Amid film delays and move theater closings, can Hollywood be saved?


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  2 weeks ago  •  52 comments

By:   Ahiza Garcia-Hodges

Amid film delays and move theater closings, can Hollywood be saved?
Almost 70 percent of small and midsize movie theater companies could be forced to file for bankruptcy protection or close permanently, industry experts say.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Hollywood is no stranger to telling stories about global pandemics, but it now finds itself in the midst of a nonfiction narrative that may forever alter the industry. The Covid-19 pandemic has halted or delayed production on highly anticipated films, forced companies to modify movie releases and led to theater closings.

As filming slowly resumes on sets in states where numbers of coronavirus cases are low, routine testing of actors and crew members has become the norm — yet there have still been delays because of Covid-19 cases, which was the case on the set of "The Batman" when star Robert Pattinson tested positive.

As production companies continue to suffer during the pandemic, the impact has rippled down to movie theaters, which depend on new content to attract viewers and compete with the plethora of streaming platforms, like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

"Movie theaters are in dire straits. ... Absent a solution designed for their circumstances, theaters may not survive the impact of the pandemic."

Among the highly anticipated movies that have yet to hit theaters are the newest James Bond movie, "No Time to Die," which is now scheduled to premiere in April, and "Dune," which is now set for October 2021.

Studios willing to release movies this year have taken two different approaches, both of which affect theaters.

Some have opted to bypass theaters entirely by releasing films on demand or directly to subscription video-on-demand services. That hurts cinemas, because while studios and theaters each typically get about half of a film's box office gross intake, studios get more from digital releases — about 80 percent.

Universal has done that with several of its movies this year, starting in April with "Trolls World Tour," which it released on demand on the same day the film was supposed to have been released in theaters. It has also moved films like "The Invisible Man" and "The Hunt" to on-demand platforms. (Comcast is the parent company of both Universal and NBC News.)

Disney followed suit with "Mulan" after having repeatedly pushed back its movie theater release. The entertainment giant released the film in Asia, but in the U.S. and Europe it is available only on the Disney+ subscription service.

Furthermore, "Mulan" didn't gross nearly as much as it had been expected to pre-Covid-19. For movie theaters, that means a smaller cut of a smaller pie.

"It doesn't work at a sufficient scale to replace the economics that they're used to on a feature film," said media analyst Rich Greenfield of LightShed Partners. "It can work for a smaller film like 'Trolls.' It's very hard for a more expensive movie like 'Mulan.'"

Other studios have forged ahead and released movies internationally and in select U.S. markets, as was the case with Christopher Nolan's "Tenet," which was released in theaters internationally and in select U.S. markets. The film had middling success at the box office, earning $20 million when it premiered over Labor Day weekend.

"Tenet" has now topped $300 million globally, but its box office numbers highlight the other issue facing movie theaters: Audiences continue to be wary of returning to theaters as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to surge. President Donald Trump's positive test for Covid-19 highlights just how big a threat the virus continues to pose.

Theaters did come together to form CinemaSafe, an industry effort to adopt safety procedures developed by epidemiologists to protect theatergoers, but attendance remains low in spite of those efforts.

While theaters may be able to entice some people to return, they're bound by restrictions on capacity, and numerous states, including California, have allowed theaters to reopen only in certain regions. Three states, including New York, have yet to allow any cinemas to reopen.

That's especially problematic given how big the New York City and California markets are for theaters. The situation is so dire that Cineworld, the parent company of Regal cinemas, said Monday that it would temporarily close 536 of its U.S. locations.

"We are facing the situation where in a way it is better for the company to be closed than to be open. The U.S. market is the most important market in the world, and the two markets of New York and California are the most important markets in the U.S.," Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger told CNBC on Monday.

Greidinger said studios are hesitant to release movies because theaters in New York and California still aren't fully open. He said that the regulations in those states are essentially blocking new releases and that for it to make sense to keep theaters open, there must be a ready lineup of new movies.

"We are now like a grocery shop that has no food to sell," he said. "The cinemas are good. The cinemas are ready. We've implemented CinemaSafe very successfully ... but we don't get new movies."

Greenfield said the attendance levels show that consumers aren't ready to be in indoor movie theaters, which has forced Hollywood to realize that movie theaters "aren't viable as a monetization mechanism for their films" as the pandemic continues.

