OTT Platforms Take Over Cinema as COVID-19 Locks the Audience Out
The release of a new Korean film “Space Sweepers”, starring Song Joong-Ki, Kim Tae-Ri, Jin Sun-Kyu, and Yoo Hae-Jin, is only less than a month away. The movie is an SF movie, which is a unique genre amongst Korean films, and it was considered one of the most anticipated films in 2020. However, the movie decides to take a safe route and is making its debut through Netflix instead of local theaters after several delays of release due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has hit the movie theater industry hard, leaving new films nowhere to go. In Korea, the movie industry is facing an unprecedented pitfall as the total number of audiences that visited the movie theater last year was only 6 million which is 30% less than the number from last year.
A greater issue is that such a phenomenon is apparent not only in Korea but also all around the world. Therefore, due to a decreasing number of visitors in movie theaters, releasing new films at movie theaters and OTT platforms simultaneously is becoming a new global trend.
Ann Sarnoff, the chairman and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, commented on Warner Bros.’ decision to release its films both in theaters and on HBO Max together this year. She added, “We’re pivoting to the environment we’re living in” and acknowledged that it would be extremely difficult to release films only in theaters at the moment.
This year, the film industry will be utilizing OTT platforms increasingly in order to successfully make its way to their audiences.
For instance, every major DC movie will be released on HBO Max, and some of the new Marvel films, such as MCU: Phase 4 and Black Widow, are being considered to be released through Disney Plus instead of debuting through theaters. Disney has already given up releasing its new animation movie “Soul” and released it through Disney Plus instead.
While OTT platforms may seem to be the only hope left for the film industry during the pandemic, some people, including Christopher Nolan, argue that the value of well-made films will degenerate to nothing more than a company’s strategy used to bait users.
Regardless, as such a trend continues, OTT platforms will be gaining the maximum profits off COVID-19 for sure. Along with the rise of OTT platforms, there will indeed be more brutal competition as the preference for such platforms from various consumers does not seem to slow down any time soon.