As a completely disrupted film industry reels from the COVID pandemic, studios are taking different approaches with a couple of their biggest investments of 2020. While some are driving forward with theatrical releases as exhibitors slowly reopen, others are diving straight into streaming in an effort to replace waning theater audiences with the thriving streaming scene. Time will tell how each industry performs over the next several months, but things are certainly looking promising for streaming.

Prior to the pandemic, the industry had been booming, with record $41.8B and $42.2B global box office revenues in 2018 and 2019 respectively. And with a $205M project like Tenet facing continuous release delays, many were clamoring for a streaming release. After all, the pandemic has only strengthened the already rapidly growing streaming industry, capitalizing on captive audiences during sequestering. But Warner Bros insisted on a theatrical release for the hopeful blockbuster, being the biggest experiment in testing how far pandemic-weary audiences are willing to go.

On the other end of the spectrum, we see Disney’s live-action Mulan adaptation, a $200M investment which faced numerous release delays, now bypassing theatrical altogether for an exclusive release on their surging Disney+ platform. Time will tell if the premium $29.99 price (in addition to a Disney+ subscription) is successful in recouping estimated theater losses, but with the recent platform’s rapidly growing subscriber base, which essentially includes half the nation’s families with children, the strategy could spell success, and potentially lead to the studio looking more toward its own streaming delivery for future releases as well.

While many summer movies have already foregone theatrical releases in favor of streaming, none have been as high-profile as Tenet and Mulan, and the industry will be watching audience reaction closely. Almost everything is going digital these days, and for good reason. A mature, modern streaming industry provides studios with adequate release capabilities, massive audiences, and a variety of distribution and purchase options. And with a rabid and rapidly growing audience of sequestered movie watchers, now has never been a better time for film studios to test new methods for reaching wider audiences through streaming.

From a marketing perspective, it is still all about driving fans to content, be it in a movie house or a streaming platform. And the only place people are engaging with streaming platforms off the platform, and upcoming blockbusters outside of the theater, is social media. Social engagement is on the rise and the insights from fan engagement allows brands and advertisers to discover and target the most likely customers, no matter where they are. Give us a shout at audiences@affinityanswers.com to see how we can help you better target movie and streaming fans across any platform.