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Studios Try Something New: Selling Their Movies to Streamers


Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 garnered plenty of discussion and a lot of critical acclaim when it came out last month on Netflix… but that wasn’t the plan. It was supposed to be one of the films Paramount released this year in theaters.


How did it end up on the small screen? Paramount realized their options were waiting to release movies, releasing them into mostly empty theaters or simply selling them to a streamer for guaranteed cash.


It’s not a minor decision, and this selling of movies, even ones that haven’t been filmed yet, are turning Paramount into a creator of content unconcerned about things like marketing and opening screens.


Is this ideal?


Well, the crux of the situation is that it’s low risk, low reward. While the sequel to Coming to America may be sold for a reportedly $125 million, if the film breaks through and becomes a massive hit for Amazon Prime, then Paramount will have let a blockbuster slip through their fingers.


And while some would describe this move as a survival tactic, it allows studios with vast resources and name recognition to make films that could potentially thrive on streaming but would fare much worse in theaters.


But how would a studio figure that out? If they have a large library, like Paramount, then by using AI they could lower their risk even more but increase that reward.


Using content Intelligence to analyze a library of films would allow studios to determine the elements of their films that did well (or poorly) in either theaters or after the theatrical run, whether that was on VHS or digital.


When this kind of analysis is laid out, studios could look at the movies they are producing and begin to make strategic decisions on whether they should prepare a film for theaters (whenever they may open again) or instead shop it around to a streamer and sell off the whole thing.


This has the potential to not only spare the studio some of its fears about producing certain films, but it may also in fact promote the production of films that would do well on Netflix but possibly struggle at theaters.


In other words, if a studio used AI to its advantage and made these determinations on how best to manage new films they may be encouraged to produce content that can take chances and push creativity while worrying less about their bottom line.


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