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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Moviegoers : Dazed & Confused

 Where, When, and How do You View the Latest Movie?

Not only can you not afford to sign up for every streaming platform but who would want to. Consumers are exasperated as new movie distribution is regularly established, re-scheduled, then reset again and again. 

For the last 100 years, there was only one place to view new films, at the cinema. Now, the line between streaming and theatrical release is very blurred. The burden of figuring out where and when a movie will be available rests on the consumer. It's a problem that will only become more pronounced as the theatrical window shrinks to 45 days or less. And, as tentpoles more between subscription streaming and cinema screening.

When the COVID forced cinemas to close, the tradition of debuting movies there, went out the window (no pun intended). That left cinemas out in the cold and the studios quickly moved to other distribution channels. But with that change came great confusion for the viewer. Most moviegoers couldn't tell the difference between, nor cared, if the movie they were going to see was from Paramount, Disney, Sony, or DreamWorks - NOW they do!

Virtually, every major movie being released this summer is arriving in a different distribution channel. Paramount's "A Quiet Place Part II" is playing in cinemas for 45 days before moving to Paramount +.  Warners' 'Space Jam: A New Legacy" and "The Suicide Squad" are debuting at cinemas at the same time as they are streaming on HBO Max at no extra cost to subscribers. Universal's "F9" and "The Forever Purge" are screening in cinemas for an unknown period before being offered on video-on-demand.

This is a problem and very confusing to consumers. Release schedules aren't even consistent by the studios.  For example, Universal's "The Boss Baby 2" is launching in cinemas on the same day it bows on Peacock for free. Disney's "Cruella" was offered in cinemas or for rent on Disney + for $30, while its "Luca" is going straight to Disney + free.

                   Streamers proliferate making viewing very complex and confusing

Nothing makes sense any longer in trying to decipher this distribution maze. Consumers are not ready to spend all of the time and money to do a picture-by-picture analysis on where and when something is available. People are also confused regarding when new films are debuting. 

The good news for consumers is there is so much choice of content, bad news is that you have no idea of how to find your choice. Marketing is the only means of making it simple for people to find an upcoming feature. The promotion of a new theatrical release must be repetitive and state the fact that it's playing "only in theaters". 

                         Cinemas reopened to low but steady and growing admissions 

Many consumers find it very hard to justify spending extra money to see one movie at home when they already pay a monthly subscription fee. This, topped with the mental exercise of remembering where new movies are playing is too much onus to place on the 'paying public'. 

Jim Lavorato

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