Well, it’s happened.
After a protracted debate over whether a destined blockbuster like Wonder Woman 1984 would be released in theaters or on streaming, the answer is both.
Yes, on Christmas Day, the superhero sequel will be shown in whatever theaters are open and also stream on HBO Max. It’s a compromise situation that clearly skews more towards the reality that the movies the studios didn’t want to release until Covid was over may be coming out sooner than expected.
While other 2020 films still have no clear release dates, which has pushed back later films that were already in the queue, this is the clearest sign that waiting and hoping for things to get better may not be enough.
So what should studios do now that this has gone from a worst-case scenario to maybe their best option? With AI they could make some strategic decisions.
One of those comes down to deciding whether to run it for free on a streaming service, like HBO Max is doing, or charge an additional fee like Disney+ did with Mulan. By using AI, a streamer would be able to analyze the elements of its current content to determine the possible level of engagement, and to get a better sense of if enough of its customers would be willing to pay the additional fee. This could then make up for some of loss with fewer theater showings.
Or, by looking at the elements of the shows that have attracted subscribers, streamers could see if what these films contain would be enough to drive a large enough group of new people to sign up for their service.
Additionally, if the studio has no partnerships with where it needs to run, having each potential streamer show what kind of content their own subscribers are interested in would go a long way in making sure that these films get seen by the most ideal audience.
It is still unclear what will happen to the modern blockbuster, and plenty of us hope to be back watching these films while eating a tub of popcorn. But until then, studios need to start thinking seriously about how to best present them in the audience’s living room.