The Economics of Film: Changing Dynamics and the COVID-19 World

Corporate Finance & Restructuring | Telecom, Media & Technology (TMT)

September 3, 2020

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In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the feature film industry at every level, bringing content production to a standstill and cancelling cinema premieres. Worldwide, cinemas were shuttered and in turn, film goers forced to stay at home, eyeing old and new televisual content to fill the entertainment void.

In the intervening time, the major studios, led by Universal, began to explore ways of reaching their audiences through direct and digital alternatives. Without out-of-home entertainment (except drive-in cinemas), the shuttered cinemas closed off a significant distribution and income avenue for the studios. Moreover, the major studios with their newly created digital streaming platforms – Peacock, Disney+ and Warner’s HBO Max – were poised and equipped to offer an alternative. And, they did.

This article considers three critical areas for the film industry, for discussion: (1) the current economics of film production and the significance of cinema theatre contribution within the film supply chain; (2) historical worldwide box office returns generated through the cinema distribution window and how that compares to the potential income from premium video-on-demand (“PVoD”) platforms; and (3) the level of marketing spend underpinning theatrical releases and the impact under a direct-to-consumer model.

Leveraging both our service and industry experts, our TMT team is made up of strategy, regulations, communications, operations and finance experts, who work closely with clients ranging from start-ups to established multi-nationals, to anticipate and prosper in the midst of technological and market disruption, and in every stage of a company’s life cycle. As companies face the increasingly complex dynamics of digitisation, new forms of technology and fierce competition, FTI Consulting is ideally placed to support you.


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