Hollywood is pivoting to home entertainment

小屏幕上的大赌注 Big bets on the small screen-书迷号 shumihao.com

IF ANY INDUSTRY could use help from Wonder Woman, it is cinemas. Lockdowns and a dearth of new releases have reduced worldwide box-office takings by about 70% in 2020. Thankfully for theatre owners, the corseted crusader charged to the rescue on Christmas Day, giving audiences a reason to go back to the movies.

Yet in a plot twist, AT&T, the telecoms giant that owns the film’s producer, Warner Bros, has announced that “Wonder Woman 1984” and the 17 feature films on Warner’s release slate for 2021 will be made available on its HBO Max streaming service on the day they are released in cinemas, which historically have had an exclusive run of a few months. Purists are aghast. “The future of cinema will be on the big screen, no matter what any Wall Street dilettante says,” declared Denis Villeneuve, whose sci-fi epic, “Dune”, is among the affected films.
不过情节突转,该片的制作方华纳兄弟的母公司电信巨头AT&T宣布,《神奇女侠1984》和2021年华纳预备发行的17部剧情片将在它旗下的HBO Max流媒体平台上与院线同步上映。在这以前,院线一般都有头几个月的独播权。正统派对此感到震惊。“不管华尔街那帮半吊子怎么说,电影的未来还是在大屏幕。”丹尼斯·维伦纽夫(Denis Villeneuve)说,他的科幻大片《沙丘》(Dune)是受影响的影片之一。

Warner is not the only studio shifting its focus to the small screen. In July Universal Pictures, part of Comcast, a cable company, did a deal with AMC, the world’s largest cinema chain, to give theatres just 17 days before its films are made available online (AMC will get a cut of streaming revenues). Paramount Pictures, owned by ViacomCBS, has sold several films to Netflix this year rather than release them to empty auditoriums. And on December 10th Disney, Hollywood’s biggest studio, signalled that it, too, sees its future in streaming.

In a presentation to investors the studio announced a blitz of new content for its Disney+ streaming service: ten “Star Wars” series, ten more based on Marvel comic books, 15 other new original series and 15 feature films. By 2024 Disney+ will be spending $8bn-9bn annually on content, up from $2bn in 2020. Add ESPN+, which shows sports, and Hulu, another Disney streaming channel, and the company will splurge $14bn-16bn a year, nearly as much as the $17bn that Netflix, which pioneered streaming, earmarked to spend in 2020.

Disney’s “content tsunami” is “frightening to any sub-scale company thinking about competing in the scripted entertainment space”, wrote Michael Nathanson of MoffattNathanson, a media-research firm. The Wall Street dilettantes swooned: Disney’s share price leapt by almost 14% the day after its presentation, reaching an all-time high and adding $38bn to its stockmarket value (see chart).
迪士尼的“内容海啸”可是“吓到了任何想在剧作类节目领域拼一把的小规模公司”,媒体研究公司MoffattNathanson的迈克尔·内桑森(Michael Nathanson)写道。华尔街的半吊子们都乐晕了:迪士尼的股价在计划公布后的第二天跃升近14%,达到了历史新高,市值增加了380亿美元(见图表)。

Disney now expects 230m-260m Disney+ subscribers by 2024—more than treble its previous target. The extra viewers, and a planned price rise, put the service on track to break even in 2024, despite more content spending. Across all its streaming channels Disney expects more than 300m subscribers by 2024—maybe enough to overtake Netflix, currently on 195m. Disney will take Netflix on more directly via a new service, Star, with a wider range of programming, including a new show starring the indefatigable Kardashian clan.

Two months ago Disney began a corporate restructuring to increase its focus on streaming. Since then it has trimmed jobs at ABC News and announced the winding up of its radio business. The plans for Disney+ imply that by 2024 streaming will be the company’s single largest business by revenues, notes Benjamin Swinburne of Morgan Stanley, a bank. Whatever some directors may think, “made for TV” is no longer a slur in Hollywood. ■
两个月前迪士尼开始重组,把重心进一步转向流媒体。自那以后,它在美国广播公司新闻台(ABC News)裁员,并宣布关闭其广播业务。摩根士丹利的本杰明·斯温伯恩(Benjamin Swinburne)指出,Disney+的计划意味着到2024年,按收入计算,流媒体将成为迪斯尼最大的单一业务。无论一些导演怎么想,“电视电影”在好莱坞已不再是上不了台面的事物了。