Cinemas started out as the only distribution channel for the film industry. They survived the television era by negotiating ‘theatre window’ deals with film studios whereby blockbuster films had to be shown in cinemas for up to 90 days. But the Covid lockdown may have caused a sea change in viewing habits, though it is too early to say to what degree.
Last December, Warner Bros announced that all its 2021 films are to be released in the US on the HBO Max streaming service on the same day as the cinemas. It is therefore not at all clear that cinemas will regain their role as the main distribution channel for films. Will customers, now happily watching films on any one of the burgeoning number of streaming services at home, want to go back to the cinema?