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Movie theatre chains around the world have announced plans to ban Universal Studios’ movies from their theatres. Universal is known for film franchises such as Jurassic Park and Fast and Furious. In March, Universal started making some of their recent movies available for at-home streaming early due to the coronavirus pandemic. Movies such as “The Invisible Man”, “The Hunt” and “Emma” were all released after only being in cinemas for days or weeks. Customarily, movies are in theatres for around 90 days before studios start to release them for home viewing.

Universal’s next movie to release during the pandemic was “Trolls World Tour” and the studio announced that they would release it simultaneously for home viewing and cinema release. By the time the movie released on April 10, theatres in most countries were closed. In the US, the movie made $60,000 on its opening weekend from only 25 theatres. However, the movie set a record for the most streams on a release weekend. It was a huge success and made over $40 million from streaming during the first weekend. In three weeks, “Trolls World Tour” made the same amount of money from streaming as the original movie did in 5 months of being shown in theatres.

The success of “Trolls World Tour” led the CEO of NBC Universal, Jeff Shell, to announce that Universal would now release all of their future movies on the same day at home and in theatres. Shell’s comments caused anger throughout the movie theatre industry and the two biggest movie theatre owners in the world announced that they would no longer show Universal movies. Theatres have been fighting the expansion of home viewing for movies for years. Theatres have been desperate to maintain their exclusivity window for new releases as Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming options have damaged their business.

As more and more movies are released at home because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it could be that more studios follow Universals lead. Warner Bros has announced that their new Scooby-Doo movie will skip theatres entirely and release only at home. The question is how profitable this model is for studios long-term. It could be that “Trolls World Tour” has only been successful because people have been stuck at home with nothing to do. It’s doubtful that a movie such as the next Avengers could make as much money from home streaming as it would in cinemas. Movie theatres also won’t want to miss out on that blockbuster revenue. The battle between studios and theatres is sure to continue for a long time.

Difficult words

Franchise (n): A business with multiple locations or large film series.

Streaming (n): A method for watching content over the internet.

Customarily (adv): A usual or common practice.

Simultaneously (adv): Happening at the same time.

Industry (n): A specialised field of work.

Expansion (n): The process of making something bigger.

Exclusivity (n): Rights given to only one thing or group.

Profitable (adj): Able to make money.

Blockbuster (n): A film of great size or great commercial success.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: Coming Soon!

Match the Synonym!

1. Franchise A. Usually
2. Streaming B. Work field.
3. Customarily C. Make money.
4. Simultaneously D. Grow
5. Industry E. Film series.
6. Expansion F. Only
7. Exclusivity G. At the same time.
8. Profitable H. Huge film.
9. Blockbuster I. Watching online.

True or False?

1. Movie theatre chains have shown their gratitude to Universal’s recent decision. T / F

2. Universal has released some very popular film franchises in the past. T / F

3. Universal started premiering their films for home viewing before Covid-19. T / F

4. Movie theatres have never had a window of exclusivity with the films they show.  T / F

5.  “Trolls World Tour” released at home and in cinemas at the same time. T / F

6. “Trolls World Tour” made less than $100,000 at movie theatres in its opening weekend. T / F

7. The home streaming sales for “Trolls World Tour” were not very successfulT / F

8. Universal will now release all future films in cinemas and for streaming on the same day. T / F

9. Movie theatres around the world welcome the expansion of home streaming. T / F

10. The film Scooby-Doo will not release in theatres. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. such / for / known / franchises / as / Jurassic Park / film / Universal / is

2. in / movies / theatres / are / around / for / 90 / Customarily, / days

3. next / pandemic / Universal’s / “Trolls World Tour” / release / was / the / to / during / movie

4. its / In / the / weekend / opening / made $60,000 / on / the / US, / movie

5. maintain / desperate / been / their / Theatres / window / exclusivity / have / to

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: Coming Soon!

Streaming Original Viewing
Announced Stuck Damaged
Throughout Entirely Opening

Movie theatre chains around the world have (1)_________________ plans to ban Universal Studios’ movies from their theatres. Universal is known for film franchises such as Jurassic Park and Fast and Furious. In March, Universal started making some of their recent movies available for at-home streaming early due to the coronavirus pandemic. Movies such as “The Invisible Man”, “The Hunt” and “Emma” were all released after only being in cinemas for days or weeks. Customarily, movies are in theatres for around 90 days before studios start to release them for home (2)_____________.

Universal’s next movie to release during the pandemic was “Trolls World Tour” and the studio announced that they would release it simultaneously for home viewing and cinema release. By the time the movie released on April 10, theatres in most countries were closed. In the US, the movie made $60,000 on its (3)____________ weekend from only 25 theatres. However, the movie set a record for the most streams on a release weekend. It was a huge success and made over $40 million from streaming during the first weekend. In three weeks, “Trolls World Tour” made the same amount of money from streaming as the (4)_____________ movie did in 5 months of being shown in theatres.

The success of “Trolls World Tour” led the CEO of NBC Universal, Jeff Shell, to announce that Universal would now release all of their future movies on the same day at home and in theatres. Shell’s comments caused anger (5)_____________ the movie theatre industry and the two biggest movie theatre owners in the world announced that they would no longer show Universal movies. Theatres have been fighting the expansion of home viewing for movies for years. Theatres have been desperate to maintain their exclusivity window for new releases as Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming options have (6)_____________ their business.

As more and more movies are released at home because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it could be that more studios follow Universals lead. Warner Bros has announced that their new Scooby-Doo movie will skip theatres (7)____________ and release only at home. The question is how profitable this model is for studios long-term. It could be that “Trolls World Tour” has been only been successful because people have been (8)__________ at home with nothing to do. It’s doubtful that a movie such as the next Avengers could make as much money from home (9)______________ as it would in cinemas. Movie theatres also won’t want to miss out on that blockbuster revenue. The battle between studios and theatres is sure to continue for a long time.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Have any movie theatre companies in your country banned Universal?
5. Do you think it was right for the movie theatres to ban Universal?
6. Have you bought or rented any new movies recently?
7. Is it smart for movie studios to release their films at home and in cinemas at the same time?
8. Are movies available to watch at home and in cinemas at the same time in your country?
9. Should movie theatres get a window of exclusivity to show new movies?
10. Do you think movies released at home will be just as successful after the coronavirus crisis has ended?
11. Would you prefer to watch new movies at home or at the movie theatre?
12. Will you feel different about going to public places once the coronavirus crisis is resolved?
13. Have movie theatres closed at all during the Covid-19 crisis in your country?
14. Do you think movie theatre companies are right to be angry at Universal?
15. Should governments do anything to protect movie theatres?
16. Do you subscribe to any streaming services?
17. Do you think movie theatres will still exist 20 years from now?
18. Do you think any other businesses will be different after the coronavirus situation?
19. Do you often buy movies or TV shows?
20. What do you do if the film or show you want to watch is not available on a streaming service?