The Future of Film: OTT the New Home of Cinema?

The pandemic has had a devastating effect on many industries, film included. From production through to distribution, the entire chain has been disrupted. For the film industry though, cinema has undoubtedly been one of COVID’s biggest casualties, with big names and independents around the world closing their doors in March and many still uncertain as to when they can safely reopen. 

Because of this, many studios have opted to delay their big blockbuster releases until next year. Such is the case with MGM and Universal with the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, now expected for theatrical release in 2021. The same goes for Disney’s Marvel Studio’s, Black Widow, which as a result will push back other Marvel film releases next year, including The Eternals. 

Disney Pixar however, recently announced that instead of delaying the release of their latest animation, Soul, any further, they would instead make it available on Disney+ this December for no extra charge to its subscribers. Nothing entirely new, as Disney also chose to premiere their live-action remake of Mulan back in September on Disney+ but for a premium fee. Universal Pictures also broke the theatrical window this year by releasing Trolls World Tour, Invisible Man and others straight onto mainstream TVOD streaming services. 

The theatrical exclusivity window is certainly shifting in light of the pandemic. During the summer AMC Theaters and Universal reached an agreement that meant their films would only need to play in U.S theatres for 17 days (as opposed to 90 days) before they can be made available to U.S home audiences through streaming providers. For cinema to survive, we may soon start to see them pivot or expand into OTT (as AMC did prior to the pandemic with an on-demand service), or at least partner with established streaming services. 

Gothenburg Film Festival’s streaming service Draken Film, a Magine Pro partner, is a great example of potential OTT and cinema partnerships. Earlier this year in response to the pandemic, they partnered with Swedish arthouse cinemas, enabling arthouse film fans to sign up to their service and to stream arthouse films at home. New subscribers to Draken Film could also opt to donate half of the subscription revenue to an arthouse cinema of their choice over six months as a way of supporting the cinema industry during the pandemic. 

Draken Film, Magine Pro

Draken Film, Magine Pro partner

The financial success of some films that have been made available through streaming services during 2020 is promising but it doesn’t replicate the cinema experience for consumers. At Magine Pro, we firmly believe in the future of cinema, even if theatrical exclusivity windows shorten long term. In our opinion, expanding into OTT is a smart way for cinemas to withstand the current uncertainties and also bolster their business long term, once the world returns to some form of normalcy.

To find out more about our flexible end-to-end OTT solutions for film, head here. Our professional video services can be tailored to your brand and content, and are secure, scalable, and available on multiple devices. You can also find out more about our experience with film OTT and discover our partners, including Draken Film on our experience page, here.

 

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