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Same-Day Release Model For Theaters And Streaming Is Over, NATO CEO Says

Photo by Karen Zhao via Unsplash

Same-Day Release Model For Theaters And Streaming Is Over, NATO CEO Says

By Movieguide® Contributor

Amid movie studios’ struggle to figure out how to compete and work alongside streaming services over the last few years, President and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners John Fithian said that the same-day release model is “dead.”

Fithian told attendees of CinemaCon that the same-day release model for theaters and streaming services is over and that they should seek out a new solution. 

“I am pleased to announce that simultaneous release is dead as a serious business model, and piracy is what killed it,” he said. “When a pristine copy of a movie makes its way online and spreads, it has a very damaging impact on our industry.”

The method was pioneered by Warner Bros. in 2020 when Covid-19 first hit. 

At the top of moviemaker and theater owners’ list of issues is piracy. 

Charles Rivkin, CEO of the Motion Picture Association, said, “On average pre-release piracy can take away as much as 20% of box office revenue — your revenue. And with the right efforts to build awareness with consumers, lawmakers, and the media, we can continue to build a culture that recognizes piracy for what it is — theft, pure and simple, and a direct threat to creators, the creative workforce and the creative community everywhere.”

The same-day release model was originally adopted due to the public’s hesitance to go to movie theaters during the pandemic. However, people are returning to theaters, and theater owners and movie makers are breathing a sigh of relief. 

Movieguide® previously reported on theater reopenings:

AMC Theatres opened their doors for the first time since March, and CEO Adam Aron told Fox Business exclusively that many locations were “sold out.”

“Welcome, America, back to the movies,” Aron celebrated. “We’re only selling 30 percent of our seats, and so we are sold out today almost all across the country.”

The largest theater chain in America opened 100 of its theaters last Thursday in places like Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, and St. Louis, according to Fox Business.

All of these locations participated in the 15-cent ticket deal for AMC’s 100-year celebration.

Safety measures for the theaters include frequent cleanings, limited capacity to allow for social distancing, requiring masks for moviegoers and employees, no cash at concessions, as well as no refills on popcorn or drinks, Fox Business reports.

The company partnered with Clorox for cleaning supplies and also set up hand sanitation stations around the theater.

“We’ve been waiting for this for five months, and we’ve spent so much time and effort to make sure that we get opened safely, cleanly, responsibly,” Aron said. “Everybody’s wearing masks. Social distancing is very important. We set up plexiglass shields.”

Aron said AMC also invested in “high-tech” cleaning machines like “electrostatic sprayers” and “HEPA air filters.”

The CEO boasted, “You could eat off the floor of our theaters, they’ve never been this clean.”

Movieguide® also reported on the movie industry’s piracy concerns:

Experts recently warned that media pirates would have a field day with the amount of high-quality uploads hitting the streaming market.

They sounded the alarm after Disney announced a slew of new content hitting Disney+ next year, as well as Warner Bros.’ decision to move all their 2021 releases to HBO Max the same day they hit theaters.

Kim Masters of The Hollywood Reporter noted: “[Warner] is pretending that pirates won’t pounce as soon as these films are streaming on HBO Max.”

Meanwhile, 2021 could be a historic moment for movie piracy.

Many exhibitors, analysts, and filmmakers were outraged at Warner Bros. studio’s deal with HBO Max. However, movie pirates cheered.

“For sure, pirates are celebrating WarnerMedia’s decision,” Abigail De Kosnik, director of the Berkeley Center for New Media, said.

The theatrical release window typically provided a barrier against high-quality piracy that would hurt a movie’s revenue earnings.

The usual pirate copies are low-quality video from a handheld camera. However, the new format may result in an intense erosion of domestic and international box office revenue.

“If a film is made available in the U.S. on HBO Max, a high-quality pirate copy is going to be available on every pirate service in the world that same day,” Andy Chatterley, CEO of U.K.-based piracy data and analytics company Muso, said.

Chatterley added: “We’ve never seen so many big-budget movies hit pirate networks so quickly. The piracy rates are going to be staggering—that’s just inevitable.”