Pandemic in Progress: hybrid models

Theatrical windows have been getting smaller. In Europe, audiences are accustomed to larger windows with nothing short of 15-17 months as “reasonable” in view of Canal Plus and local producer guilds agreements. French law requires Canal Plus reinvest into the local film economy and so they pledged to invest 600mm euros for the next three years. One director who has bargained for exclusive theatrical windows is Christopher Nolan (Batman, Tenet), who has a 90 to 120 day window with Universal. Once movies screen in theaters, they will be released to PVOD if they are not day and date releases where they can fetch up to $19.99 per premium rental with a low expense deduction (basic carrier fees). Capturing these hybrid revenue streams seems how the pandemic and post-pandemic worlds will recover the negative cost of their entertainment productions.

Some films are made for theaters, while others thrive in streaming. With 4 of the top 5 studios running their own platforms, competition abounds. AT&T will sell its entertainment business to focus on broadband. But for now, it is focused on its merger with Discovery, while it prepares to hand off WarnerMedia with a “strong exit velocity” per AT&T CEO John Stankey. HBO Max et al now have a combined global subscriber base of about 74mm people. Village Roadshow sued Warner last year when they released Matrix Resurrections day and date on HBO Max and are currently awaiting trial to determine if there is an opportunity to recover damages for their perceived losses of revenue. This is yet another example of a hybrid release strategy causing perceived decimated box office receipts, which is how parties often make their back end money and bonuses. Netflix continues to release its movies in Cinemark theaters (we reported on Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead last year), with films like Red Notice doing well (according to Netflix).

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