As my colleague Maegan recently wrote about, the film industry is facing severe financial ramifications from the global shuttering of cinemas due to COVID-19

Nearly every major studio has delayed the release of their spring and summer movies until a time when cinemas can reopen. But some fans would be happier if the studios made the films available to watch at home now, instead of having to wait months to see them in the cinema.

The reluctance to release expensive blockbusters digitally is understandable, given how even priced higher than most digital releases, it would be impossible for a film to make as much money through online purchase as it would have in cinemas under normal circumstances.

Studios are now in the position of having to gauge how dire their financial situation is and decide whether a small influx of cash now is worth sacrificing a larger box office haul a year from now. 

Universal is taking this gamble, making animated sequel Trolls World Tour available for digital purchase as of April 6, foregoing the traditional theatrical release model that has been the cornerstone of the movie industry since its inception.

Paramount sold its spring comedy The Lovebirds, starring Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae, to Netflix, where it will drop on the service later this year.

Disney, though it set new dates to release its most hotly-anticipated titles like Mulan and Black Widow in cinemas later this year, announced that sci-fi movie Artemis Fowl would debut exclusively on Disney Plus

The dumping of Artemis Fowl onto the nascent streaming service was perhaps a merciful move, sparing it from being labeled a flop in the press. Weak box office numbers seemed inevitable for the long-delayed project, which cost $125 million to make and has been generating little buzz. 

Though audiences hungry for new entertainment options might rejoice at getting early access to these films, this is undoubtedly a blow to the tradition of cinema-going. 

Going to see new releases is meant to be a communal experience. You are supposed to be in a dark cinema surrounded by other members of the public sharing laughs, tears, or scares. This feeling cannot be replicated at home, with roommates interrupting, dogs barking and sunlight streaming in through the windows.

Streaming a movie is simply no match for the magic of seeing one on the big screen. And as for the films that are now delayed, I’ll gladly wait to see them when this is all over.

Photo by Felix Mooneeram on Unsplash.

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