Same-day theatrical and streaming releases are dead, says NATO’s John Fithian

NATO President and CEO John Fithian speaks during CinemaCon 2021 The State of the Industry and MGM/UAR Presentation at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of NATO National Association of Theater Owners on August 24, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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LAS VEGAS — The death of cinema has been greatly exaggerated — that’s the theme for this year’s CinemaCon.

Instead, it was the same-day release model for theaters and streaming that kicked off the popcorn bucket, according to John Fithian, president and CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners.

“I’m happy to report that simulcast is dead as a serious business model, and piracy is what killed it,” Fithian said Tuesday in his annual speech at CinemaCon, which his organization hosts. “When a blank copy of a movie gets online and spreads, it has a very detrimental impact on our industry.”

Fithian’s remarks came after a lengthy speech by Charles Rivkin, president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association, about the dangers of digital piracy to the theater industry and how the MPA is working to combat downloads. illegal film content.

“On average, pirating before release can cost you up to 20% of box office revenue, your revenue,” he told theater owners on Tuesday. “And with the right efforts to educate consumers, lawmakers and the media, we can continue to build a culture that recognizes piracy for what it is – theft, plain and simple, and a direct threat to creators. the creative workforce, and the creative community everywhere.”

Throughout the Covid pandemic, day and date releases have become a necessary part of the box office recovery process. However, as more consumers have returned to theaters, the need for these kinds of releases has diminished. Theater owners are optimistic that crowds will return, especially after lucrative box office performances of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “The Batman” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2.”

Studios and industry executives are acutely aware of the power of a dedicated box office window for a film and how devastating piracy can be to potential revenue. That’s why Disney scheduled the 2019 release of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to coincide in China and North America on the same date to ensure the majority of potential audiences can see the movie in theaters before it’s released. hacked online.

While some studios have opted to implement occasional day and date releases, typically films with low to mid-range budgets or those that cater to a moviegoer demographic that has been slow to come back, most studios committed to showing their films. for at least 45 days before placing them on the domestic market.

In fact, Sony’s Motion Picture Group chairman Josh Greenstein boasted that “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which released in December, sat in theaters for 88 days before being available to the public via other platforms. “No Way Home” grossed around $1.9 billion at the worldwide box office when it hit theaters.

“As you analyze title by title, it becomes very clear that piracy spikes are most drastic when a movie is first available at home: regardless of whether it’s available via premium video at home. demand or subscription video on demand,” said Fithien. “Robust movie windows protect against piracy. If a major title that people clamor to see in theaters is released too quickly at home and then pirated, the temptation to stay home and watch pirated movies becomes bigger for many would-be moviegoers.”

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