For decades, a movie’s dissemination adhered to strict guidelines: First, a movie would appear in theaters. If you didn’t want to pay for a ticket, you’d have to wait until it was released on VHS or DVD. And if you didn’t want to buy or rent it, there was a chance that you’d be able to catch it on cable TV.

The rise of streaming services puts stress on this model. The COVID-19 pandemic shattered it.

University of Virginia’s Anthony Palomba, a media innovation and audience analysis scholar, explains why Hollywood executives are so eager to move on from the antiquated way of doing things, even as some film directors chafe at the new regime.

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Fans of ‘The Sopranos’ will have the option of watching Michael Gandolfini play a young Tony Soprano from their living rooms or in theaters. Bobby Bank/GC Images via Getty Images

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Anthony Palomba, University of Virginia

With pricing flexibility, the ability to capture data on viewers and the promise of attracting new subscribers, film premieres on streaming services are a no-brainer for studio executives.

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