No Time To Die sends audiences back to the cinemas, but has COVID changed our behavior for the better?

The new James Bond movie, No Time To Die, is a big deal in many ways.

It’s the last trip for Daniel Craig as Bond. It has been ready for release for 18 months, but repeatedly delayed by the pandemic.

You can add to the list: it’s a boon for cinemas everywhere.

“It’s a symbol that we’re coming to a new stage,” said Zak Hepburn, film critic and general manager of the Astor Theater in Melbourne.

“I think that’s what people want, and that’s what gets people back in the cinema.”

Daniel Craig holds a machine gun
No Time To Die is Daniel Craig’s last time as James Bond.(

IMDB

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No Time To Die is coming out, just as cinemas are ramping up in NSW and Victoria.

NSW will open cinemas with reduced capacity from Monday, while Victoria will follow in early November. The film will be released in Australia on November 11.

“Interest is sky high,” Palace Cinemas CEO Benjamin Zeccola said of the film.

But the film is more than just a chance to get pimples on seats.

It will also be an important data point in a long-running argument about the future of the cinema experience.

Is cinema culture in trouble?

When cinemas closed, large film studios began looking for alternative means of distribution.

Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. all sent movies for streaming in 2021 at the same time as cinemas, something they had not done before.

The fear was that the lucrative exclusivity window, where cinemas get a chance to show a film before it becomes available on a streaming service, could be cut down or dried up completely.

At the same time, Australians became more in love with streaming services.

Video streaming subscriptions rose 16 percent in the year to June, according to research firm Telsyte.

Households with a video streaming service now have an average of 3.1 different, compared to 2.8 in June last year, Telsyte found.

A separate survey by Deloitte showed that 70 percent of households have a TV / movie subscription service, and 42 percent have more subscriptions now than a year ago.

Meanwhile, with high costs and thin margins, cinemas have struggled through repeated shutdowns.

For Palace Cinemas, Melbourne and Sydney make up three quarters of their business.

Since JobKeeper left, they have burned through some cash reserves and relied on goodwill from their bank.

“So everyone so close,” Zeccola said of the impact of streaming.

“What would that mean for the future of film distribution?”

The answer is complicated

“By quickly tracking directly to streaming, you are simply missing out on giving people the best movie experience … and you are missing out on multiple revenue windows,” Zeccola said.

“Very soon after these experiments took place, there seemed to be agreement around Hollywood that the window would be about 45 days,” – down from 90, but still intact.

Even then, he said streaming service subscribers might still have to pay for the movie, as they did with Mulan at Disney +.

In the short term, things look good in cinemas.

In the UK, they could be back at 85 per cent of pre-COVID levels by the end of the year and be fully recovered by mid-2022, according to their industry association.

In part, it’s the thrill of getting off the couch and experiencing something that has been out of reach for so long — not to mention something communal.

Cinemas will also benefit from a backlog of other blockbusters that have been delayed, such as Dune and The Matrix 4 coming later this year.

The long-term behavioral changes are still an open question

“I think it’s going to be very title-oriented,” Hepburn says of how streaming can change things.

Blockbusters like No Time To Die and Dune are made for the cinema.

“That’s what people want to spend their ticket money on: things that are going to remind them of the power of the shared viewing experience,” he says.

Dan Robins, director of PwC’s telecommunications, media and technology practices, has analyzed the industry and expects a strong initial return from the audience.

He says that directly to streaming features in 2021 was an opportunity — created through necessity — for the studios to test an idea.

In the dishwasher, “each will come up with a different strategy and find a balance between their own platform and theatrical releases that will work for them,” he says.

“But what we’ll probably have to contend with is that consumer habits are changing to an extent.”

Sir. Robins sees that the change is not taking place with big-budget action movies like Bond, but with titles that do not get an obvious boost from the big-screen experience.

“If I can get [a film] on a subscription service, combined with a good delivery service for my dinner, then the old thing of eating dinner and a movie – there’s just another option for me to do it at home, ”he said.

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