Disney, that media and theme park behemoth, has decided that there is one basket they would like to put many of their eggs into: streaming. From this article:
... the company revealed that in order to further accelerate its direct-to-consumer strategy, it would be centralizing its media businesses into a single organization that will be responsible for content distribution, ad sales and Disney+.
This means that in Disney’s view the shadow of Covid is not going to go away anytime soon. But it also means that they see the other issues with the theater business. From this article:
The problem, specifically for movie theaters, is that Hollywood has not produced a new top-tier global blockbuster franchise since The Hunger Games in 2012. All of the top-tier live-action franchises since then have been new installments in established superhero brands (Black Panther, Aquaman, Deadpool, Venom, etc.), revitalized brands from decades past (Star Wars, Jurassic World, Jumanji) or ongoing franchises that have continued to thrive (Fast & Furious, James Bond, Mission: Impossible). Even Hollywood animation hasn’t produced any original blockbusters since Pixar’s Coco in late 2017.
While Marvel may still have a license to print money, original IP (intellectual property) is a tough sell nowadays. And unless it’s a sure thing, even if we go back to a pre-Covid theater experience, studios may have lost the desire to take those kinds of risks on the big screen.
There are a million business and creativity implications here, but if studios are truly going to start focusing the bulk of their film endeavors for the smaller screen, this is the perfect time for them to start using AI.
The ways that studios test their films can only catch so much. Bringing people into theaters and having them self-consciously make decisions on what they like and don’t offers too narrow a view of the true impact of the film.
But if these films are debuting on streaming networks, that means a massive amount of possibilities to see what is truly impacting viewers. Instead of surveys and test screenings, AI can track the way people are watching a film and determine what is truly resonating. By looking at stops, rewinds, fast forwarding and pauses, millions connections can be made between the audience and the elements of the content.
It’s hard to top the theater experience. And Disney’s shift doesn’t mean you’ll never eat a giant tub of popcorn again. But if more films find their way to streaming, there is a better chance that studios will better understand what you really want to see.