Simultaneous-Run Movies On Streamers, In Cinemas: No Longer A Thing?

Are we really past the controversy of simultaneous releases of theatrical movies in theaters and on streaming platforms?

Show me how many movie studios are doing those kinds of releases these days. Consider that two recent major theatrical movie studios -- Walt Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery -- have made no headlines on this subject for months.

Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek again reiterated his commitment to backing exclusive movies in theaters Thursday on CNBC -- albeit with one caveat that more studios are adjusting to: Shorter exclusive theatrical windows for some movies.

It seems theaters have little problem with dealing with that change --- since much of their big box-office business continues to come within the first four weeks or so of a film's opening.



What about loyal streaming consumers -- are they upset? Streaming platforms keep growing, albeit now more slowly.

Although big theatrical movies provide a nice promotional spike, they cannot alone keep consumers from opting out -- and then back into -- subscriptions.

Unlike Warner Bros. (formerly WarnerMedia) Disney did not make massive changes in moving a big slate of movies to streaming -- with perhaps one slip-up for "Black Widow" from a year ago. That movie was streamed on Disney+ and ran in theaters at the same time.

Disney+ Premier Access allowed consumers to stream the movie at home for a $30 pay-per-view showing. While the movie took in $80 million in its initial weekend in theaters, it also grabbed $60 million in opening weekend streaming revenues.

And because of this, "Widow" star Scarlett Johansson had an issue -- since it dinged her theatrical-based deal. Not only that, but in its second weekend, those theatrical revenues dropped 67% to $26.3 million. Disney quickly saw the error of its ways and resolved things.

And for Warner Bros. Discovery, that studio is headed back firmly -- perhaps more so -- to the old ways.

President/CEO David Zaslav said there was no appreciable monetary value to putting all Warner Bros. 2021 theatrical movies -- 17 in all -- to be available on HBO Max at the same time.

While all this gave HBO Max a lot of early buzz, it strained relationships with movie theaters. Those partnerships are better now.

Zaslav has other concerns -- just keeping its linear TV networks' business rolling (as does Disney) while it pursues streaming.

In addition, he is looking to make more licensing deals for TV/movie content and library products -- instead of putting it into streaming.

For its part, Disney seems to be on the right track, even with slower-growing subscribers. It projects that Disney+ will be profitable by 2024.

This is no easy dance -- especially as streamers need to keep spending billions on new TV and movie productions to keep customers happy.

Keeping two businesses -- linear and streaming -- going in different directions requires some deft business footwork. No stepping on toes.

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