Same-day cinema and streaming releases are dead

Movie theaters aren’t dead, but the practice of releasing films in theaters and on streaming services on the same day is.

John Fithian, president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, said piracy is the main reason behind the change.

“I am pleased to announce that simultaneous release is dead as a serious business model, and piracy is what killed it,” Mr. Fithian said Tuesday in his annual address at CinemaCon, the association’s official convention, CNBC reported. “When a pristine copy of a movie makes its way online and spreads, it has a very damaging impact on our industry.”

Simultaneous releases became a necessity during the pandemic as box office revenue plummeted from $11 billion in 2019 to $2.18 billion in 2020, according to to S&P Global.

Sales grew 98%, to $4.33 billion, last year but fell far short of pre-pandemic levels.

Motion Picture Association President Charles Rivkin said cutting down on piracy can boost the numbers.

“On average pre-release piracy can take away as much as 20% of box office revenue — your revenue,” Mr. Rivkin told theater owners Tuesday, CNBC reported. “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.”

Progress has already been made: The Motion Picture Association’s antipiracy campaign reduced the number of illegal websites and streaming services in North America from 1,400 in 2019 to just 200 currently, according to to Variety.

Theater owners are optimistic going forward. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has brought in more than $804 million in the US since its release in December, and “The Batman” has grossed more than $300 million in seven weeks, according to to Box Office Mojo.

The momentum is expected to continue with popular sequels in the “Black Panther,” “Jurassic World,” and “Thor” series set to come out later this year.

“Blockbusters are the keystone of this industry, and we have a great slate of really big movies,” Mr. Fithian said, Variety reported.

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