Sony Remains Committed To Theaters, But Open To VOD Releases

Hollywood is hoping against hope that movie theaters will be back up and running this summer. But what if they're not? Most major studios are trying to save face with theater owners by stating their commitment to the theatrical experience. But if the theatrical experience as we know it is endangered, what are studios left with? Digital VOD releases, of course. And Sony Pictures knows that.

We all want movie theaters to survive the current pandemic, but it's not going to be easy. And while Hollywood hopes to revive things in July with big releases like Tenet and Mulan, there's no guarantee. Some studios, like Universal and Disney, have taken this in stride, debuting movies that were originally set for theaters on VOD instead. But this move – at least in Universal's case – angered the movie theater industry, who see skipping theaters as a betrayal. After the outrage lead to AMC Theatres declaring they would no longer show Universal movies, other studios were quick to announce their support for theatrical release.

But the folks at Sony are also smart enough to realize that the movie theatre industry isn't going to have the easiest time opening up again. On an earnings call the other day (via Deadline), Sony confirmed they remain in the business of releasing movies on the big screen – but if that option no longer presents itself, they're open to VOD, too:

"Theatrical release is always very important and because of the coronavirus impact, once the situation settles and we restart theatrical operations people may not come to theaters to view pictures so it may take some time. If that happens, we have to discuss new ways of releasing pictures and also we can use online and more technologies for live performances going forward."

This seems to be the right approach. Sure, big screen releases are ideal – but if the option is between VOD and no release at all, studios are going to have to start taking a long, hard look at how they want to play this. And, like it or not, digital releases might end up being the best solution.