Compared with previous years, this year's film industry has not gone smoothly. The epidemic caused the industry to press the pause button, or even regress. This also directly triggered many new changes, some of which even tried to change our viewing habits.
"Wonder Woman 1984" can be said to be one of the most recent blockbuster movies, and Warner, as the producer, recently announced that "Wonder Woman 1984" will be released on its own streaming media platform HBO Max and movie theaters for a month.
In other words, audiences can watch the movie premiere on streaming media carrying devices such as mobile phones, computers, and TVs. The impact on theaters can be imagined, and Warner has not stopped there. The 17 blockbuster films released this year were simultaneously released on the streaming platform HBO Max and in theaters.
This news can be said to have caused a wave of waves with one stone. You must know that among these 17 blockbusters, there are movies with high box office appeal such as "The Matrix 4" and "Dune".
With such a large number of commercial masterpieces canceled the window period, are our movie-watching habits really going to be changed?
Window of disappearance
It has been common sense for a long time that a movie premieres in a movie theater. This is the result of the joint efforts of movie theaters as distributors and film production companies as content producers.
Movie theaters sell movie tickets and provide screening venues, movie production companies are responsible for producing content, and publicity is often done by both parties. In order to ensure the cooperation and interests of both parties, a window period has appeared. Cinemas are generally used as a channel for the first release of films, and they will be exclusively for a period of time before they will be shown on the Internet.
Usually this can increase the attractiveness of theaters to audiences. For film production companies, the window period is also to collect the first wave of funds. After all, theaters are the main channel through which movie box offices can quickly collect funds.
And this time Warner Bros. has put all the masterpieces of "Wonder Woman 1984" and "The Matrix 4" on the streaming media platform for simultaneous theater screening, which undoubtedly hit the dealer’s theater face. Although there have been cases where movies were first launched online, But most of them are isolated cases, and the window period will not be cancelled for masterpieces in one year.
The cancellation of the window period means that users can watch movies on convenient devices such as mobile phones, TVs, and computers. Compared with the ticket sales in theaters, there is still a certain impact.
So, what is the reason for Warner Bros. to do such an extraordinary behavior?
An influencing factor that is easier to think of is the epidemic. The epidemic has prevented a large number of public places from opening, and the public's intention and frequency of going out for consumption have decreased to a certain extent. Compared with China, the epidemic in the United States is undoubtedly more serious.
However, the current situation of the epidemic situation is not clear. Warner Bros. canceled the one-year film release window at one time. I am afraid that the impact of the epidemic will not only be affected by Warner's own reasons. There are also factors that change the entire film industry.
Warner's last masterpiece launched during the epidemic was "Creed", and its box office performance was not satisfactory. It was surpassed by "Yu Bai" in China, and the global box office as of December 8 this year was only 359.9 million US dollars .
However, the production cost of "Creed" has reached 200 million US dollars, and industry analysts predict that the total box office will need to be about 400 million US dollars to achieve breakeven, which is also close to Warner's estimated loss of 50 million US dollars.
If only as a film production company, Warner might be able to accept the loss of such a so-called rescue work, but the big boss behind it, AT&T, might not think so. Warner Bros. Entertainment, as one of AT&T’s subsidiaries, It is still inevitably affected.
Since the movie is losing money and the epidemic is still unclear, it is better to put this part of the content on streaming media, which is all at a loss, and putting it on streaming media can attract new users to subscribe.
Although HBO Max's $14.99 one-month subscription price is a bit more expensive than movie tickets, the premiere of movies like "Wonder Woman 1984" plus other high-quality content from HBO seems acceptable.
And subscription revenue does not need to be shared with movie theaters, and all profits go to Warner Bros. Entertainment.
The actual data also proves the value of this decision. AT&T CEO John Stankey said in an interview that the number of subscribers of HBO Max increased by 4 million compared with the third quarter of this year, which is still 17. The movie has not yet started to go online.
However, such a radical cancellation window by Warner is obviously to be resisted by the traditional Hollywood film system.
What do people think of movies
According to a foreign media CNBC report , Warner did not communicate with the producers, actors and movie theaters of the 17 films in advance to cancel the window period. Many people only learned about it 2 hours before the news was announced, typically cutting first and then playing.
Obviously this angered many people. Many Hollywood filmmakers, including the director of "Creed" Nolan, said they couldn't understand. Nolan even called Warner's HBO Max the worst streaming platform. As the directly damaged party, the theater is naturally an opponent, and it is also fiercely opposed.
▲ Picture from: Reuters
In this regard, Warner Bros. has acted very resolutely. Its CEO Jason Kilar stated that "In this special period, if the box office is not enough, then HBO MAX will take a certain responsibility."
But even so, the attitude of the entire Hollywood traditional film system towards streaming media platforms is complex and diverse. Some people resist and others cooperate.
Prior to this, the famous director Martin Scorsese launched the movie "The Irishman" in cooperation with the streaming platform Netflix, although he also expressed his hope that the audience would watch the movie on a larger screen.
