Streaming Platforms Trump Theatres During Pandemic

2 min read Questions are swarming about what is happening with theatres and various streaming platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Movie theatre filled with people

Photo by Jake Hills: Even when movie theatres were opening, I had a personal fear of infection if I saw a movie in person. 

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By Michael Aaron Coopersmith | mcoopersmith@radford.edu 

Are movies coming back? It’s been a question that has been swimming around in the back of my mind. 

Nearing the end of 2020, the great oasis of movie distribution had run dry due to the COVID-19 pandemic running rampant. Understandably, the entertainment industry had to delay production and distribution to coincide with COVID-19 lockdowns.  

As major lockdowns in certain states let up, individual businesses were able to operate again. 

Theatres, namely, were able to operate under new social distancing procedures. Even when movie theatres were opening, I had a personal fear of infection if I saw a movie in person. 

I have yet to go to a movie theatre. But this may have also been reinforced by streaming sites upping their content and distribution rights.

I have yet to go to a movie theatre. But this may have also been reinforced by streaming sites upping their content and distribution rights.  

Streaming platforms had been growing in popularity and diverse content long before COVID-19 first appeared. Many streaming platforms had even started to produce their own content. These platforms knew that there was money and obtaining credibility in creating their own content.  

Disney+, a relatively young movie and tv show streaming platform, has created the Mandalorian and released new Star Wars the Clone Wars seasons.

With that in mind, HBO Max found a way to capitalize on the lack of new movies getting into distribution. Wonder Woman 1984 was one of the first movies to be released on the platform. Yet, the competitive edge they had over other platforms was the fact that they didn’t charge an extra fee for watching the film. 

Disney+ had released Mulan on their platform yet charged their users the equivalent of a month of the subscription fee. Surprisingly, the movie did not do exceptionally well with box office returns: only making $70 million out of a $200 million budget.

 HBO Max plans to release more films over this year, thus filling in the gap that the industry had been trying to overcome.  

Yet, as President Joe Biden has announced that the COVID-19 vaccine should be available to all adults by the end of July, it seems that people that have been following social distancing procedures have gained the confidence to resume outside activities that they had to put on hold. 

Could this save in-person movie viewing, or will the industry continue to just use streaming sites to distribute their products?