The Movie business is changing! Some might say this was an inevitable result of the pandemic, but it seems the streaming wars are actually a far bigger catalyst. We are now in a period of time where giant corporations are vacuuming up smaller studios. This is not a new practice but instead of the usual scenario, we are talking deals in the billions of Dollars. Disney started out buying IP’s to begin with. First it was Marvel, and Star Wars, but even then buying Marvel didn’t give them full access to the characters. Then the deal for Fox came out and really started tis ball rolling. Disney bought another massive studio and with it all their IP’s and back catalogue. With one almighty check, Disney were able to literally double the size of their streaming options and create adult content from a service initially only Pg-13.
Then we had AT&T who initially tried to muscle in on that Fox deal, launching their own rival service HBO Max. However, it seems even a giant such as AT&T were struggling financially to make the most of this new service. If your streaming service cannot break into the top 3, you’ll struggle. Cue the merger between AT&T and Discovery which will see both merge into one bigger streaming service. HBO Max needs to be that essential streaming purchase beside Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+. But this means the likes of Netflix and Amazon begin to panic, and they need to make sure they themselves stay relevant.
Netflix’s strategy has been to pump money into original projects. So far that has kept Netflix as an essential purchase, however all is not rosy. I personally feel like Netflix are throwing so much money out there that their hit rate isn’t amazing. There really is a lot of dross made for streaming, and whilst it looks prettier, it’s still bad network TV level writing. Amazon equally, and perhaps even more so had tread this same path. However Amazon have also invested heavily in some massive IP’s. The Wheel of Time and The Lord of the Rings should allow them to sew up the fantasy market. Sure, Netflix are pushing into Fantasy as well, but they don’t have the any of the three big hitters in the genre. The third not mentioned is of course controlled by HBO, who are spinning-off Game of Thrones in a number of directions. Netflix does have The Witcher and Conan IP’s but neither are quite on the level of the Fantasy big three for now.
However, Amazon are now in talks to purchase MGM for a kick in the butt off $9 billion. You can see the strategy, more IP’s to bring back, and more back catalogues. This is essentially similar to what Disney did with Fox and in the last year Disney+ is getting new subscribers faster than any other service.
As we saw in a story I covered to today, Sony Pictures have announced they are not for sale. The bigger companies are likely hovering around like sharks just now smelling blood. Any studio that doesn’t have access to their own streaming service has to work with one of these big four streamers. Right now though, HBO Max is U.S Based only, so I assume that will change once Discovery get involved. Sony have gotten around this buy making deals with both Netflix and Disney. Depending on the genre and the window’s Sony projects could appear on both services, though they have ensured Spider-Man will be with his friends on Disney+ long term.
The Final Word
However, how long is that viable for. Really, all you are doing is giving Disney and Netflix, two competitors more money from your own work. You’ll get a fee for sure, but they get subscribers long term and that’s where the money is. You have to wonder who is next? Paramount have started Paramount + and I feel like it’s doomed to fail before it even starts. Would Paramount not be better served doing as Sony have? Make a deal with one of the big four and release your content on their services for a fee? Or, is the better option for Paramount to simply sell up entirely to one of the big hitters and that is that? Could Paramount get aggressive themselves and start to pick up studios smaller than they are to try and compete in the market? That seems the riskiest option considering Paramount’s IP’s don’t quite match up to some of the other studios in this game currently.
Where do we end up in 20 years from now. Will there just be four studios, though each with a variety of sub studios working under one umbrella? Will one of the top three (I’d guess Netflix) end up running out of cash and having to sell up? You don’t feel like it would be Amazon, and it certainly won’t be Disney. Will Discovery and HBO Max fail to get attention? Or will they begin picking up other studios to rival the big three?
Either way, the movie business is changing and we can only guess how that will evolve in the coming years. As a fan of movies, TV, drama, and the entire GenreVerse, my only hope is that quality improves. Don’t get me wrong there is so much to be excited about in this age, but that can very easily slide away into mediocrity. Especially if all the power lies with three or four mega corporations. As said, the movie business is changing, maybe we don’t yet understand how much?
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