The future of entertainment: the new normal for studios, theaters, and streamers

Monday, April 19, 2021 by Robinhood Snacks |
_"It's a nail-biter" [Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision via Getty Images]_

"It's a nail-biter" [Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision via Getty Images]

Miss the extra butter... With the Oscars coming up on Sunday, we're taking a look at how the entertainment industry has transformed over the past year — and what's next. Pre-pandemic, tech companies were already investing big in streaming. Then everything fast-forwarded:

  • In April 2020, Universal's Trolls 2 made more $$$ in three weeks via streaming rental than the original did after five months in theaters.
  • In July, AMC slashed the theatrical window for Universal films at its theaters. Instead of waiting the usual 75 days, people could stream new flicks after 17.
  • In December, AT&T's Warner Bros. said it would release all its 2021 movies on HBO Max at the same time they hit theaters.

Lights, camera, play button... While theaters like AMC struggled to survive 2020, streamers could barely keep up with demand. Subscription streaming time soared 34% last year, to over an hour a day. Netflix, which reports earnings tomorrow, crossed 200M paid subscribers. Disney+ crossed 100M subscribers last month, just 16 months after launching.

  • Studios are becoming streamers... OG streamers face fresh competition from OG studios, which are focusing on streaming now, too. Think: Universal's Peacock, Warner's HBO Max, and Viacom's Paramount+.
  • ...and streamers are becoming studios. Case in point: Netflix's original movie "Mank" is a Best Picture nominee at this year's Oscars. Amazon spent a whopping $11B on Prime Video and Music content last year, up 41% from 2019.

The hybrid model could stick... AMC, the world's largest theater chain, reopened nearly all its US theaters last month. But the hybrid streaming/theater release model could stick around. Last week, Disney said it'll roll out Marvel's “Black Widow” and "Cruella" on Disney+ and theaters simultaneously. People will always watch movies on the big screen – but it'll be more for love of the shared experience, rather than the only way to see new films.