The movie theater experience is "going to change" because of coronavirus but is not "going away," says Blumhouse founder and producer Jason Blum after Universal Pictures sent The Invisible Man and The Hunt to premium video on demand following abbreviated theatrical runs. As Universal engages in a spat with exhibitors over its unilateral decision to release its animated Trolls World Tour to PVOD — winning the biggest opening weekend for a digital title but igniting a feud with AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment parent company Cineworld, who agreed not to screen Universal films if the theatrical window is disrespected — Blum expects theatergoing to be permanently changed by the coronavirus pandemic:
"To me, watching a movie on TV or a show on TV or streaming is the equivalent to a Zoom call, whereas seeing a movie in a theater is the equivalent of a live meeting," Blum told the Los Angeles Times, who surveyed industry talent about a post-pandemic Hollywood. "As much as theaters are clearly suffering now, I think the choice that people have in theaters may change, the amount of time that movies stay in theaters may change, but I don't think theatergoing is going away."
"It's going to change," Blum said, "but I don't think it's going away."
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Universal earned a combined $60 million in rental fees after releasing The Invisible Man, The Hunt, Emma and Never Rarely Sometimes Always through the at-home cinema model after movie theaters across the globe were temporarily shuttered. That same report says $48 million of those rental fees went directly to Universal.
Asked how moviegoing habits might change, filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood told the Los Angeles Times, "I love going to the movies, and I make movies for an audience. I want theaters to thrive again. I think seating will have to change. Sitting every other seat, or pulling seats out to have fewer in the theater. And maybe theaters can have the technology that can read the temperatures of patrons as they enter."
"But it is also obvious that streaming will absolutely dominate," Prince-Bythewood added. "Staying at home will always be the safest option."
Jason Blum, our current-day master of the horror genre, produces The Invisible Man for his Blumhouse Productions. The Invisible Man is directed and executive produced by Leigh Whannell, from his screenplay and screen story. Whannell is one of the original conceivers of the Saw franchise who most recently directed Upgrade and Insidious: Chapter 3.
The Invisible Man and The Hunt are currently available to rent on digital platforms priced at $19.99 each.