It comes as no surprise that 2020 was a record breaking year for the international home entertainment market, with everyone staying safely indoors and cinemas closed the streamers have provided some of the only new entertainment available. However, the results published at the start of the year in the trades are not forecasts, and while January 2021 looks a lot like April 2020, it’s a reasonable bet that this year will look a little different. Eventually.
There’s a great deal of speculation that the theatrical experience is doomed, or that it will return to full swing in no time. We’re not in the predictions game, but these perspectives feel very drastic, and binary. We are fans of the communal experience of cinema just as much as a good box set binge on the sofa. What we have seen in among our team, and the community at large, an increasing desire to find those shared experiences beyond a computer screen, and we’re optimistic that will translate into a strong theatrical market in the long run.
There are challenges ahead, that much is certain; a crowded theatrical market when cinemas fully re-open and a glut of pent up films scramble to find their audiences presents few easy wins. The increase in streaming platforms and the drop-off rate of subscribers likewise threatens the new VOD business models and the few forays into PVOD film releases has yet to demonstrate a reliable path to achieve numbers the industry expects.
Does that mean the landscape as we knew it is forever changed? We think the changes heralded by the pandemic are simply the latest evolution for an industry which has been forever reinventing itself, far more regularly than the generational shifts to which commentators tend to refer.