2020 has been a terrible year for cinema in general. The pandemic has closed so many theaters all around the world, but the worst was yet to come. Covid-19 was not the only disaster for the movie business. There were two others: the box-office of ‘Tenet’ and the release of ‘Mulan’.
At first glance, the decision to bring Tenet to cinemas was an incredibly brave one. Christopher Nolan, one of the greatest filmmakers of our time, is a man wanting to defend the cinema experience at all cost (he seems to be the only one in Hollywood right now). But the decision to bring out his big blockbuster accelerated a process that is probably going to change our cinema experience for the long term. Looking back, it is always easy to criticize the decision of Warner and Christopher Nolan to bring Tenet out in the cinema’s, we were also in favor of the release of the movie. So, what happened? The movie flopped in the US. The biggest cinema’s were closed in California and New York and in the rest of the country, people were too scared to go out in a dark room full of people during a ranging pandemic. And so Warner Bros, the studio behind Tenet and the studio with the biggest release of films in cinema’s, took a radical decision. All of their movies in 2021 will be released in cinema’s and on their HBOMax platform for people to stream. This decision followed the same strategy for the release of the new Wonder Woman film, coming out in December. Their excuse? The pandemic will still be very present at least until the summer and so to the viewers they decided to offer the films also on their platform. The real reason? HBOMax, their new streaming platform, is lagging behind the competition and they need a big boost of subscribers. Which movies are we talking about? The Suicide Squad, The Matrix 4, Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong and Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Other films include Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In the Heights, Reminiscence, Malignant, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard and Cry Macho.
Warner stresses that it is a temporary decision, but this off course will be difficult to change if people adopt it.
This decision of Warner follows the release of ‘Mulan’ of the streaming platform Disney+ for an extra fee above the subscription for the platform. In full pandemic and seeing the low numbers of ‘Tenet’ and wanting a big push for their new platform, Disney decided to take out one of their most anticipated films out of the cinema’s and put it on their shiny new platform. The move was a big success. This must have influenced Warner and probably also Universal, who made a deal with cinema’s to bring out their movies on their own platform (can you still follow? There is still Netflix, AppleTV+ etc.) after three weeks instead of the normal 4 months. Sony Pictures and Paramount have been selling their most prestigious films to Netflix. And great filmmakers like David Fincher or Martin Scorsese are making films for streaming platforms.
What’s the problem? At least I can see all my movies in the comfort of my own home now! The movie experience is something magical, to watch a movie on a giant screen is an incredible experience, certainly when you can share it with our love one’s. Going to the cinema is something fun and social, seeing the actors on the screen gives them a legendary connotation.
This is not the first time the cinema experience is under threat. During the years it faced, TV, VHS and DVD and still came out alive, also movie studio’s make their biggest profit out of the cinema release for now. This decision doesn’t affect Europe or Asia, for the moment. Funny enough the savior of the cinema experience seem to be coming from China, where movies are still make huge sums of money.
The glamour of Hollywood is quietly disappearing, replaced by the glamour of tv…