Imagine a world without cinema …


Already shocked by the impact of a year of lockdowns, movie houses around the world seem set to close in droves in the coming months, perhaps never to reopen, after Warner announced Friday that it will release its films on the its HBO. Max streaming service at the same time as in theaters, effectively delivering a death blow to the theater window. Previously, another major studio, Universal, announced a deal with a movie chain, Cinemark, to shorten that window from the usual three months to just 17 days.

Some say the decision doesn’t mean the end of theaters, but just a way for studios to try and improve next year’s results. But many media already talk about the end of the experience at the cinema: after all, watching a movie in a cinema involves staying indoors for a couple of hours, which few people want to do right now, even when wearing a mask. . As a result of the lockdown and other health restrictions and protocols, many movie theaters now face debts that are likely to bankrupt them. It is doubtful that cinemas will still be there when people consider returning to them: to make many of their high-budget productions profitable, studios need a business model that allows them to show their films on screens of everything. the world at the same time, almost impossible. for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps surprisingly, online services such as streaming have little to do with the decline of cinema – a myriad of studies show that regular users of services like Netflix not only watch more content sitting on their sofas, they also go to the movies more often. . This has led to speculation that Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services may be buying cinema chains to showcase their growing production, thanks to changes to US antitrust rules that prevented studios from buying movie companies to prevent a single actor from controlling the entire value chain. In November 2019, the Department of Justice announced that this rule, which has been in place since the 1940s, would be revised due to the growing complexity of the industry and the presence of new players such as streaming companies.

In May 2020, rumors were circulating that Amazon could buy the AMC network, a move that would allow its productions to compete at Oscars and other major film awards and festivals.

Others, like Bigscreen, talk about virtually recreating the cinematic experience, which would allow us to “go” to the cinema with friends; another approach to the metaverse, where we share things by combining immersion in an environment with a social experience.

When a change in the environment causes customers to no longer see a certain activity as a habit, and this situation continues for more than a year, the writing is on the wall; in this case, for cinemas. Sure, we will be watching more content than ever, but we will not go to the cinema to do so and will instead use new technologies that can offer a possibly comparable experience, on the sofa at home, perhaps with VR glasses and a bowl of microwave popcorn. Is this the end of cinema as we know it?


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