Sony doesn’t have much choice in the matter. Unlike WarnerMedia or Disney, it doesn’t have a streaming service of its own to support. It has to either sell movies to third-party services like Apple TV+ or offer titles for rent earlier than expected. Vinciquerra has argued for greater flexibility on the length of time a movie stays in theaters, though, contending that a poor performer should have the option of leaving theaters sooner while blockbusters stay longer.
The uptick in business may be as much of a gamble as WarnerMedia’s HBO Max strategy, though. Movie theater reopenings will depend heavily on the success of mass vaccinations, not to mention regaining the confidence of viewers unwilling to risk their health just to see a movie. If many theaters are still closed or faring poorly when summer movies like Uncharted arrive, Sony may have to scramble to offer digital alternatives where WarnerMedia already has them in place.
It’s been a tough year for movies & theaters with @SonyPictures delaying nearly all of its big releases until 2021.
— Squawk Alley (@SquawkAlley) December 22, 2020