The coronavirus scare is legit hitting almost every sector, and one of the worst-hit is probably the film industry. Over the last few weeks, a number of big banner movies have been delayed as a precautionary measure. No Time to Die, Mulan, New Mutants, F9, A Quiet Place Part II and a host of other movies have now been delayed indefinitely. However, this has brought the question of why these movies are not being released on streaming services instead.
I mean, if you take Disney, for example, they can just release these movies on Disney Plus or Hulu. A year ago, this feat would probably not be possible. But now, with Disney Plus in almost every home, it is an easy solution to these release woes. There are probably two routes that can be taken – put the movies for rental on iTunes and Amazon or release them on Disney Plus and Hulu.
Other studios, like Magnolia Pictures, have delayed the release of its documentary Slay the Dragon. They furthermore changed the distribution release so that it’s available to rent from digital services. Plus, another studio in China made one of its biggest films of the year free to all subscribers on its own streaming service.
However, studios like Disney earn a huge return on investment when they release tentpole movies in theatres. Add to that, the global box office in 2019 saw $42.2 billion – up 1% from 2018. Frankly, no amount of streaming subscriptions can match that kind of money.
Disney accounted for 40% of the total domestic box office last year and generated $13 billion worldwide. Additionally, the James Bond franchise was estimated to be worth around $20 billion in 2015. Moreover, A Quiet Place grossed $340 million worldwide – that is an impressive feat for a horror movie without pre-existing IP. So naturally, no studio is willing to throw away that kind of money, even if this means losing out on marketing costs.
Moreover, Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, Sony and Universal all have a very strong bond with theatres. On top of that, if you think about bringing guaranteed $1 billion global box office hit movies like Mulan, Black Widow, No Time to Die and Wonder Woman 1984 to Disney Plus and HBO Max – well, that’s just bad business decision for everyone involved.