It’s 2021: Can summer blockbusters survive streaming?
Godzilla Vs. Kong released this week in theaters and on HBO Max. I wasn’t a big fan of the previous film, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” But I thought that “Kong: Skull Island” was fantastic. This film is more like Skull Island, making it a much more enjoyable experience. Still, everything is pointing me to one question: Can summer blockbusters survive streaming?
Some background on the current Kong/Godzilla Franchise
One of the biggest critiques of these monster films is that the human characters get way more screen time than they should without the proper character development that would make them interesting enough for us to even care about them.
Skull Island was able to avoid that problem with better writing for these characters along with a stellar cast including Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, and Samuel L. Jackson. And the current summer blockbuster streaming on HBO Max, Godzilla Vs. Kong, has some great actors as well.
Brian Tyree Henry’s character is the standout. But it largely ignores the people and gives us exactly what we want. And that’s two titans fighting on the big screen.
The theater vs. your couch. How can summer blockbusters survive streaming?
I enjoyed every minute of these action scenes. Each fight was its own setpiece taking advantage of the different locales and bending them to work in favor of the fighting styles of each monster.
It’s truly a visual spectacle especially the quality of CGI work on display here in rendering these creatures to look as real as they could be. But one thing kept lingering in my mind. This film would be best experienced in a proper theatre.
Of course, you can go to a movie theater and see this. The film made over $80 Million in the Chinese box office and topped off at $9.6 million on its opening day in the West, making it the most successful film so far in the pandemic era. So people are going to stream these summer blockbusters and see films again. But still not at the capacity they once were.
What would this film have looked like if not for the pandemic?
This would have easily been a $200 million dollar opening-weekend film if circumstances were different because of its blockbuster nature.
Even watching this in a theatre now wouldn’t compare. This is the type of event-film that warrants a packed screening where the crowd is as much a part of the experience as the film itself. Most studios acknowledge this. But because of the current situation, risks are being taken to show these films at home.
Take the Marvel Cinematic Universe for example. Most of us have become accustomed to seeing the Marvel logo run across our television screens due to WandaVision and now Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
That logo alone was once solely associated with a theatre experience and Marvel knows this. That’s why the announcement of Black Widdow being released in theatres and Disney Plus on the same day this summer took as long as it did.
It will be interesting to see how that film will perform. The reason WandaVision worked so well and had the numbers that it did for Disney Plus is because of the weird and extraordinary nature of the show. It’s essentially made for TV.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier is more of a run-of-the-mill Marvel property that’s based solely on action spectacle with drama infused much like the Captain America trilogy. Black Widow is going to be much more like that than WandaVision so will audiences watch or even enjoy it for the first time at home?
Summer blockbusters need to prove they can survive streaming and return people to theaters
And there are many more franchises like this that have to face that same question and are choosing to play the fence by opening in theatres and on streaming. Godzilla Vs. Kong seems to be a sign so far that people are willing to venture out and see films again.
The film distribution process has always been a gamble but the last year and a half has increased the chances of failure for studios. So these next few months are going to be pivotal for what the future of the theatre experience will be.
Streaming has more or less solidified itself as a major player in how we view entertainment but it seems that the movie theatre isn’t dead just yet.
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