Disney Pixar’s Soul has become the latest movie release to skip theaters and head to straight to streaming. The movie was originally scheduled for cinema release in June 2020, before being pushed back to November due to the pandemic. In October it was announced that it would skip movie theaters altogether and be exclusively released on Disney+ at Christmas. This is a further blow to the box office, which has seen a raft of movies postponed or head straight to streaming platforms.
In October 2020, Cineworld announced that it would be closing all of its UK and US cinemas as the box office has ground to a halt. The final decision to close came on the back of the new James Bond film’s postponement from November 2020 to April 2021. This was the second time that the movie’s release date had been pushed back. A lack of scheduled releases and the growing trend of production firms using streaming services to release new movies have made it incredibly difficult for cinema chains to remain open. While the Cineworld closures are set to be temporary, the UK and US makes up around 90% of the company’s revenue. As such, with the effects of the pandemic currently seeing no end, the future of the company and many other cinema chains remain uncertain.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the box office had already been seeing a decline with people increasingly moving away from consuming movies in cinemas. With regional and national lockdowns currently being implemented in various countries amid the second wave of coronavirus, there is no end in sight at present. The postponement of movies is likely to continue and the trend of releasing straight to streaming is something that we will see more of. For an industry that was already facing difficulties, the boom that it once saw is unlikely to ever return. While it is improbable that movie theaters will completely disappear, it is entirely possible that they will diminish into a niche market in the coming months and years.