So what about the Fox-Disney merger? It’s a prime question in these CinemaCon times that wasn’t broached during Disney’s presentation yesterday. Today during a CinemaCon panel, 20th Century Fox CEO and chairman Stacey Snider and Avatar producer Jon Landau could only say so much, but here’s what the former let on as to why consolidation is occurring in the film industry:
“As a 30-year lifelong studio executive, I can see the pressure that the studios have to not only create size and heft in the marketplace, but to also look at the cost of making theses global films and the cost of acquiring an over-the-top customer,” Snider said.
“When you account for revenues over windows, it’s not a surprise when you start to see that home entertainment levels out and TV distribution becomes a risk-benefit trade-off. Do we sell TV distribution rights?” she asked. “When you face window revenues tapering off, you have to create an on-demand opportunity; the cost of a movie, the cost of acquiring a new subscriber — you can see it when you do a P&L and you cross your fingers that the revenues will take care.”
Snider mentioned that a pic’s digital rights used to be included in a studio’s TV rights deal. Now the attitude is to monetize those streams and create opportunities for a business to build a customer base.
What will Disney do with those Fox assets? Again, mum from Snider and Landau, though the latter mentioned that the Burbank, CA studio doesn’t make films like Deadpool or Avatar or Fox Searchlight titles and therefore big Fox product fills a need.
What’s the Disney-Fox timeline like now?
Said Snider: “We all live with uncertainty of a business and that is an experience that changes; just buckle up and be professional and play our game. Honestly I don’t know what the timeline is; there was new news this morning for other bids for other assets. We’ve been through the transformations in our business and the doomsdayers. Just buckle up and take the ride.”
When Netflix was brought up by the panel’s moderator, Indiewire editor Anne Thompson, the panelists didn’t flinch. Snider said Fox made a conscientious decision to not acquire movies at festivals and compete with the deep pockets of streaming services and has opted to make movies in-house, i.e., Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Isle of Dogs and The Shape of Water.
Snider reminded that Netflix’s subscription model rose during the recession and the streaming service responded to the will of the people for a buffet-like approach to content at one price, rather than a per-title price point.
Still, Landau, Snider and Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi agreed today that Netflix doesn’t duplicate the same experience as going to the theater.
“If a tree falls in the woods do you hear it?” said Snider regarding the resonance of a movie being distributed on the streaming platform.
“You can’t replace five weeks of word of mouth that you get in the theater,” agreed Thompson.
Said Landau regarding Netflix, “You can’t duplicate the tears or the laughter of going to the movies.”