Sony executives have shared their criticisms on day-and-date releases during this week’s CinemaCon, which returned as an in-person event in Las Vegas this year. During their spot as the convention’s first presenters on Monday night, the studio’s leaders denounced the hybrid theatrical and digital distribution as devastating to the film industry, Deadline is reporting.
During the company’s presentation at Caesar’s Palace Colosseum, Sony’s President of the Motion Picture Group, Josh Greenstein, took reiterated the Culver City lot’s “commitment to protecting and preserving the exclusive theatrical window.” He added that “Debuting movies simultaneously in theaters and in the home is devastating to our collective business.” Those comment drew applause and agreement from the audience.
“Our movies will be seen exclusive first in our movie theaters,” Greenstein continued. “Movie theaters and the theatrical movie experience will triumph.
“Over the last 19 months there’s been a lot of doom and gloom,” Sony’s President of the Motion Picture Group added. “Without dismissing the very real challenges, we at Sony take a long-term view of the movie business.”
During the studio’s conference lot, its executives also surprised the audience with the first trailer to their Disney MCU threequal, Spider-Man: No Way Home, as well as the first preview for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The latter sequel filled the majority of the company’s presentation time at CinemaCon, as its director, Jason Reitman, and his father, producer Ivan Reitman, who helmed the 1984 and 1989 films, were in attendance.
Greenstein also shared a quick sizzle reel that featured unseen footage from several other upcoming films from Sony. Those movies included Brad Pitt’s Bullet Train, Jonathan Majors’ Korean war drama, Devotion, Morbius with Jared Leto and the Reese Witherspoon-produced feature adaptation of the Delia Owens novel, Where the Crawdads Sing.
Tom Rothman, the Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, also made a surprise appearance at CinemaCon. He told the crowd that that the studio “values theatrically above all media,” and that it’s a home for filmmakers who are looking to impact the cultural conversation with big-screen projects.
Sony is unique from other major Hollywood studios, as it’s the only one that doesn’t have its own streaming service. It’s also the only one that hasn’t used COVID-19 as an excuse to premiere movies in theaters and digitally for at-home viewing on the same date, which has drawn criticisms from theater owners.
But Sony hasn’t ignored the realities of Hollywood’s new dependence on streaming services to help promote its films. Since the start of the pandemic, the company has sold several films to streaming platforms; the Tom Hanks-starring war drama, Greyhound, will stream on Apple, and Netflix has picked up the animated comedy, The Mitchells vs. The Machines.
Sony also announced several distribution deals this past spring, in which several of its movies will be initially released in theaters, and will then head to VOD before heading to Netflix and finally Disney. The studio will also make films that head straight to Netflix.