Pandemic bringing more new movies on demand

Multiplexes in Nova Scotia may have reopened their theaters to the public in mid-June, but some in the exhibition and movie industry are seeing some changes from the pandemic era linger.

As of April 2020, popular films like Scoob, Trolls 2 and others have had premium video-on-demand releases, streaming releases, or hybrid models in theaters and at home.

Additionally, HBO Max in the US has seen high-profile films like The small things, In the heights, Mortal combat and more debuts on the streaming app.

The Valley Drive In Theater in the Annapolis Valley has seen a number of titles – both new releases and titles that couldn’t be shown on big screens in Nova Scotia before – go up this summer so far. .

“We are delighted to be back, although the opening was a little more difficult this year than last year,” said Kirk Longmire, president of the drive-in. “Last year we couldn’t open without some approvals. But with the structured and phased reopening this year, it has created some uncertainty.”

“But the crowds are back. We have noticed a change, however. There are a ton of young people; young adults present themselves more than families.

Films including Peter Rabbit 2 and Tom and Jerry did not attract the family audience that Longmire expected, but the adult fare, including A quiet place II, Hitman’s wife bodyguard, The Conjuration 3 and other mature titles work well.

“More family-oriented movies might be a bit older, and some families will happily pay that higher price if they can comfortably watch a new release at home,” Longmire said.

“Parents may not yet be comfortable taking their children into larger crowds. Couples often have their first shots and may seek to go out. Families may not be ready yet.

While many studios have provided content to the Valley Drive In Theater, Longmire said that one studio, in particular, does not deal with drive-ins.

“We have a screen and 18 weekends by the end of the season. The choice of content is essential, ”he said. “In terms of content, Disney’s takeover of FOX was a big blow. Disney is not suitable for drive-through. “

With Marvel, Star wars, Pixar, animated content and more also owned by Disney, Longmire said options may be limited.

This summer alone, Disney is coming out Black Widow, Jungle cruise and Free guy. On top of that, titles like Luca, Cruel and Soul aired on the Disney + streamer on PVOD earlier this year.

“We can’t hold back a movie for two to three weeks when we get a new release. We have a screen and we have to change films every week. But Disney will want their movies to be available for a while, ”he said.

So the drive-in, if it shows Disney content, has to wait a long time after the movie’s buzz has subsided.

Even Universal Pictures’ Fast & Furious 9, which raised $ 70 million this opening weekend at the North American box office, the biggest opening since 2019 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, will be at the drive-in next week.

“Some movie houses are very nice. But with consolidation, things get more difficult, ”said Longmire. “The Brackley Drive-In on PEI. is even considering adding more screens to be able to follow.

The Valley Drive In Theater nonprofit wants to create an affordable, friendly and safe place for people to go, but Longmire isn’t sure the heavy theatrical distribution model will return.

“It might take three or four years to fully see how everything evolves, but I doubt we’re only going back to the movies,” Longmire said.

“I see a hybrid model. The reality is that there are certain films that are intended for theatrical screening and that is feared for. But there are others that people can enjoy the most at home.

Local filmmaker Andrea Dorfman doesn’t necessarily believe the theatrical model is the best for independent filmmakers.

“I never put all my eggs in one basket,” she said. “These changes don’t really affect me. I make a feature film every four or five years.

“I saw the landscape change considerably at that time … with my first film, Parsley days, it went on VHS. With Love this boy, it was a DVD. With Heartbeat, there had been a theatrical presence and there was iTunes. Now things go straight to VOD and skip theaters. “

She also works in animation and says it lends itself well to the internet. She believes filmmakers should always evolve.

“I tell young people who think about cinema to acquire as many skills as possible in the medium,” she said. “You can’t get married with a certain type of career.”

“I always take a story and consider the best ship for it. Is it a book, a feature film, an animation, a documentary or something else?

His latest film, Old girl, released in August 2020. The film, starring Chelsea Peretti from Brooklyn nine-nine glory, was released directly on VOD.

“Really, small independent films in Canada don’t do well in theaters,” Dorfman said. “We can’t go against the next Marvel movie or any other franchise film. It probably had a much better audience that way than in a movie theater.”

With PVOD comes convenience and accessibility as film festivals, including FIN last year, go virtual. Even this year’s iteration of Halifax’s flagship festival will be hybrid.

“People even watch movies on their phones,” she said. “Most of the kids I know watch YouTube all day. One thing I experienced and loved is that these festivals allow anyone to watch these movies.

“I had a film at an animation festival in France. Of course, I would have loved to go eat amazing pastries and meet filmmakers from all over the place, but I was also able to watch at home with no travel, no disturbance, and no impact on the environment. Making these films accessible is amazing.

The Valley Drive In Theater has an upcoming roster that includes family favorites like The Boss Baby: family business, Cruel, Raya and the last dragon, and Space Jam: a new legacy. Longmire hopes to recover the families.

“I want to see them come back. I hope that will happen later in the summer, ”he said. “We have good crowds, but this year is different without the family sizes we normally draw.”

He believes that no matter what, there will always be an audience for the drive-in.

“There is a niche market and an opportunity for it. People sometimes pay entry and don’t even know what’s going on, ”he said. “We just want to be a great place for the community to come. “

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About Monty S. Maynard

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