Maybe we will never see a movie in a theatre again. Or maybe it will be a once-per-year thing.
The US box office estimates for April 2020 are $45,000. In April 2019, movies made about $1 billion in revenue, so that's about 99.995% less. (source)
Universal Pictures released Trolls World Tour direct to “rent from home” and made $100 Million in 3 weeks. (source) In some ways, a kids movie is PERFECT for watching at home. Parents don't have to stress too much about their three little bundles of energy disturbing other people. And the kids can run around while the movie plays. They're not forced to sit in a crowded theatre seat and told to “shhh”.
AMC Theatres retaliated by vowing never to show a Universal Pictures movie in any of its 1000 theatres. And extended the threat to any other studio thinking about offering movies breaking the 90-day exclusivity window. (source) A declaration of war!
Also, related, AMC narrowly avoided bankruptcy by borrowing $500 million, giving it enough money till the fall. (source)
The movie release schedule for spring and summer 2020 is pretty much empty. Normally, around 80 movies are released per month. We're down to around 10 per month. When the COVID restrictions lift, there's nothing new to see.
The OSCARS® will allow movies that did not ever play in theatres to qualify for awards this year. One year only, but it's a precedent. The “Best Picture” could perhaps be a movie that never played in a single movie theatre…
I think the movie theatre model has finally broken.
The public will be slow to crowd in a theatre again, and might not even be allowed to in many places as lockdown restrictions are lifted slowly. Movie companies will be excited by having a direct relationship with the home viewing customer. Home customers will get to use their big-screen TVs and home theatre systems again. Save the traffic, and expensive snacks. It's a win-win.
And the movie theatre loses.
Is COVID-19 going to be the last nail in the “movie theatre” business except for niche uses like Star Wars blockbusters?