Cinemas v. streaming: Drawing the battle lines

Credit: Reuters - Business (Amazon FireT
Published on April 10, 2019 - Duration: 02:22s

Cinemas v. streaming: Drawing the battle lines

While superheroes and aliens battle onscreen, a real-life off-screen battle is raging that will determine what moviegoers see at their local cinemas.

Lisa Bernhard reports.

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Cinemas v. streaming: Drawing the battle lines

While superheroes and aliens battle on the big screen, a behind-the-scenes fight is raging in Hollywood that will determine what you see at the theater.

At issue: how long movies should play exclusively in theaters before being released on DVD or digital.

That period of time, known as the theatrical 'window', currently averages 90 days - but Netflix and Amazon think it should be less.

And theater owners - fearing a loss of business - are fighting back.

SOUNDBITE: REUTERS ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT, LISA RICHWINE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "At the heart of this is, 'How do you define a movie?''" That's Reuters reporter Lisa Richwine, who notes that the whole debate has opened a can of worms when it comes to Hollywood films. SOUNDBITE: REUTERS ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT, LISA RICHWINE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There have to be some rules.

There are so many high-quality programs on streaming services, on cable and in movie theaters.

And somebody needs to come up with a definition, at least for the Oscars, to determine, What do you call a movie that gets Oscars?

And then, What do you call a TV show that gets Emmys?" Director Steven Spielberg has taken a traditional approach, telling a British news program last year that films viewed mostly on streaming services should win Emmys, not Oscars.

That would have disqualified Netflix's acclaimed film "Roma" - which won three Academy Awards and streamed just 3 weeks after its limited theatrical release.

A big test will be later this with the release of a film called "The Irishman" - directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro.

The mob drama is the kind of "event film" audiences have relished seeing in theaters.

But it's produced by Netflix.

DeNiro telling Reuters even he's conflicted about where it should play.

SOUNDBITE: ACTOR, ROBERT DE NIRO (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They do what they do - they stream.

But at the same time we're going to have theatrical, and we're working it out so we can have as much theatrical as possible.

Yet they're understanding that - they're not gonna cut their nose to spite their face." Another plot twist comes this week when the Walt Disney Company - a titan of the box office - unveils details of its new streaming service.

How the debate gets resolved is unclear, but there may be a happy ending for all: ticket sales in 2018 reached a record $41 billion globally - even as Netflix released 90 movies for streaming.

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