Here’s what I posted on CePro.com on May 12, after news broke regarding a subject for which I have both a personal and professional interest:
“There may not be any sports going on, but the announcement of the accelerated release of “Hamilton” on July 3 exclusively on Disney+ is like a Super Bowl for the movie industry. And we know from talking to integrators how big that event is for showcasing the latest video technologies.
“Integrators have been given a long lead time — basically a month-plus to focus on home theater and home network upgrades before the streaming service blows all the viewing numbers away …
And you’re ‘not throwing away your shot! Because you’re young, scrappy and hungry …’ yada, yada, if you’ve been fortunate to see the musical you know how the song goes.“
Pardon my borrowing lines there from “My Shot,” the early showstopping number in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster musical, but … how’d you do?
CE Pro editors talked to several integrators this spring who mentioned that business continued to carry on and even experience an uptick in home theater and home networking in particular, even as the coronavirus pandemic persisted.
While many integrators also naturally took a hit with projects put on hold or cancelled as lockdown measures took effect, others shared stories and photos on social media of in-progress projects.
“Hamilton” is one of several considerations fueling what is turning into quite the perfect storm for home theater sales.
Consider the impact of the pandemic and quarantine, and how much more time people are spending at home. They are seeking out entertainment options, and streaming services are flourishing as more people binge on movies and TV shows without live sports alternatives to watch. And when/if sports do come back in full swing this summer and fall, your sports-thirsty customers will be happy they upgraded their media room already.
Consider one “new normal” coming out of the COVID-19 crisis might be the permanent coexistence of “day-and-date” movie releases in commercial and home cinemas, for potential home theater customers of all budgets. The Los Angeles Times reported on April 13 that Universal Pictures’ “Trolls World Tour” had a record-setting digital debut as a $20 rental across the popular online platforms — no special hardware or software required, only a credit card for very reasonable ROI on spending the night in for dinner and a movie.
There’s always plenty of grumbling about the cineplex experience, and since it became a major casualty of the coronavirus (though hopefully we’ll see more drive-ins renovated) there’s no telling what a “new normal” will be like for going out to the movies or when that will happen. Studios have to make money somehow, and they found out a whole lot of people will pay $20 to see “Trolls World Tour” at home.
Consider that instead of saving up for and spending a chunk on family vacations, cruises, kids summer camps, etc., people who have the means are putting this “found” money into other big-ticket items. Where I live, stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot have stayed nonstop busy since the lockdown, and neighborhood homes are getting new rooves, siding, windows, extensive landscaping and other improvements. As I type this at press time, we’re back to record-setting COVID-19 cases on a daily basis, and those new 4K Dolby Atmos theaters are going to get plenty of usage.
Disney, another company severely impacted by the coronavirus (the lack of live sports certainly isn’t helping the ESPN/ABC parent), is also betting on “Hamilton” to boost business. The company’s Disney+ service fights for the same subscribers as all the others, and its content, while some of the most beloved and suitable for repeat viewing, is limited.
A couple of weeks before “Hamilton” was released, Disney halted its free seven-day trials of Disney+, undoubtedly banking a surge of subscribers to its $6.99/month ($69.99/year) service, whether they watch the movie once and cancel or hang around for “The Mandalorian” (also worth it) and more. Heck, “Hamilton” was originally planned for a theatrical release in October — 2021. Disney knows people like me spent hours in line to get tickets when it came to my local performing arts center, and that now with lights indefinitely out on Broadway home theater is taking center stage.