Are cinema operators like Cineworld Group Plc in peril now that Amazon has captured Bond?
A metaphorical lazerbeam is pointed at cinemas in the north, are we waiting for them to clash? … “No Mr. Bond, we expect them to die.”
So what will become of the movie industry in a post-covid world where the big Hollywood studios are now also streaming platforms. Is Cinema About To Go Blockbuster’s Way?
It would have been strange to suggest in the early 2000s that a virtually unknown mail-order DVD company would effectively break the Blockbuster video rental chain.
In fact, an anecdote – perhaps too good to be true – claims that founder Reed Hastings was laughed out of the room when he pitched Blockbuster CEO John Antioco with the idea of a partnership at the turn of the millennium. .
Fast forward to 2021 and new partnerships to shape the future appear to be signed in Hollywood almost every week, although these deals do not involve theater operators.
The latest such deal came this week as Amazon signed an $ 8.45 billion deal to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), the studio behind the James Bond, Rocky and Hobbit films.
Now, the studio was quick to promise that it wouldn’t abandon the theatrical release of “ No Time to Die ” or any other Bond film.
Amazon doesn’t really need to lock Bond behind the Prime Video paywall, a parallel or even slightly delayed start to streaming would capture a substantial share of the market share away from theaters.
Covid lockdowns have created new standards everywhere and for some industries, potentially cinema, there may be no turning back.
The London-listed operator () saw its shares rise slightly this week, as it announced a better-than-expected box office for its UK reopening weekend as restrictions lifted. Meanwhile, Odeon owner AMC (aside from the WallStreetBets reddit circus) is also seeing its actions take center stage.
According to Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, cinema operators should get a boost from pent-up demand, even if streaming poses a longer-term threat.
“One thing directors and moviegoers will tell you is that there’s nothing quite like watching a movie on the big screen; the fact that we haven’t been able to do this for many months will certainly have created pent-up demand, which Cineworld was quick to point out to investors. And for good reason, they have hemorrhaged while cinemas have remained dark and social distancing will impact revenue in the immediate future.
“But there’s a bigger fly in their popcorn, lockdowns have made people hostage to their TVs and streaming services have taken full advantage of it.
“New customers were wooed, they splashed out on bigger screens and sound systems, and habits were formed. Then there’s the money, a lot and a lot of money has gone into the pockets of these companies, money that they are now channeling into content – both new and old. “
Hewson said that MGM’s takeover of Amazon further blurred the line between old-fashioned filmmaking and what was once dubbed TV content with derision, while noting that movie studios had experimented with cross-platform versions even before the pandemic.
Clearly, the pandemic has accelerated the growth of the so-called “ direct to consumer ” model used by Disney + and Warner Bros.’s HBO Max, which released a number of high profile films while theaters were closed.
“Cruella,” a live-action Disney film based on Cruella de Vil’s character from 101 Dalmatians, is next (released Friday, May 28).
It follows ‘Mulan’ and ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’, which were the two previous versions of Disney + Premier Access (each billed at £ 19.99 for users to stream), and predates the July release. from Marvel’s Black Widow.
At the end of 2020, Warner Bros. pushed the envelope further than Disney by announcing that its entire 2021 theatrical release schedule would be broadcast via HBO Max, in parallel and on the same release day.
Warner’s HBO Max hosted the release of DC Comic’s “ Wonder Woman 1984 ” on Christmas Day, and its upcoming “ Same-Day Premiers ” list includes sequels to the “ Suicide Squad ” movies, Space Jam and Matrix, among others.
It’s virtually unthinkable that Amazon wouldn’t take a similar approach after paying nearly US $ 9 billion for MGM.
It would take very little imagination to see the potential for a possible small-screen expansion of the Bond universe, if Amazon executives followed the plan laid out by Disney, which dramatically increased its subscriber base over the course of the year. the last year with series spinoffs for the Star Wars and Marvel franchises.
Maybe we can see a weekly series following other characters, after all we’ve barely heard a peek at 008, 009, or 001-6.
Or maybe, and the studio heads can have this pitch for free, they do a The Office-style mockumentary following the Q Branch boffins, ideally starring Richard Ayoade or Stephen Merchant.
This is speculation out of nowhere, of course, nevertheless, Amazon already has some form in this area. The exclusive Amazon Originals streaming catalog, for example, already features the series ‘Jack Ryan’, ‘The Purge’ and ‘Hanna’, all of which are TV reboots of Hollywood movies. Meanwhile, “Treadstone” is a series about CIA black-op teams set in “the world of Jason Board” (likely developed under a working title like The Bourne Regurgitation).
Who knows how it all plays out, but it’s probably safe to bet that the world’s most dominant and successful retailer hasn’t raked in the best part of the US $ 9 billion just to have a few movie premieres or just to qualify for Oscar nominations?
What is quite clear is that the film industry has changed forever as it emerges from the pandemic.
“Movie theater windows have narrowed and movie chains are well aware that calculations are being made on the true value of the box office,” added Danni Hewson.
“Right now we think those amounts are still movie-friendly, Disney has been quiet about what Mulan did last year, and Hollywood loves red carpets.
“But the landscape is changing quickly and if the balance tips money makers may well ditch the glamor in favor of the bottom line.”