Sony Executives Released Slam Hybrid as “devastating” for the film industry

CinemaCon opened with a bang in Las Vegas on Monday evening when Sony executives took their place as the first moderators of the convention to denounce daily and date releases as “devastating” for the film industry while doubling their commitment to an exclusive cinema window. according to several reports from journalists present.

The subtext was clear: Sony is an outlier among the big studios; It’s the only one without its own streaming service and the only one that didn’t use the pandemic as an excuse to watch movies in theaters and at home the same day, which drew its anger from cinema exhibitors. The chairman of Sony Pictures, Tom Rothman, however, has it even more precisely when he was the “Free Guy” of the 20 home. Go damn figure! “

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Sony’s place as the first CinemaCon presentation studio – with an introduction by Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger – was not a mistake. For the uninitiated observer reading this heading, one could deduce that the wish of the National Association of Theater Owners has come true: that studios and exhibitors agree, that the theater experience is not only sacrosanct, but something that will return at full power existential necessities for the future of entertainment, streaming be damned.

But that is far from reality. Disney couldn’t even bother showing up for CinemaCon (likely in part due to legitimate concerns about a pandemic) and will instead use its two-hour presentation slot on Wednesday to show the MCU rate “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” to show in advance of its September 3rd release.

“Shang-Chi” is exactly the type of film that cinemas depend on to keep their doors open, and Disney is doing a lot of it: prior to the pandemic, the studio owned roughly 40 percent of the domestic box office. But over the past year it has reorganized around its streaming services. Disney + subscribers could pay $ 30 to see tent poles like Black Widow, Jungle Cruise and Mulan at home – the same day the films hit theaters.

For Disney, all signs point to success with hybrid releases. Black Widow had an opening weekend of $ 80 million last month, which was weaker than expected, but the additional $ 60 million from Disney + rentals made the House of Mouse happy. NATO quickly blamed the day-and-date strategy for the underperformance: “Theater exclusivity is the way forward,” said a group press release.

“Free Guy” – released by Disney subsidiary 20th Century – is a rare current example of one of the company’s films that were exclusively released in theaters. It was number 1 at the box office last week for the second straight week, bringing its total gross value worldwide to $ 111.91 million.

“Shang-Chi” will follow in his place, but Disney boss Bob Chapek fell far short of the full cinema recommendation of his colleagues at Sony. During the company’s conference call earlier this month, Chapek described the film’s proposed 45-day exclusive theatrical release, followed by a Disney + debut, as an “experiment” that could be “an interesting data point.” In addition, he said, it would be too difficult to adopt a hybrid version of “Shang-Chi” at this point because of “the impracticability of last-minute changes”.

While it doesn’t have its own streaming service, Sony hasn’t ignored the realities of streaming-first Hollywood. During the pandemic, some theatrical releases such as “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and the MCU rate “Morbius” were postponed, while other titles were sold to streamers: The Tom Hanks war drama “Greyhound” went to Apple and Netflix brought in the animated comedy “The Mitchells” vs. the machines. “

The company also announced two deals this spring that will see its films release first in theaters, then on VOD, then on Netflix, and then on Disney. It will also make movies that go straight to Netflix.

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