While 2020 was shaping up to be a particularly busy year for the film industry, the global health crisis caused by Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on every aspect of the sector. The first thing that comes to mind of course is the impact that lockdown measures have had on local cinemas, which were already negatively affected by large, modern multiplexes. Some have already announced that they won’t be able to reopen. In a survey conducted by Vertigo Research from March 26 to March 31, 2020, going to the movies ranked second among the most anticipated post-lockdown activities, just behind going out to a bar or restaurant. This survey shows that many of us are cinema enthusiasts and that enjoying a movie with family and friends is a cherished activity and undeniably important aspect of everyday life.
When lockdown measures are eased, under what conditions will theaters open? Will it be necessary to leave one or more empty seats between each viewer? What sanitary measures will be implemented, considering that dozens of people share the same seat every day? How many people will be allowed in? But, above all, which movies will be projected? The movie industry is currently facing an unprecedented situation and is being forced to adapt in order to survive, so there is no doubt that home theater is the most important tool to enable it to endure.
An industry forced to adapt to lockdown
This year’s release calendar has been completely overturned for Hollywood’s major studios and particularly for summer blockbusters. Franchises like Marvel with Black Widow, the new James Bond installment No Time to Die and Ghostbusters: Afterlife have all been delayed until the end of the year and 2021 in some cases, leaving a slow period until September at the earliest.
More examples are Soul, the latest Pixar animated film, which was supposed to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, and Wes Anderson’s new movie. Both have been postponed until fall 2020. Lastly, Top Gun 2 and Fast and Furious 9 have been announced for 2021.
Here in France, the media chronology law imposes a period of at least four months from the end of distribution in movie theaters to the release of physical and digital formats of a movie. However, as an exception the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC, the National Centre for Cinema and Moving Images) has made it possible to release certain movies earlier in VOD format. The movies in this list include 1917 by Sam Mendès, Richard Jewell by Clint Eastwood, Sonic by Jeff Fowler, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) by Cathy Yan and Woman by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
In the United States, production giant Universal is challenging conventions by releasing movies directly in VOD format without going through movie theaters. This is the case for the movies The Invisible Man, starring the actress Elisabeth Moss from The Handmaid’s Tale, the adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma, and Trolls World Tour. For $19.99, it is possible to rent these feature films that were originally scheduled for theatrical release to enjoy a movie night at home.
What can we expect in the future?
The reopening of movie theaters may still be uncertain, but the conditions in which spectators will be able to view movies are even more so. All public venues are subject to certain conditions when they reopen, and movie theaters are no exception. Although the film industry was doing very well at the beginning of the year with record figures, the closure of movie theaters and changes in the release schedule will definitely have a big impact. This industry is quickly affected when activity is suspended, especially at a time when big-budget movies are being released.
In addition, the production of certain feature films has been suspended. Given the restrictions created by lockdowns and protective measures, it is impossible to shoot a movie with several actors and technicians. As a result, the entire industry is at a standstill and has to rely on digital movie rentals and physical format sales. During this crisis, there is no doubt that the movie industry depends more than ever on home theaters.
When home theater comes to the aid of the film industry
Although over the past few years the main source of revenue for movies has been projection in theaters, online digital movie rentals and Blu-ray disc sales are currently the two main sources of revenue. Today, purchasing digital and physical content is essential in supporting and sustaining the film industry. That’s why owning a quality home theater system is vital for enjoying new releases in the best possible conditions. 4K UHD televisions, projectors, Blu-ray players and network media players are valuable tools if you wish to experience the joy of cinema at home.
It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that VOD and SVOD services have enjoyed significant growth during the lockdown and this trend is likely to continue. During the DEG (Digital Entertainment Group) exhibition, the president of Warner Bros. Entertainment Jim Wuthrich shared the company’s figures during lockdown. From March 21, the day theaters officially had to close, streaming sales skyrocketed with an increase of 38% in the first week, 37% in the second week and finally 55% during the week of April 4. Jim Wuthrich then announced a total loss of only 5% for Warner, even though the loss of revenue resulting from the closure of movie theaters amounted to 577 million dollars. This means that streaming and video games have almost made up for the losses.
Figures for sales of physical media (mainly Blu-ray discs) also showed slight growth over this period, particularly in the United States. Regarding home theater installations, the American market research firm NPD Group has reported 23% sales growth in the home entertainment sector. These figures include a 42% increase in sales of network media players and an 86% jump in sales for televisions. There is therefore a general trend in people turning to home theater installations to enjoy new releases, which enables studios to continue working and helps limit losses caused by the closure of theaters and postponed releases.
Available in various formats, from simple Blu-ray discs to bonus feature-packed limited editions and Steelbook versions, movies in physical format have many advantages. In addition to being able to watch your favorite film as many times as you want, because let’s not forget that the catalogs on streaming platforms are regularly updated, you can enjoy bonus content and, above all, provide financial support to everyone involved in the making of a movie. Companies like Zaavi provide magnificent collector’s editions of classic movies and recent releases to decorate your living room or home theater while building your movie collection.
In order to enjoy a whole range of movies and series on a regular basis and in the best possible conditions, a high-quality home theater system is essential. There are solutions for all needs and budgets. For example, you can opt for a discreet installation consisting of a television and a soundbar. If you want true surround sound without the clutter of cables, you can also create a wireless home theater system with compatible multi-room speakers.
For big screen enthusiasts and those who love thrilling and thunderous soundtracks, it is possible to enjoy a cinematic experience similar to that of movie theaters at home. Thanks to 4K UHD projectors, projection screens and home theater speaker systems, the dream of owning your own cinema to enjoy movies with family and friends in the best possible conditions is now a reality.
This summer’s movie releases remain in limbo and early fall is likely to be uneventful. With most major releases being delayed until November, owning a home theater is becoming the best solution to enjoy new movies while supporting the crisis-hit film industry. It is a particularly important gesture that allows all the technicians and professionals in the industry to continue providing the public with escapism and enjoyment. Cinema-lovers can enjoy their passion at home while supporting the movie industry with content on VOD and SVOD platforms, but also with physical releases such as Blu-ray and UHD Blu-ray discs.