Whether they want to announce it as a permanent shift or not, the big studios are changing their ways. The windows between theater and digital streaming release dates are being cut dramatically, or are altogether disappearing. This is huge for the consumer, who not only must view movies at home these days because of COVID19, but might well make in-home viewing their preferred choice.
Universal Studios and AMC Theaters Close the Release-to-Digital Window
The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Universal had signed an agreement with AMC Theaters to release new movies directly to digital streams after only 17 days instead of the usual two-and-a-half month windows that used to limit digital access (“AMC, Universal Agree to Trim Theatrical Window Before Movies Go Online.”) Universal is one of the major studios in the business and AMC Theaters is the largest theater chain in the world.
Disney Announces the Release of “Mulan” Straight to Their Streaming Channel, Disney+
Disney’s upcoming release of “Mulan” is another sign of massive changes happening in movie distribution. In a recent interview with NPR (“What ‘Mulan’s’ Disney+ Premiere Means for the Film Industry”), Disney CEO Bob Chapek discussed Disney’s decision to release its live-action version of “Mulan” straight to its streaming service, Disney+. The September 4 debut of the movie will bypass a theatrical release, which had been postponed several times since March. Consumers will be able to view the movie on Disney+, in their homes, for $29.99.
Though Chapek didn’t say outright that this will be the ushering in of a new model of movie releases, still he commented that it will be interesting to learn how well “Mulan” does on Disney+. He noted the streaming service’s success in its recent showings of the musical “Hamilton” and Beyonce’s “Black Is King” production.
The Question of Whether to Release New Films Straight to Streaming Isn’t Just Up to the Film Execs
But is the decision about releasing movies direct to streaming channels entirely up to the studios and the movie theaters? We think not. First, there’s COVID19, which will continue to require social distancing and face masks for who knows how long. Then there’s consumer demand, an inexorable force that never ends.
To us, it’s clear: This movement toward nearly direct-to-you movie releases signals a seismic shift in the industry that’s here to stay. And we believe that consumer demand will drive tremendous growth in the construction of intimate movie theaters at home, just as viewers’ demand drove the rapid size increase for flat-screen TVs. Case in point: According to Statista, the average size of LCD TV screens in the United States more than doubled between 1998 and 2018, growing from 23 to 47 inches. This trend is expected to continue, with average LCD TV screen size expected to eclipse 50 inches by 2021.
If Movie Viewing Will Be at Home, Is a High-Performance Home Theater a Must-Have?
So you really should ask yourself, will just the image on your large flat screen be enough of a movie-going experience? Or is a fully immersive movie-viewing experience the next thing that you must have in your home – ensconced in a space where you can shut out the world, dim the lights, tilt back into your plush theater seat, and surround yourself with a full 360-degree experience of sight and sound?
Kind of a no-brainer, as far as we’re concerned, and CEPro agrees in their recent article, “Home Theater Gets Big Boost with Universal, AMC Deal.” That’s why we’ve been gearing up to bring fully immersive, high-end and professional-quality home theaters to the market and within reach of anyone with a spare bedroom,