Even before the Coronavirus pandemic had reduced the theatrical industry to a shell of its former self, the business had already been changed irrevocably by the unstoppable rise of the streaming service. The biggest actors, actresses and filmmakers in Hollywood were increasingly taking their talents to the small screen, thanks in part to the creative freedom afforded by working outside the studio system.
Sony has now made a point, though, of confirming that Spider-Man: No Way Home will only be playing in theaters when it arrives in December, which is an important distinction to make when plenty of other high profile titles have been hit with either hybrid releases or pulled from the big screen entirely and sent straight to streaming.
Of course, part of this is due to the fact that Sony are the only one of the so-called ‘Big Five’ that don’t have their own platform. Universal Studios has Peacock, Warner Bros. has HBO Max, Paramount+ is officially launching next week and Walt Disney Studios have both Disney Plus and Hulu at their disposal, so it’s not as if Spider-Man: No Way Home has a fallback option for the worst case scenario.
Homecoming and Far From Home still aren’t available on the Disney Plus library, and No Way Home feels like a certainty to sail past a billion dollars at the box office, so Sony are clearly keeping the Mouse House at arm’s length to drive up revenue.
While you’d certainly hope that the theatrical experience has at least come close to returning to normal by December, we know better than to rule anything out based on how the last twelve months have gone, but the company have made it abundantly clear that Spider-Man: No Way Home is either playing exclusively in theaters or nowhere at all.