The big news that had come at the end of last year had been with a shift for a couple of studios to release major box office hits directly to online streaming platform alongside a cinema release – it signalled the first big change for the industry that had held a premium on releases. This change had been expected by some, online entertainment has been seeing a shift for quite some time as businesses typically rooted in the physical landscape have changed, music festivals are slowly welcoming virtual alternatives, gambling options online where the best can be found are starting to close the gap to physical locations as audiences grow, and the difficulties being faced by cinema means that online streaming is taking over.
Some big releases have already happened, and the big name had been with Disney as a studio that went through a large reorganisation to accommodate this change and having said that its primary focus moving forward would be on its streaming platform – it seemed like that was certainly the plan too, but a small hiccup came as a lawsuit followed the release of Marvel’s Black Widow with concerns around how streaming release would impact the pay options for the main actors, and how that may impact future releases.
To round out the year, Disney has returned to theatrical releases for the last of its major movies set to surface in 2021, including some big names like Eternals, The Last Duel, and the next Kingsman sequel – all going through a minimum of 45 days release cycle before heading to the streaming service. It isn’t known if the lawsuit issue led to this change or if this had been planned all along but seeing how staunch Disney had been that it had complied with all terms for Black Widow, which would suggest the move had been planned prior to this.
Whilst it’s unlikely that the day-and-date release schedule for theatrical and streaming release will stick around as one of the other big names, HBO Max, has already committed to reverting back next year, it could certainly mean that there are much shorter periods between theatrical runs with the typical 90-day window shortening to 45 days.
There’s still a lot that’s up in the air about this shift and online entertainment as a whole will only go through further change as this adjustment continues to be figured out, whilst it is still a possibility that streaming could be the permanent future for these entertainment option, for now it looks as if the traditional approach will continue to pull ahead and recover into the next year as major studios look to return to normal.