CC thread?

Classic Conversation. It's the thread where we talk about whatever's happening in the world not box office related.

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No. As someone tweeted recently:  the Golden Age of Television will become the Apocalypse of Streaming. Too many streamers is going to hurt that market, and to some extent everything will prove too confusing for consumers. 

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5 hours ago, Eric Connor said:

It’s arguably ridiculous to question whether a new format of watching and viewing media will “kill” movie theaters,since that hasn’t come into fruition.

It is not like it (combined with urban sprawling) didn't came somewhat close too:

 

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The number 

 

Movie theater went from in average over 1 time a week, to a bit less than 4 time a year now, the TV apparition impact on the movie theater industries was really giant in the 50s/60s  (weekly attendance dropped from 80 million in 1940 and 90 million in 1946 to 60 million in 1950 and 40 million in 1960, despite a demography explosion).

 

It is really possible that TV is pretty much all that matter in change, nothing since moved it much, would it be live TV, VHS tv, more convenient on demand tv, etc....

 

 

One possible scenario with digital hub, is a winner take all become way more possible (almost no one use the second best service after youtube and so on), content exclusivity will fight it for a long time, will see if it will hold up.

 

How much feature length content is a vestige of how movie had to be played back in the days and will survive, again will see. 

 

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No. The moviegoing experience will remain exactly as is. Smaller movies will probably struggle as normal apart from the big breakouts and the big tentpoles will continue to overperform.

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Excellent Essay, @Eric Connor and great talking points! Not in a place to sit and respond back, but I will try. 

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14 hours ago, Ryan Reynolds said:

somewhat , but more likely the final nail in the coffin for network tv

Get with the times, "network" is called "linear" now.  :gold:

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58 minutes ago, YourMother the Edgelord said:

And streaming becomes the exact same thing network tv was.

It's more like cable à la carte - not having to pay for the channels you don't want

 

Except internet prices keep going up and up...

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8 minutes ago, TalismanRing said:

It's more like cable à la carte - not having to pay for the channels you don't want

 

Except internet prices keep going up and up...

Considering how vast the offer for each channel is (not much if any specialization yet outside one horror and religious one) and the price point, it is quite the in between of the 2.

 

I feel like at the end for American's it will be much more content, better interface/access to it at maybe a better price before amortizing Internet into it, about the same after (if not higher)

 

For the rest of the world that was not used to USA TV pricing/quantity, it will be incredibly more content at a much higher price.

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I find that mid level movies have taken a hit.

 

A lot of people I think rather spend the 15-20 bucks to watch the big event films and wait for the regular comedies and such at home. 

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8 hours ago, MCKillswitch123 said:

No. The moviegoing experience will remain exactly as is. Smaller movies will probably struggle as normal apart from the big breakouts and the big tentpoles will continue to overperform.

This. The streaming services are going to hurt each other a lot more then they do theater box office.

Netflix is going to be the one taking the big hit. Let's face it,in streaming, Netflix was the 300 pound gorilla who could only be annoyed a little by the competion, but that is going to end.  But with Disney + it now had real competion,,, and other streaming services are coming..Apple seems to be willing to spend quite a bit on programming for it's upcoming streaming service. Netflix is not going to dominate the market the way it has in the past.

Edited by dudalb

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I think it might actually help theaters. You'll have to pay more and more for less content from now on and this might make spending those bucks for the theater instead like a better option again. 

 

 

The streeming system is very stressful with all it's variety and the need to book every service to be up to datew ith the current hypes. 

 

 

With the theaters, you have one medium to see it all at your choice. 

Edited by Poseidon
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Streaming is the new cable, so no.

 

The theater will still be the destination for EVENT VIEWING.

 

I don't think streaming platforms are releasing The Irishman / Avatar caliber movies every month. The best directors will still want their wares on the big stage.

Edited by lilmac

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The Shay doesn't watch TV - never have, never will.

 

There will be cinemas while I'm alive - and I will be in them, best seats, each Friday. It's cinema, or nothing.

 

Edited by shayhiri
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