Last year, filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo directed the highest-grossing movie of all time, Avengers: Endgame. The film is often used as an example to show that the global box-office is alive and thriving, even as digital streaming services grow in prominence. In an interview with, Joe Russo revealed that despite the staggering success of his own movies in cinema halls, he believes streaming sites offer unique advantages to film enthusiasts.

"I mean the world is disrupting and it's changing at lightning speed and the [global health emergency] has certainly accelerated that change. And I think that there are certain stories that are better suited for digital distribution in the off of theatrical distribution and I think, you know it's becoming more evident what those stories are. I also think that there's a real specificity to, you know, reaching regions, international regions that digital has as an advantage. Also, there's a cost advantage. People can share accounts, you know, where they can get, you know, 10 movies in a month for the cost of one film. You know not everyone can afford the luxury of going to the theater."
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The rising cost of going to theaters is often blamed for falling cinema attendance around the world. Fans argue that since they have to pay exorbitant amounts for theater tickets, with the added cost of transportation, snacks, and drinks, they now have to pick and choose which movies to watch in theaters. Naturally, giant spectacle movies like Avengers are the preferred choice under such circumstances.

This has led to small-budget movies getting squeezed out of theaters, which in turn has made studios reluctant to invest in such movies. According to Russo, the solution to this problem for smaller films is streaming, where the question of how much money is collected at the box office becomes irrelevant.

"There's just a wider audience that you can reach and there's no metrics of you know, opening weekend box office by which films get defined inappropriately because not every movie is designed to crush it at the box office opening weekend. And if that's gonna hurt the story or the, you know, the way that the press or the public perceives a movie, then maybe that's not the best way to release that film."

Of course, Hollywood is not going to end its symbiotic relationship with theaters overnight. But more than any other year, 2020 has proven to be a time when streaming sites have almost completely replaced cinema halls as the main distribution choice for new movies, big and small, at least in America. The fact that a giant blockbuster movie like Wonder Woman 1984 is going to debut on HBO Max on the same day as its theatrical release is, according to Russo, an important portent of things to come.

"I think that [Wonder Woman 1984] that's just a sampling of what the future will look like. But I think they can supercharge each other and those that want the theatrical experience can get it and those that, you know for other reasons, economic or health or whatever those may be, have the opportunity to see it in their own home."

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