Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour Movie Has Paved the Way for Huge Changes in Hollywood

The other key element is that for the better part of the last century, distributors have been legally forbidden from exhibiting their own movies. This is due to the landmark Paramount Decrees which came about after the Supreme Court decision in the United States vs. Paramount Pictures (1948).

In that historic ruling, the SCOTUS dismantled vertical integration in Hollywood, meaning movie studios could no longer also own the movie houses and cinemas where their movies were shown. Prior to this ruling, most of the movie theaters in the U.S. were owned by a handful of studios who controlled which films those exhibitors could screen and at what prices. It was bordering on a handful of monopolies.

Of course modern American courts have far fewer hang ups about monopolies, and the decision did seem somewhat antiquated in a 21st century when streaming services also control their own means of production, distribution, and exhibition, all under one roof. Hence the Federal District Court of Southern New York overturning the Paramount Decrees in August 2020. (One might suggest the better alternative would be to legally prohibit, say, Netflix or Disney from creating the original content they premiere on their streaming services, but that’s obviously a nonstarter in this anti-regulatory climate.)

As a consequence, movie studios can now technically own their own theaters, a turn of legal fate the studios have been slow to take advantage of. However, it also means major exhibitors, such as AMC Entertainment, can also act as their own distributors, as well as distributors for other movie theater chains and independent cinemas. In other words, the theaters can cut the studios out.

AMC reportedly felt little need to give studios a warning about the deal with Swift given how liberated studios felt about moving agreed-upon theatrical releases to streaming in 2020, or deciding to release entire 2021 film slates, and a healthy chunk of 2022’s, on their streaming services the same day and date they opened in theaters. The studios insisted it was only about COVID safety concerns, but it’s telling that after Disney realized they were losing money by putting Black Widow onto Disney+ (even with a paywall) the same day it opened in theaters, the entire exercise vanished with the company’s AAA Marvel products.

More recently, as members of the collective bargaining alliance that is the AMPTP, studios refused to engage with the writers’ and actors’ guilds during this summer’s strike for months, leading major fall 2023 films to abandon the entire fiscal quarter. It felt like 2020 all over again. Warner Bros. Pictures’ Dune: Part Two, for instance, had an entire lane cleared for it in November where it would hold all the IMAX screens for three weeks, undisturbed by even Marvel. And yet, WB opted to delay the film to March 2024 after letting the AMPTP drag its feet on the strikes all summer.


Keh Doon Tumhein 14th October 2023 Written

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