• Ben Johnson

Has COVID-19 broken Hollywood?



Until very recently it seemed cinemas across the globe were at the beck & call of the Hollywood studios, with some theatres in various territories having delayed or postponed plans to reopen as a result of Warner Bros’ decision to push back (twice) the release date of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet”. But then things changed earlier this week: Warner Bros. Pictures Group Chairman Toby Emmerich told the press “We are not treating Tenet like a traditional global day-and-date release, and our upcoming marketing and distribution plans will reflect that.”

With cinemas in key US cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco still closed the decision was made to cancel the film’s delayed August 12th global release date. However Warner Bros are expected to announce a new release date “imminently” and it now seems inevitable the film will debut overseas first - it may even open in smaller US markets before finally making it to the East and West coasts. Such a release model reflects the ever growing importance of the international (ie non US) market, which is still growing and generated around 3.5 times more revenue than North America in 2019, at a time when a new independent release like “Peninsula” (the sequel to acclaimed Korean Zombie flick “Last Train To Busan”) can generate a $20M+ opening weekend from five Asian markets, and the limited partial reopening of Chinese cinemas can bring in $500K on its first day.

There is something else equally significant that the fluid theatrical release plans for “Tenet” reveals: the increased importance of digital as part of the marketing campaign for a major theatrical release. According to Deadline “Warners is looking at a non-traditional marketing campaign for Tenet as well, which will include less TV and outdoor, more digital, along with a more affordable and shorter campaign window”.

It now seems more certain than ever that the theatrical landscape will be changed forever by COVID-19, giving distributors and exhibitors the chance to exploit new opportunities offered by flexible international release dates, flexible theatrical windows, and the bourgeoning PVOD market. Knowing exactly WHO your audience is and HOW they behave has never been so important, which is why Gruvi’s focus on & exploitation of behavioural audience marketing needs to play a major role in any marketing plans you are currently working on – if you would like to know more, contact us via email to set up a free consultation.

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