Published in El Pais, 28 July 2020.
With things improving, theatres are allowed to reopen at a reduced capacity. For fanatics this is good news as they can finally enjoy a movie in the big screen. I must confess I thoroughly enjoy the cinema and often go several times a month but I will not be rushing to the line to buy my ticket once they open up near me and it actually has nothing to do with the virus.
The fact is production companies long before the pandemic started delaying their blockbuster releases as they feared attendance would dwindle due to fears of the virus even if the world had not shut down. Movies like James Bond and Black Widow are titles that are finished but may not be released for some time, while others like Trolls World Tour are opting for straight to streaming, skipping the cinema all together. This means that for those that head to the movies your selection will consist of films that are most likely available to enjoy at home and that likely will not change for some time.
For their part, production companies like Disney have been adamant that they will not release their blockbuster films for straight to streaming and will continue to push back release dates should they feel it is in their best interest to do so, meaning movie theatres likely have a long-term future but that does not mean other companies share the same sentiment, at least not for all of their movies. Lower budget titles may be able to attract a wider audience making them straight to stream and with changing habits companies may even have to give in with blockbuster movies if no one goes to the movies anymore.
The benefit for the consumer is obvious, we can watch it at home for a fraction of the price and with snacks that do not cost an arm and a leg. Production companies can recover some of their loss by charging more for rental fees than normal as well as retain all the profits. The real loser here are the cinema companies and only time will tell if they can survive.