The pandemic has had a seismic effect on the entertainment industry at large, and we’re now approaching eighteen months of uncertainty with no end in sight. One of the business strategies that reverberated around Hollywood saw a number of studios either send a slew of high profile projects straight to streaming or auction them off to the highest bidder, as has been the case with Paramount and Sony.
The former made the decision to offload the likes of Coming 2 America, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Without Remorse and The Tomorrow War to Amazon because Paramount+ wasn’t quite up and running at the time, while the latter have handed four titles over to Netflix including The Mitchells vs. the Machines and Kevin Hart’s Fatherhood.
Theater owners and talent alike have blasted Disney and Warner Bros. for adopting the hybrid release model when business is in desperate need of a boost, and Sony chairman Tom Rothman has now launched a scathing attack on day-and-date premieres, ironically using the Mouse House-owned Free Guy as an example to illustrate his point.
“I saw Free Guy on Cape Cod. That film has done great business because, number one it’s terrific and number two, you actually can’t watch it at home on television! Go f*cking figure. You remember Bill Clinton and, ‘It’s the economy stupid?’. It’s the window, stupid! Yeah, we’re not too bright out in Hollywood but we’ll figure it out.”
Of course, there might be an element of sour grapes when Sony don’t have a streaming service to call their own, and the film division’s entire 2021 rests almost entirely on the shoulders of Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Spider-Man: No Way Home from a box office perspective. However, you can’t deny that continuing to rely on hybrid releases is only going to have a detrimental effect on the cinematic experience in the long run, so let’s hope things largely return to normal by next year.