New post Covid cinema: how the pandemic changed Hollywood forever

New post Covid cinema: how the pandemic changed Hollywood forever

New post Covid cinema

Streaming platforms (and piracy) are increasing, Americans must adapt to the tastes of the East - and even Europe - to capture the global audience, and theaters and home cinemas must learn to live together

( photo: Getty) Amazon bought Metro Goldwyn Meyer, a traditional film studio, seizing all of its intellectual property along with its catalog; from next year he will have the broadcasting rights on the Italian territory of the Champions League while DAZN will have the Serie A; Netflix has surpassed 200 million subscribers worldwide. In the year in which cinemas were closed, the home entertainment scenario changed dramatically. The usual chain of exploitation of a film in the film business (production -> theatrical release -> home video -> streaming -> generalist TV) has been interrupted and everyone has accelerated or changed plans to survive. Now that we have re-emerged from freediving and theaters around the world are reopening trying to find space for long-held films, nothing goes back to the way it was before. Once the dust has been laid after the explosion, the balance and the forces in the field are completely different. America, the largest audiovisual industry in the world, is completely in another position and with another business in its hands.

The theaters are not dead but the blockbusters no longer live only there

First of all the cinemas. They are not dead. The last two American weekends with Cruella and A Quiet Place 2 have shown the same numbers as before the pandemic. The cinemas in the United States have returned to collect the same as before, albeit with a much greater offer. In fact, there are all the films that have not been released anymore those shot during the pandemic, a big accumulation that for us, in Italy, will be even bigger because in the summer something will come out but not all, and therefore the concentration will be extreme in autumn when the Italians will also get there. On the other side of the world, Chinese cinemas almost immediately resumed their collection and so did the Korean and Japanese ones (which this year saw its highest grossing ever with Demon Slayer) and all those of the major territories, those that change the fate of a film. The cinema is therefore not dead, but what has changed is that more and more big films are choosing the domestic release.

Before not going through the halls were the films with Dolph Lundgren or Van Damme, it was called straight or direct to tv, it was Asylum movies like Sharknado, an infamous label. Then with Netflix and Amazon, even important films began to skip the hall to go straight to television (or rather, on the internet), Oscar-winning films for which the hall was an accessory while only the great titles went to the cinemas. Now even the big titles go online. During the lockdown, Universal made good money streaming Trolls World Tour, the sequel to Trolls, more money than the first one. Warner for its part has used its streaming platform HBO Max (which has not yet arrived to us) to release several "big" titles including Godzilla v. Kong. A giant film that went theatrical and streamed together. Disney + sends Mulan, Luca and Cruella exclusively on platform or on platform and room.

Similar experiments had already been attempted in the past and each time the owners of the rooms had risen with threats and political pressure campaigns such as to make desist the studios. Instead, reduced to the gas barrel during the lockdown, the exhibitors could only make feeble and useless protests. The studios on the other hand badly needed to get back those tens of millions of dollars spent and didn't look anyone in the face. Now it's a fact: blockbusters can also be streamed and still generate profit. Although it is always ideal, first the room and then the streaming (double built-in), a door that no longer closes has been opened. Hollywood actually has a new channel of exploitation even for gigantic films.

800 heroes, Chinese blockbusters arriving in Italy at the end of the month

The United States is no longer the main market for American productions

More and more films are produced, not only those that can host but also those that can go in streaming, more and more giant productions and more and more designed for the world and not only for its Western part. Over the past three years, 20,000 new screens have been built in China, increasing their total to 75,000 by just under a third. That's double the number of screens that exist in all of North America. Which means that if it used to be a sensation, it is now a reality that China is the largest market in the world for films. And it is increasingly difficult for American cinema to penetrate that market. They have to make films for them, with their own rules, to please that audience. If they succeed, the takings are mind-boggling, otherwise they foreclose the major market. And not just for cinema.

As you know, Netflix grew a lot during the lockdown but 83% of this growth came from outside the United States. Now 60% of viewers are non-American, the same will soon happen to other streaming platforms. Although American series and films remain dominant for the first time, a production does not have to be Hollywood to be a worldwide success. For the first time, Europe (and other markets) are truly a competition for Hollywood, one it never calculated. Even in the domestic market. The paper house and Lupine are crazy successes (to a lesser extent also Gomorra - The series), as they have never happened before and they demonstrate that no matter where a good idea is born, if it is good it will work.

Streaming has completely changed

If the cinema has had a good shake from which it will have to recover, it is not that streaming is outdone! The more the shows increase, the more the differences and the experimentations increase. Disney +, for example, is increasingly oriented towards an old distribution model that seemed outdated, that of the release of one episode per week. If Netflix more than ten years ago created the conditions for binge-watching, loading all the episodes of an online series all together, Disney + wants to bring it down with one episode a week: long exploits, subscribers forced to pay for several months. The others begin to do this slowly. And there are not a few.

In fact, many new platforms were born during the lockdown, even in Italy MioCinema and IWonderfull (on the platform) come from there, just to name two. Universal has launched Peacock and Warner has accelerated HBO Max (two that as anticipated by us have not yet arrived). Everyone has their own exclusive movies and series, which you can't find elsewhere, and after all, even the rental is becoming more and more crucial. Which means that after a period in which the offer was dominated by Netflix and for a few euros a month it was possible to see if not all, at least a lot, now each platform has its own captivating productions for which it asks for a subscription. Yet another, for the user. A subscription to see Martin Scorsese's Killers Of The Flower Moon with De Niro and DiCaprio on AppleTV +, one for the Friends reunion, one for Loki, one for LOL, one more for Gomorrah or the Sky series and so on.

Streaming has become very expensive, at least for those who do not want to give up films and series not included in the subscriptions they already pay. The consequence is that after years in which piracy had dropped to minimum levels, it is now on the rise again, more and more practiced, more and more an alternative to not paying for a subscription to Netflix, one to Amazon, one to Sky, one to AppleTV + and one at Disney +, for a total of no less than € 30 / € 40 per month plus rental movies (because Godzilla v. Kong was not on any of these). An app like Stremio, for example, transforms the torrent piracy system into a streaming platform no different from the legal ones that nevertheless contains everything, how can you resist similar competition?

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