The ongoing pandemic has affected a great many industries but movie theaters were perhaps hit the hardest. The fact that they rely on tightly packing people in an enclosed area for hours – which is exactly the thing public health experts advise against and authorities have banned – makes them the big losers in these trying times. Since movie theaters are pretty much closed all over the world, movie releases are repeatedly postponed. But a piece of news coming from Warner may make cinema fans feel like winning a jackpot – at least those living in Europe and Asia.
According to a new report from Warner Bros, cited by Variety, the studio is considering the international release of several movies, including Christopher Nolan’s long-awaited and highly anticipated movie Tenet. The report speaks about Warner reaching out to international exhibitors about a potential late August release for the movie in countries like the United Kingdom, Spain, and France. The plan is to release the movie in these countries around August 26-28 – this is, of course, unconfirmed, although the sources cited by Variety speak of a positive response.
At the same time, Sony also plans to release “Father There is Only One 2” early – on August 7 – in Spanish theaters alone. Spain is Europe’s fifth-biggest movie market, and Sony expects to earn a lot from foregoing Disney’s planned release of the live-action version of Mulan on August 21.
Studios have delayed pretty much every single major release this year because of the cinemas’ closing in March. Since then. A series of potential solutions were taken into account to bypass this impasse. Universal has successfully tried to bypass cinemas entirely with its animated feature “Trolls World Tour” this spring – its move was, in turn, received badly by cinemas – AMC even threatened to boycott any Universal release once the theaters reopen.
International releases seem like a viable alternative at this point. “Peninsula”, the much-awaited sequel to “Train to Busan” sold tickets worth more than $20 million in just five Asian markets. China has reopened its cinemas toward the end of last month – with no major releases in sight, though, plus because of the capacity cap at 30%, the business is “sluggish”.
Adapting to a new reality
In the meantime, studios and movie theaters are trying to adapt to a new reality. In a recent deal, AMC Theaters and Universal have agreed to dramatically shorten the time movies are exclusive to theaters. Instead of 70 to 90 days, the new limit is 17 days or three weekends, after which new releases will be allowed to hit streaming services like Amazon, iTunes, or AMC On Demand.
These early streaming releases will cost way more than usual, though. Universal will have to maintain a “premium” pricing for its early digital releases, somewhere around $20, as opposed to the usual $3 to $6, for at least 90 days after the theatrical release. Not to mention that AMC will get a cut of the early releases as well.