The reason for this is the theme and cost. It is said that the production cost of "The Irishman" has reached 159 million US dollars. This three-hour gang epic movie is indeed a niche theme in the current film environment.
This is also the reason why the traditional Hollywood film system did not invest in "The Irishman". The investment is high and risky. For streaming media platforms like Netflix, this part of the cost does not need to be cashed at the box office, but through "The Irishman". The blockbuster attracts viewers to continue to subscribe to the platform and make long-term profits.
Compared with the traditional film system, movie box office is the most important channel for recovering funds. Streaming media is more inclined to attract audiences of different hobbies with richer content and broader themes. The more viewers the higher the subscription fee, the easier it is to profit.
On the one hand, filmmakers hope that movies can be shown on the big screen. After all, everyone is produced in accordance with the standards of the big screen, such as wide screen, frame ratio, etc., but investment and subject matter are indeed problems. In a highly industrialized film industry system, the most important thing is the return on profit.
The audience that niche themes can attract is limited, and the box office is naturally not high.
On the other hand, streaming media is indeed willing to invest in films with diversified themes, although it does take away a portion of theater audiences.
Disney also announced on the recent investment day that it will launch more than 50 new film and television content, many of which will be launched on the streaming media platform Disney+. The animated film "Legend of Dragon" has chosen the same distribution strategy as Warner. Online and streaming are online at the same time.
Compared with traditional foreign film systems and streaming media platforms, the battle is becoming more and more fierce. Domestically, it is relatively mild. When "囧Mom" gave up in theaters, the most intense conflict was the theater party. Domestic filmmakers did not have much fierce opposition. of.
This is due to the relatively high degree of acceptance of online platforms by domestic filmmakers. Directors Xu Zheng, Xie Fei and other well-known filmmakers recognized the significance of online movies in interviews .
There are also reasons for the difference in the degree of development of the domestic and foreign film industry. Warner is one of the six largest film studios in the United States. Most of the movies exported to the market every year are big stars, big investments, and big investments like "Wonder Woman 1984". Large-scale commercial films have relatively high box office expectations.
At the same time, Warner also has services such as TV stations and streaming media platform HBO Max. In contrast, there are few such companies in China.
Warner’s cancellation of the window period reveals that consumers still have the right to choose. The audience chooses whether to go to the cinema or to stream media, but there are risks behind it.
First of all, it is difficult to prohibit pirated content. This year, "Mulan" was released shortly after the launch of the streaming media platform Disney+. At that time, the movie was not shown in domestic cinemas.
The second is that the number of streaming media platforms is increasing. In addition to Warner’s HBO Max, there are also Netflix, Disney+, Apple’s Apple TV, etc. The copyrights are transferred between major platforms. Compared with before, viewers have to pay more subscription fees if they want to watch more. .
Not to mention that like "Mulan", in addition to the subscription fee, you have to spend money to purchase additional movie-viewing qualifications, which increases the audience's consumption in disguise.
Streaming media has indeed changed our viewing habits to a certain extent. The epidemic has undoubtedly accelerated this change. The impact of streaming media and cinemas may become the norm in the future.
If we look farther, we will find that in the entire history of film development, movie theaters are not the first to have suffered such a big impact. In the 1940s and 50s, television, as an emerging product, became the most popular product among American families. One of the products.
Various programs and movies can be watched on TV, which has had a huge impact on movie theaters. The number of moviegoers and box office dropped sharply in the 1950s.
In order to cope with this new thing, the traditional film production system also refused to provide content for TV in the early stage to prevent the brain drain, which is similar to the refusal of streaming media now.
However, the movie theater finally found a way to save itself. On the one hand, the blockade was unlocked and the TV station began to provide content for profit. On the other hand, it strengthened the uniqueness of the movie theater, such as increasing the screen size, and a larger wide screen became standard.
Coupled with the addition of new technologies such as IMAX, Dolby sound effects, 3D movies, etc., the movie theater experience has reached new heights one after another and attracted audiences with this.
The cinema is a unique space with a sense of ritual. As Professor Dai Jinhua of the Chinese Department of Peking University said:
The theater is a public space. It is the only public space where people are seated and "collectively watching movies alone" in a dim environment. I sit with you, but I am watching movies alone.
In this public space, you will not be disturbed by pop-up messages, and there is no fast playback function. Just enjoy the movie immersively.
What's more, as a physical store, the cinema also has social significance. Going to the cinema with friends to watch a movie has always been one of the main activities after dinner.
This unique experience supports viewers in choosing movie theaters continuously. It will not disappear under the impact of digital distribution systems such as streaming media. The coexistence of the two is the norm.
Perhaps after the epidemic, movies can be shown in theaters or streaming media platforms according to their own characteristics. Now domestic online movies are similar to B-level movies in the early history of movie development. They are also low-cost, with few movie stars, but Occasionally, there are still good works.
▲The classic film "The Cry" shot by director Hitchcock was shot in accordance with the B-level film standard, and the cost was less than 800,000 US dollars
I have also talked about this issue with my friends around me. Although a small number of people said that watching movies on mobile phones and TV is fine, more people still said:
I still want to see Wonder Woman on the big screen.
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