Warner Bros’ Hybrid Distribution Model Disappointed Independent Cinema Alliance; NATO Is Silent

The Independent Cinema Alliance (ICA) is not pleased by the Warner Bros.’ 2021 release plan. The studio has announced that it will release some of its blockbuster movies on HBO Max on the same day in theatres.

ICA is the trade association that represents independent film and TV programming worldwide. It also produces, finance, and license independent contents. The team calls the studio of Clint Eastwood, Stanley Kubrick, and Harry Potter to recommend the theater’s poshness. They said that the value of films is driven by theater and not by the streaming platform.

ICA appreciates the “hybrid distribution models” of Warner Bros. During the pandemic, the models have some fair terms, and they do not reflect any long time shifts in the distribution business.

However, there are no words from the National Association of Theatre Owners regarding the issue. NATO is a US-based organization, and the members are the owners of the major theater chains. The organization was founded in 1965 by the merger of the theater trade. NATO has a long-running magazine named Box Office between 2001 and 2007. It initiated the American Movie Awards held at the Wilshire Theater, Beverly Hills, California.

In this matter, NATO follows its usual motto that as a trade, they do not advise or dictate how studios should do their business. The same organization roared against Universal for launching its “Premium video on demand” model on Trolls World Tour in between the pandemic.

In April this year, Universal released the 2020 movie Trolls World Tour on PVoD, and the project did a visibly smaller business than the 2016 Trolls. It was available as a digital rental for $19.99 in April, and after three weeks, it collected around $100 million, which the first movie collected $153.7 million. However, despite the low collection, the studio made a better profit than the previous one as for theatrical release, the organization had to spend around 50% of the revenue. So, according to that, Universal made only $77 million from Trolls. And for Trolls World Tour, the studio retained about 80% of the collection.

Not to forget NATO’s ultimatum to Netflix when it refuses to accept a longer-term window during the release of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. So if the organization wants to save the theatres for real, then this is the most crucial time to do that more than ever.

While talking on the matter, ICA said that “extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.” ICA is also disappointed by Warner Media’s questionable decision. They added that the studio is right; their content is extremely valuable, but it should understand that their values are best explored in theatres and not on streaming platforms. ICA called a meeting with WB and the other partners to rewrite the commitment to exclusive theatrical content.

The Independent Cinema Alliance welcomes the studio’s short-term proposal while it fears the long-term implementation would destroy the cinemas. ICA believes the short-term plan would form a distribution bridge during this pandemic, and it would also support the independent exhibitors with new theatrical releases by strong marketing campaigns.

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