Earlier today, governor Gavin Newsom ordered all California indoor business to be closed, which included movie theaters, amongst many other places of business due to a statewide spike in COVID-19 cases. As for when these movie theaters will reopen, Erik Handler of MKM Partners stated in Variety today, “It would be surprising to see theaters able to re-open nationwide before September, at the earliest.” This is after movies like Mulan, Tenet, and numerous others have been delayed almost on a month-to-month basis in an effort to keep the general public optimistic that when they return to their favorite movie theater, they’ll be greater by the usual slate of high-budget, pulse pounding movies they are used to seeing.
I think that there is an easy solution to have new movies releasing in movie theaters and make companies happy while they wait for movie theaters to safely re-open and it’s really quite simple. If the film is a big-budget film, wait until next year. If it’s a smaller indie film, release it digitally. If it’s from a company that’s not quite sure how the market will react to and doesn’t have a lot of faith in to begin with, release it day and date on streaming.
Take Palm Springs. Within the last three days of it releasing on Hulu, it has been seen by over 31,000 and averages a four-star rating by the people who’ve seen it and that’s just on Letterboxd. IMDB states that 8,567 users have rated the film a 7.6/10, Rotten Tomatoes has 114 critics seeing it with a 92% approval rating, and 431 users seeing it with a 90% approval rating. This is without even considering Twitter which has thousands of Tweets about how good and original the movie is. If this film was released in theaters by Neon and not distributed exclusively to Hulu, I don’t believe we would be seeing 40K+ people talking about this movie. It would be in theaters for a week, and then it would die.
Another great example is Trolls: World Tour. That animated film that nobody cared about went on to make over $7 million (and likely climbing), caused AMC Theaters to boycott the entirety of Universal Pictures’ releases for the foreseeable future, and started a chain of events that would cause other major studios to release their films on VOD for $20 as a 48-hour rental.
So, if anyone from any of the major studios is listening, just tell us that it’ll be awhile before we return to the movie theaters, and give us some entertainment at home in the interim because the way things are going, you’re likely to lose a lot of money if you don’t.