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Dune Signals the Perils of Post-Pandemic Blockbusters

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

While we are not in a post-pandemic world yet, Dune’s release on October 22nd is certainly going to be a weathervane for how studios approach event movies for the foreseeable future.

And least that is part of the theory in this pessimistic article about the sci-fi epic being released in both theaters and on HBO Max Oct. 22nd. Here is an excerpt:

It’s a film that could remind us of the primacy — and profitability — of the theater experience. You wouldn’t want every movie to be like “Dune.” But you want “Dune” to be “Dune.” If it turns into the commercially compromised, lagging version of itself, that becomes a gigantic blown opportunity. And everyone suffers.

This is the author lamenting that the film, which he believes should be experienced in the theater by as many people as possible, will be harmed both artistically and commercially by streaming it same-day on HBO Max.

But even if he’s wrong, her certainly brings up some very relevant points about what studios need to consider when the pandemic slows down further and theaters can once again be the primary destination for films.

And these considerations should probably involve AI.

Warner Bros., which has been making the decisions that have affected multiple films during Covid, now has a bounty of data showing viewer behaviors on HBO Max, churn and box office receipts. By using something like Resonance AI, they would be able to examine that data with a new perspective, looking deeper into the elements of content and gaining a broader understanding of what content will be successful enough to release in both theaters and on streaming.

This includes an understanding of how the content is resonating with audiences on HBO Max, and what is keeping their attention or losing it. By analyzing the elements present in the films, and tracking their success rates, studios will have a much better understanding of whether to focus on revenue or subscribers.

Instead of using intuition to decide which movies should end up in the theater, on streaming or both, AI can help match the content with viewer preferences and help studios decide what is going to, in the long run, be the best for everyone.

No one knows exactly what the future of movies holds. But AI can be one of the most valuable tools to make that future bright.

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