Silver screen productions make small screen premiers

By Elizabeth Compton, Entertainment Writer

After a relatively uneventful summer blockbuster season due to the lack of a movie-going audience, viewers finally got a chance to watch a few anticipated movies over the holidays. Unlike years past, many of these movies are available on streaming services, where you can watch them in the comfort of your own home.

Pixar’s Soul and Warner Brother’s Wonder Woman 1984 both were released on their respective streaming services on Dec. 25 after being delayed multiple times during 2020. Soul was originally set for a June theatrical release, which was bumped to November before finally being released in December. Similarly, WW 1984 was pushed from June to August to November before a holiday release. WW 1984 received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, while Soul received a generally positive response from critics and audiences alike. Whether audiences enjoyed either film or not, the joint streaming and theatrical premieres bring up an interesting point regarding how consumers will watch new movies.

The movie Tenet was released in theaters this summer and didn’t do too well, as Americans were not too eager to return to theaters. With many films having delayed their release for nearly a year, it looks like streaming-focused releases aren’t going away anytime soon.

WW 1984 was the first of the Warner Brothers movies premiering on HBO Max and theatres. This announcement shocked both moviegoers and some of the actors involved, by this will likely become standard practice as it prevents studios from ending up with the backlog of unreleased films because audiences aren’t yet ready to go back to theaters.

Disney and their new flagship streaming service have also signaled they’ll be taking a similar approach. Mulan (the remake) initially cost extra to stream on the service, but now is available with a normal subscription. Black Widow will also be released on the streaming service. 

Currently, there has been the release of the first original Marvel show on Disney+, WandaVision. It’s release is much like The Mandalorian (which just finished season 2), so there will be one new episode a week. While this way of releasing a show may seem like a normal TV, it’s a good way to keep subscribers who may have just joined to watch the one show, and maybe get them to stick around to watch other content.

Other streaming services are also working on releasing new movies. Netflix has said that for 2021, it will be releasing one movie each a week on its platform. Hulu is also releasing new content every week, including the new season of The Bachelor. However, unlike HBO Max and Disney+, Hulu and Netflix don’t have anything concurrently releasing in theaters (or at least as of yet).

The new wave of movies was made at a rather high cost. Mulan and WW 1984 both cost about 200 million dollars to make. While Mulan made 25.5 million from Disney+ alone it’s opening weekend, neither film made back their production costs. This leaves studios with an interesting position: while the details of the deal between WB and HBO aren’t available to the public, it’s almost certain that there won’t be movies making billions of dollars anytime soon.

Despite the difficulties, movies won’t be going away anytime soon. Viewers will have plenty of new content to watch among platforms, even after theaters can be safely open. Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max are continuing to pump money and ideas into streaming-only content to compete for attention. While the impact of a lack of a movie-going for such a long period remains uncertain, viewers can rest assured that there will be plenty to watch, all from the comfort of their own home.

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