Lucas and Spielberg Predicted the Rise of Streaming Theatrical Releases Seven Years Ago
As early as 2013, directors George Lucas and Steven Spielberg predicted that big studios such as Warner Bros. would begin streaming theatrical releases in the future. And the future is now. This Christmas, Wonder Woman 1984 will be the first of Warner Bros. upcoming slate of films to be released on HBO Max the same day it’s released in theaters. Movie theater chains are not happy about WarnerMedia’s decision to shift their blockbusters’ releases over to the small screen, but it now seems as if the transition was in the cards at some point.
Seven years ago, Lucas and Spielberg spoke at a panel hosted by the University of Southern California, covering a variety of topics surrounding the entertainment industry. Both shared the belief that the rise of Netflix and other streaming giants would cause movie studios to either adapt or “implode.”
In the past, studios would spend tens of millions on a blockbuster in hopes the movie would turn a profit upon release. But Spielberg predicted an event which he described as “an implosion where three or four or maybe even half a dozen of these mega-budgeted movies” would find themselves “crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm.”
Lucas chimed in with the idea that the popularity of streaming would lead to more niche content, which is "more interesting than what you’re going to see in the movie theater." Spielberg added that the influx of quality content on streaming platforms would make moviegoing more of a luxury, and people would have to pay more to see big-ticket titles. "Eventually, there’s going to be a price variance. You’re going to have to pay $25 to see the next Iron Man," Spielberg stated. "And you’re probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln.”
While Lucas and Spielberg couldn’t have foreseen the reality created by COVID-19, it’s interesting just how accurately they were able to predict streaming services’ increased role in media consumption. WarnerMedia’s decision may have been in response to the mandatory closure of movie theaters worldwide, but they might have arrived at a similar arrangement even without a pandemic.
Gallery — Sci-Fi Movies That Predicted The Future: