Film industry transitions release tactics, the public positively responds

Sophie Yang, Staff Writer

The delicious aroma of crispy, buttery popcorn, the big screen, silencing your cell phones, and the familiar feeling of excitement when the lights dim and the movie is about to begin. These are the moments movie go-ers look forward to when on a trip to the theater. Unfortunately, these things have become somewhat a thing of the past. With the unexpected arrival of this pandemic, theaters were forced to shut down, maybe for good, thus forcing the entertainment industry to rethink its way of releasing films. This reimagining process involves weighing costs and predicting how successful each movie would be, to best determine when and how it is released. 

“I’m sad we’re not able to go to movie theaters. In the future, if they close for good, I’ll be upset, but personally, I prefer streaming services. You just pay for the month and then can watch anything on there,” Junior Ellie Oif says.

The hit Broadway musical Hamilton was released for streaming on Disney+ July 3rd, although the original release date was October 15th, 2021. This move proved a massive success, receiving an overwhelming outpour of support from fans. Although Disney has yet to release just how many streams Hamilton received, Apptopia, an analytic company, reported that Disney+’s downloads were up 74% more than the average of what they were for the previous weeks of July. While a portion of this success can be attributed to the preexisting popularity of this Tony Award-winning musical with over 2.6 million people seeing the show in Chicago,  the timing of the release played a huge role as well. The decision to release the film over a year prior to the original date was made in the midst of this pandemic. With everyone stuck at home with not a lot to do, the excited arrival of Hamilton created something for viewers to look forward to. 

“We got Disney+ on the fourth of July because my mom wanted to watch Hamilton, and they didn’t offer a free trial, so we just paid for the month,” Oif says. 

Hamilton is one of many films that have been released early. The Way Back, starring Ben Affleck was in theaters March 6, 2020. However, the majority of theaters closed across the country on March 16, 2020, amid the pandemic. Typically the waiting time between movies being put into theatres and released onto DVD or on-demand is ninety days. Adjusting to the current times, The Way Back was put on demand on March 24, 2020. 

“I think it’s smarter for studios to release onto on-demand for a better profit because they can make more money then if they released it into theaters. But as somebody who wants to keep the theatrical experience alive, it’s not the best choice,” sophomore Max Weber says. 

New films have two options: to sell and/or release the movie to a streaming service, or to delay the release of the film until theaters can safely open up again. The former is seen in films like Greyhound– a Sony-produced film that was sold to Apple TV+. The latter is found in productions such as Christopher Nolan’s new movie Tenet. Originally scheduled to hit theaters on July 17, 2020, Tenet’s release date has been postponed three times due to the Coronavirus.  Nolan’s renowned box office success is one factor that plays into the decision to wait to release Tenet in theaters. As the release date is pushed farther and farther back, the film could start to be losing traction. However, many theater lovers like Weber are still excitedly awaiting the now-highly anticipated arrival of movies that have delayed their release. 

“For big movies like Tenet, I want to see it on the big screen rather than on my computer or at home. I want to be in the theatre opening night with my friends, eating popcorn, with the quiet darkness of the theatre,” Weber remarks. 

As the world continues to change and adapt, the movie industry will have to transition as well toward a new era of entertainment.