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Will New James Bond Movie Be Released To Streaming In OZ?

With Cinema’s in Australia shutdown, questions are now being asked as to when and how the new James Bond movie will be released and locally, whether it will be first run streamed.

At the weekend MGM and Universal announced that they will push ahead with the premiere of No Time to Die in London on September 28 however no date has been set for Australia.

The $250m Bond film has been delayed three times since its original 2020 release date with speculation now mounting that Australians may get the chance to buy the movie over a streaming service.

Questions are also being raised about other movies including Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife or Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick as to whether they will be released over Australia’s summer as originally planned or pushed back.

Australian movie and streaming industry executives have been stopped from attending this week’s CinemaCon, the movie theatre industry’s biggest conference which is set to discuss the issue of first release for streaming Vs cinemas.

John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners told the Financial Times, “The last 18 months have been the biggest existential challenge to moviegoing ever,”.

He said that he was confident the industry can return to the record-breaking levels of 2019, when ticket sales reached $43bn, and that viewers will return to cinemas to see some “great movies soon”.

Others are not so sure claiming the 2019 box office may have been the high-water mark for the cinema industry.

Cinema owners were alarmed last year by Hollywood studios’ who moved to “simultaneous release” of films in theatres and on streaming services during the pandemic, and many believe they represent an inevitable change to the economics of their business.

Disney and Warner shocked theatre owners and A-list actors by releasing summer popcorn movies Black Widow and Godzilla vs Kong on their streaming services at the same time as the theatrical release, eating into the potential box office take.

This is a worry for the big cinema chains claims observers.

“The theatres are really fighting for their lives,” said Jeff Bock, senior media analyst at Exhibitor Relations. “You wonder if people are ever going to go back to [watching films] the way they did.”

The aggressive streaming moves by Disney and Warner Bros set off a furious reaction, with the theatre owners’ lobby group blasting the decision and actress Scarlett Johansson filing a lawsuit against Disney for breach of contract. Disney has said the suit is “without merit”.

But Wall Street has cheered the studios’ belated move to follow Netflix into streaming, with investors bidding up shares on strong subscription numbers for Warner’s HBO Max and Disney’s Disney + streaming services.

“The incentives for studios are not about profitability or how to get the best return on a movie, but about driving subscriptions,” Fithian told the FT.

Valuing subscription numbers over profits is not sustainable, he said, making a shakeout among streaming services inevitable. Cinemas may not enjoy the long “windows of exclusivity” they had before the pandemic, “but they also won’t be the same as during the pandemic”.

For now, the cinema owners are hoping that rising vaccination rates will give movie fans confidence to return to the cinema.

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