In a time when success in cinema has been more elusive than ever, Blumhouse founder Jason Blum has found a model that works.
By keeping his budgets tight whilst also letting his directors have essentially free reign, Blum has smartly been able to effectively corner the genre market with a range of successful films and franchises over the past decade. He’s also unafraid of shaking up distribution models, such as with straight-to-streaming features like the recent “Into the Dark” anthology for Hulu.
Speaking on the Ben Shapiro Show (via JoBlo) this week, Blum was asked what he thinks is going to happen to the theatrical business and film industry after the current COVID-19 pandemic has past. He understandably thinks we’ll see a change to the way things are done:
“I think it’s not realistic to think all the studios are going to wait four months before they put a movie at home. They just can’t compete, they’re going to have to compete with Amazon and Netflix and Apple in a different way. There’s going to be shifts. The consumer is going to be more used to staying at home. Something is going to give, there has to be something that’s going to happen post-corona. The movie business will look different after the coronavirus.
I don’t think theaters are ever going to go away. The collective experience of going to a theater and taking in a movie, I think that’s going to be around for a long time. I think there’ll be less movies in theaters, there’ll be less of a selection, or I should say, there’ll be many many fewer movies in theaters with the window, and I think there’ll be many many more movies in theaters, but they only last for a week or two.”
Indeed the mandatory theatrical window model for all films, which was already ignored by some smaller arthouse distributors like Magnolia Pictures and IFC Films pre-coronavirus, may well spread out to other films in the small-to-medium budget range as exhibitors may be forced to become more flexible and adaptive in order to survive.
Investors certainly are shaken up by all this with the three biggest cinema chains falling between 58-76% in stock price this month, while even the unassailable IMAX has fallen 41% according to Variety. Last week cinema owners asked the federal government for a bailout, but it’s not clear yet if the recent $2 trillion package in Congress will include everything the community is seeking. Most are looking at what will happen with AMC, the world’s biggest exhibition company which had $4.9 billion in debt on its books at the end of 2019.
The National Association of Theater Owners however remains adamant that not only will theaters rebound from coronavirus, but are determined to let things ‘get back to normal’ and consider Universal’s recent move of putting “Trolls World Tour” on Premium VOD as nothing less than a betrayal the studio will pay for in the end.