While the companies Cinépolis, Cinemark and Cinemex have faced difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is projected that there will be stiff competition in the streaming market in the coming years, according to a report released by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Looking to the near future, growing internet access, combined with local demand that does not succumb despite economic swings, and the arrival of Disney +, Paramount + and AppleTV +, suggest that companies will seek to grow -or retain- subscribers to all coast.
Until shortly before the 2020 pandemic, and despite the boom in streaming services, movie theaters continued to play an indisputable role both in distribution and in the traditional scheme for financing films, which are recovering a large part of their investment through a first distribution in movie theaters.
Before the pandemic, the number of attendees increased annually in countries such as Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
By the end of 2020, cinemas had lost almost all their viewers, due to influx restrictions, and major multinational chains operating in the region such as Cinépolis, Cinemark and Cinemex were facing economic difficulties and uncertainty.
Data for Colombia shows a decline from 73.1 million attendees in 2019 to 12.6 million in 2020.
According to the same report, in the face of this reality, which was repeated around the world, the WarnerMedia conglomerate did something that in the near past would have been unthinkable: release a blockbuster on a streaming service (HBO Max) rather than on film.
The same happened with a good part of the Argentine film production of 2020, which premiered on the CINE.AR channel and the cine.ar play app without first going through the country’s movie theaters, which were closed for a good part of 2020.
For this, a resolution was necessary to modify the regulations of the National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) so that producers received the subsidy for the exhibition in movie theaters despite the digital premiere (Resolution 166/2020), which it was replicated in more countries in the region.
The report adds that it is not clear yet if this trend is irreversible, but some experts consulted indicated that the distribution window – the time between the premiere in theaters and the moment when the film sees the light in streaming – is likely to shorten even in the post-pandemic world
The report is entitled Behind the Scenes: Creativity and Investment for Latin America and the Caribbean.