Greyhound. The Poster Child for the Advantages and Disadvantages of Sending Your Movie Straight to Streaming.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the theatrical release schedule has essentially evaporated for 2020. Certain films have taken the plunge in either adopting a Premium Video on Demand release strategy or being sold as a with subscription streaming exclusive for a particular platform. One of the highest-profile examples in the latter category is Tom Hanks World War Two submarine thriller Greyhound. The film was purchased for around $70 million by Apple and shoved on Apple TV + which continues to be an almost completely bereft platform. Even if a potential viewer for other streaming services wanted to focus exclusively on new releases from Netflix and Amazon this would give them more than enough new content to watch and potentially review /discuss. There is no need to invest in other streaming services unless you are is a particular fan of a certain brand (looking at you Disney.) For this critic his film of the year Cartoon Saloons WolfWalkers debuts on Tom Hanks December 11th and he figured it was worth investing in the streaming service until that film has its streaming debut. The only other major film of interest not already seen by this critic (after also seeing On The Rocks theatrically) was Greyhound. Having watched the film on the service it is the poster child for the benefits and drawbacks of releasing films as a with subscription streaming exclusive.
It’s doubtful that a film like Greyhound would have done well theatrically. Its nothing more than 85 minutes (excluding credits) of Tom Hanks delivering orders to the crew of the titular submarine. It’s the kind of product built exclusively to appeal to dads and viewers who find appeal in this genre of war film. It’s easy to see why Sony did not have a great deal of faith in it. That said for as underdeveloped and bare-bones as the film feels beyond the core premise its best element is some superb sound design. That’s an incredibly immersive quality to the mix giving the audience the feeling that they are a fly on the wall with Tom Hanks and crew. It was designed with the biggest screen and most elaborate Dolby Atmos surround sound in mind. the unfortunate thing is the majority of viewers won’t be watching the film under those conditions. This critic was watching on a nice 40 inch 4K TV and a good quality pair of headphones but as the sounds of war raged within the sound mix there was always the burning question of if this viewer would treat the film more favourably if he was seeing it theatrically.
Greyhound represents the perfect example of the positives and negatives of bypassing theatrical release and releasing your film as a streaming exclusive. Releasing a movie this way will potentially increase access and viewership. Alternatively, when mastering a film for the full cinema experience there will be a certain level of variation in the presentation but not nearly to the extent, there is with an audience watching from home. Much as they might want to the filmmakers behind individual offerings can’t decide weather potential viewer will want to watch on their phone, tablet, smart TV or full home theatre. A reduction in screen size we will decidedly reduce the impact of the product being viewed (especially if it was designed for the biggest screen and best sound system possible.) With a few exceptions, the films made in the traditional studio system and then sold to streaming are the ones the studio may not have had a great deal of faith in, to begin with. Much as it does have some merit and the star power of Tom Hanks Greyhound is a perfect example of this. Once the credits roll it’s the type of film that will not stick in viewers brains for very long.

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