Both Cineplex and Landmarks Cinemas have recently closed all theatres country-wide for an undetermined amount of time. This comes mainly due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Canada. A Cineplex spokesperson stated that the shut down will be effective until at least April 2 until the company plans to meet to reassess the situation whereas Landmark has not disclosed a time until the reversal of their closures.
In light of these events, studios have decided to take the films that had already been playing in theatres and release them to VOD streaming from home. Films included in this started from Frozen 2 being released to Disney+ months before schedule and now include the following:
- Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker
- The Hunt
- The Invisible Man
- Birds of Prey
- The Gentleman
- Just Mercy
- Sonic The Hedgehog
- The Way Back
- Trolls: World Tour
All films that weren’t being connected to streaming services at the moment will all be priced at $1,999, with the inflation due to the films being new releases.
The interesting one in that list comes from Trolls 2 (of all films) due to it being the only one not already in theatres when all cinemas were shut down. If the film does well financially through VOD, this could indicate to movie studios that, once theatres are re-opened, they don’t need to wait for audiences to go pay for a seat at the movies when they could just release it in Google Play or Itunes and receive the same profit.
In response to this, Christopher Nolan (director of such films as Inception, Dunkirk and the upcoming Tenet) wrote an op-ed to The Washinton Post stating “ When people think about movies, their minds first go to the stars, the studios, the glamour,”. Nolan continued, arguing “But the movie business is about everybody: the people working the concession stands, running the equipment, taking tickets, booking movies, selling advertising and cleaning bathrooms in local theatres. Regular people, many paid hourly wages rather than a salary, earn a living running the most affordable and democratic of our community gathering places.”