Could the rise in home entertainment lead to box office struggles?
It has long been a suggestion that changes in digital media could lead to what could be best described as a power struggle between the growing medium and the traditional old guard. A recent example of this, especially during this crisis, can be found in the growth of online casinos whilst brick and mortar locations have remained closed.
Although many are now reopening a list of non-UK casinos on this page are still capturing growing attention because of the current global crisis and a changing attitude towards digital media as an older audience also are finding increasing use in these online platforms. The next big shift seen however could be within home entertainment and the longer lasting impact on the box office.
This isn’t a new change either, the struggles of cinema have been long realized as increasing ticket prices have done their part in keeping customers away – what may not be fully realized by many however is that ticket sales often do not make up any profit for cinemas and revenue is instead generated from concessions – but as many look to home streaming platforms the need to visit cinema decreases.
The spread of the coronavirus has also presented a number of new challenges to cinema and theatre as a whole as they have remained closed throughout the lockdown period – moving forward it may be difficult to encourage movie goers into a closed environment where they are surrounded by a larger group of strangers, once again leading more viewers to remain at home.
There have already been examples of on-demand streaming beating out the box office too, as Universal Studios found out with a recent release.
But others are also willing to sacrifice a long theatrical run in favor of streaming as Disney+ recently announced that the musical of Hamilton would now only feature exclusively on the streaming platform, removing a year long plan and what could be hundreds of millions in revenue. These combined changes in a time of uncertainty could be what leads to a faster demise for cinema and theatre and the continued growth in home entertainment.
Unless major changes can be made in the industry to allow for either cheaper attendance or safeguards to ensure that visitors can remain safe and healthy, it’s unlikely cinema and theatre will see anyone flock back to the silver screen.
Many big chains and independent locations have already voiced concern around potential recovery and the longer current issues are drawn out, the further away from a clean chance to capture an audience they move – this type of business will be amongst the very last to be allowed to open again.
In answer to the question posed, whilst home entertainment may not be the direct cause for the box office decline, it may turn out to be the final nail in the coffin as it serves as a viable replacement, if big studios get onboard and allow for on-demand releases side by side, the data may speak for itself.