CORPORATE heavyweights in the film industry are testing their own streaming services and there will be some casualties, according to Kieren Dell, chief executive of Majestic Cinemas which operates the new Kempsey Cinema.
The in-demand streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple suddenly have competition from the very industry supplying them with their biggest blockbuster films.
Disney Plus, owned by the Walt Disney Company, was quick to the subscription service party after launching in Australia in November 2019.
Viacom CBS subscription service, Paramount Plus, was launched in the US, Canada, and Latin America on March 4 this year and will go live in Australia in August.
"The reality is that there is a streaming and content war going on, and it's all about who owns what content," Mr Dell said.
"Universal are setting up Peacock in the US, Paramount are rebranding CBS Online as Paramount Plus, you've already got Disney Plus. There is HBO Max available in the US, owned by Warner Bros.
"The main streaming players are Netflix, Amazon and Apple who are producing some of their own content now, but basically the key media conglomerates are taking back their major content from those streaming players. That is the content war going forward.
"There are eight big streamers all competing for the consumer dollar, but no one has subscriptions for all eight so there will definitely be some casualties there."
The reality is that there is a streaming and content war going on, and it's all about who owns what content.Kieren Dell, Majestic Cinemas
Mr Dell said film industry players like Disney have also been testing their reliance on cinema during the pandemic, but found surprising results.
"The superhero film Black Widow for example was released for $35 on Disney Plus or you could watch it in cinemas at the same time. But the figures are saying that Disney took $60 million sales online and took $215 million in cinemas, not including in China," he said.
"There are new problems because Black Widow has dropped significantly in its second week, they have missed those delayed viewers they could have gotten in a month's time and piracy for Black Widow has shot through the roof because it was released online.
"Unfortunately studios making a film for $200 million, then putting it on a streaming service to make $60 million is not going to pay the actors, directors and costs involved."
Film studios are realising that online piracy is widespread and the profits aren't there, according to Mr Dell.
"The new streaming services have tested a number of things during the pandemic and that has been interesting to see, but blockbuster movies still make their most money in the first three weeks in cinemas," he said.
"It's a complicated ecosystem and there has been an impact with COVID-19 around the world on cinemas.
"These new services are changing the content that comes to cinemas, there is a shift towards big blockbusters for theatre release because the middle size dramas and movies are going straight to streaming or being turned into an eight-hour series.
"There is going to be some interesting interactions along the way but cinemas and streaming are part of the same ecosystem and will likely co-exist."
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