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Streaming disrupts the future of movie theatres

Businesses and industries are constantly changing. Without stating the obvious this is also true for the movie theatres. One blogger said, “the industry needs to rethink what a cinema experience is…and it isn’t about how comfy the seats are.”

What are perhaps flashing warning lights is whether theatre business is struggling or declining. The US 2019 box office is down nine percent from 2018, and soon the theatres’ Netflix battle will be joined by Disney+, Apple+, WarnerMedia, amongst others. Even Hollywood is worried and recently The New York Times assembled influential figures from the film industry to assess the state of movie going. The messages ranged from “I don’t feel particularly optimistic about the traditional theatrical experience, especially for independent films” to “You’ve got so many options for viewing content that there has to be a need for you to leave your home. What is going to drive you to do that?” The younger market seldom go to theatre more than 1-3 times a year, and only for the biggest blockbusters of the year. The future is streaming and innovative growth strategies. In October 2019, US-based movie theatre chain AMC debuted AMC Theatres On Demand, its movie streaming service for AMC Stubs loyalty program members. The theatre partnered with Disney, Sony and Warner Bros to let members rent or buy 2000 titles at home, at the same time they debut on other streaming services. Every time a viewer streams a movie, they earn points for their Stubs account. Movies can be purchased for up to USD 19.99, and rented for up to USD 5.99. The move comes after AMC observed declining attendance at its theatres. True, a night out at the movies can get very costly, especially when you factor in traffic, parking and concessions. In South Africa going out at night also holds safety concerns nowadays. It all adds up, and many prefer binge-watching movies and TV shows in the comfort of their homes. It is cheaper to chill at home. Everyone is moving to subscriptions in entertainment. These are interesting times...