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Coronavirus: First Run Movies To Be Streamed Ahead Of Cinema

As the Federal Government move to shut down Cinema’s due to the Coronavirus, movie studios are looking to give streaming Companies such as Fetch, Foxtel and Netflix the opportunity to release first run movies that would normally go to a cinema first.

NBCUniversal is just one Hollywood studio that is set to add further pain to the cinema industry by offering a trial of what would normally be a theatrical first release to cinema’s as an in-home rental.

NBCUniversal is not alone in testing the appetite of stay at home Starting with DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour, new theatrical releases will be available for a 48-Hour rental period from NBCUniversal sister companies Comcast and Sky in the US and European markets.

Other suppliers are set to follow NBCUniversal’s lead include Sony, Roadshow with Disney also set to work with Apple to test new streaming arrangements according to sources.

ChannelNews understands that the studio is in discussions with streaming Companies in Australia as they believe that “now is the time to test the concept of whether consumers will pay a premium price of around $24.95 for a first run movie” said one source.

“While still cheaper than taking a family to the movies it is still uncharted territory in Australia for movie Companies” they said.

“Universal Pictures has a broad and diverse range of movies with 2020 being no exception,” said Jeff Shell, NBCUniversal CEO. “Rather than delaying these films or releasing them into a challenged distribution landscape, we wanted to provide an option for people to view these titles in the home that is both accessible and affordable.

“We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theatres where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible.”

The 48-hour rental period will cost around $24.95.

It is slightly more cost effective than going to the cinema, but whether this proves to be an adequate replacement from an experience perspective is unknown.

The four main contenders to get first run content are Netflix, Foxtel, Fetch TV and Stan.

The move comes as the entertainment industry grapples with three essential questions: How painful will the toll of shutdowns be on the industry be?

How high will the financial losses climb?

And how will the business handle the unprecedented domino effect on Hollywood’s traditional calendar?

Variety Magazine claims that the avalanche of hasty cancellations and delays to events and premieres that fuel the industry’s engines of commerce will spread the impact of the COVID-19 catastrophe well past 2020.

The likelihood that a recession is looming in both Australia and the USA will magnify the pain for major media conglomerates. Industry observers say the freefall of the Dow Jones into bear market territory has put an instant chill, at least temporarily, on acquisition and investment pacts.

Organisations such as Foxtel are already facing the loss of commercial revenue from pubs and clubs who are not allowed to accommodate 100+ people/

Senior industry executives have told ChannelNews that if the testing of streamed first run movies are successful it could become the “New norm” in Australia and if it does take off it could be the end for cinemas.

Privately they say that there is one certainty on the horizon and that that only the strong will survive the fallout.

Weaker businesses and industry traditions that were already past their prime — notably a host of conferences and trade shows, film festivals and the springtime ritual of the network upfronts — will have a hard time enduring the blow of a sudden shutdown.

And with dozens and dozens of productions forced to go dark unexpectedly, including at least two dozen pilots for the 2020-21 broadcast TV season, industry insiders predict the bubble on the Peak TV phenomenon may finally burst.

Looking at the statistics, annual admissions over the course of the last decade have remained relatively stagnant.

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