The cinema war won by theaters against platforms

The cinema war won by theaters against platforms
The cinema war won by theaters against platforms

LThe dust has settled. Cinemas around the world are gradually recovering their pre-Covid-19 audience levels, even if this objective will be difficult to achieve before 2025, while streaming platforms (Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, etc.) continue to gain subscribers. All those who predicted that lovers of the seventh art would no longer move from their sofas and would not return to theaters to see films were wrong.

As the 77 opens on Tuesday May 14e edition of the Cannes Film Festival, the violent quarrels have died down. Since 2018, the bosses of streaming platforms who hope to walk the red carpet on the Croisette thanks to one of their films must commit to releasing it theatrically in France. Those who refuse are now trying their luck at other festivals, in Berlin, Toronto or Venice. Here again, the most pessimists, convinced that Cannes would seriously suffer from this French exception, waved their red rag in vain.

The pure and hard economy has taken over and producers, in Hollywood as everywhere else, know well that a film shown in theaters around the world, then released on DVD, on television and in streaming, will be much more profitable as the exclusive purchase by a platform, without possibility of subsequent exploitation. The pandemic proved to be a parenthesis.

The room, irreplaceable

At the annual cinema convention, CinemaCon, in Las Vegas in early April, Michael O’Leary, president of the National Association of Movie Theaters in the United States, reaffirmed that“a film first broadcast exclusively in theaters will subsequently be more successful in streaming”. He assured that “relegating films made with colossal budgets directly to a streaming platform does not constitute a business model sustainable “.

Hollywood studios, which, during the pandemic, snubbed theaters to only release their productions on their platforms, have finished with this strategy. One of the last films to confront this question, Challengersof Luca Guadagnino, co-financed by Amazon, was released worldwide in cinemas.

“The room has won, the platforms realize that it is irreplaceable”says Anne Flamant, cinema and audiovisual director of the Neuflize OBC bank (ABN Amro). “The room is a dream”adds Eric Marti, general manager of the analysis company Comscore.

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The impact of the long strike in Hollywood in 2023 penalized the long-awaited rebound in theaters. However, according to him, “the “streamers” ate their white bread, they were attractive when the entire planet was confined”. The extraordinary success of barbie and D’Oppenheimer – which grew to a crescendo in the heart of summer 2023 – could never have happened on platforms. According to Mr. Marti, almost no film only programmed on streaming platforms has remained iconic. With a few exceptions, such as Codafinanced by Apple TV+, the rain of awards hoped for at festivals or at the Oscars is still awaited.

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