"Hollywood is essentially like a deer in headlights. They can't release their movies theatrically. They can't really sell them directly to the home, because they can't generate enough revenue and profit that way," Greenfield said. "There are two choices: You either follow Netflix, or you wait. Nearly every traditional Hollywood studio is choosing to wait."

The National Association of Theatre Owners, the Directors Guild of America, the Motion Picture Association and more than 70 directors, producers and writers sent a letter asking House and Senate leaders to extend relief to theaters.

"Movie theaters are in dire straits. ... Absent a solution designed for their circumstances, theaters may not survive the impact of the pandemic," the group wrote. "Theaters need specific relief targeted to their circumstances. We urge you to come together on a bipartisan solution that provides this relief."

The letter, which included the backing of famed directors Sofia Coppola, Lee Daniels and Clint Eastwood, noted that 93 percent of movie theater companies experienced financial losses of over 75 percent in the second quarter of 2020.

"If the status quo continues, 69 percent of small- and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently, and 66 percent of theater jobs will be lost," it said. "Our country cannot afford to lose the social, economic, and cultural value that theaters provide."

Greenfield said that the movie theater industry wasn't doing well before Covid-19 and that the pandemic now makes it hard to imagine that the industry can survive as it did.

"I think most of the movie theater chains will not survive in their current form. They're likely going to have to file for bankruptcy protection, and you're probably going to end up with a smaller footprint," Greenfield said.

He predicted that the moviegoing experience will change to become more of an event, similar to attending a concert or a sporting event. In this model, ticket prices would be higher, and the experience would likely include other perks to compete with at-home movie options.


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dennis smith
1  dennis smith    2 weeks ago

As with most industries, they will need to adapt and change to survive. Think the days of multimillionaires in movies are over.

The Magic Eight Ball
1.1  The Magic Eight Ball  replied to  dennis smith @1    2 weeks ago
Think the days of multimillionaires in movies are over.

IM liking that idea.


Trout Giggles
1.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  The Magic Eight Ball @1.1    2 weeks ago

I like the idea of no more multimillionaire athletes and politicians

Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.1.2  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.1.1    2 weeks ago

Me too!

But not going to happen.

2  JBB    2 weeks ago

The theater industry may have to scale way back. People were already choosing to be entertained at home before Covid-19. It may be a long time before people want to go back to crowded theaters, if ever.

Buzz of the Orient
3  Buzz of the Orient    2 weeks ago

Most members know I'm very much into movies, having created the Classic Cinema group on Newsvine, and did it again here on NT, now morphed into the group Everyone Loves Movies - Classic to Current due to the fact that not enough members are familiar with or else don't care for classic movies.  In the past almost 15 years I have been to a movie theatre only two times.  When I returned to North America about 12 years ago for a short visit to attend my son's wedding, I spent a little time with my brother and sister-in-law in our home town, and we went to the old neighbourhood movie theatre we used to attend as kids for the Saturday afternoon matinees - this last time to watch A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Then only once in all my years here in China I went to a theatre when it was released to see the final Hobbit movie, in 4-D, mostly for the experience of having mist sprayed in my face, being punched in the back and jiggled in my seat - quite an experience.  It's been many years since I first watched 3-D movies, such as Bwana Devil and House of Wax.  

I think that the advent of 4 to 5 foot flat screens has led many to prefer watching movies in the comfort of being home, with access to the refrigerator and the ability to pause the movie for a bathroom visit or to answer the phone.  In my present home I have a 4.5 foot flat screen and eight 24/7 movie channels that show a mix of foreign films, many of which are English language, and over the past few years I've probably watched almost an average of a movie a day.  They are, however, at least 3 years old because of copyright laws.  

The future?  I think we may be heading to holograph projection - movies in one end of your room that you can actually walk through.

Trout Giggles
3.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3    2 weeks ago

I haven't been to a movie theater in years. I don't like the atmosphere, the overpriced popcorn, and the fact I can't ever get an unsweet tea to drink with my overpriced popcorn. And when I need to go to the bathroom halfway thru that tea, I can't pause the movie.

I do prefer to watch movies at home

3.1.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Trout Giggles @3.1    2 weeks ago

Same here. For the exorbitant cost of going to a movie theater, I'm perfectly happy waiting a few months for it to come out on DVD or Netflix.

Paula Bartholomew
3.1.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Trout Giggles @3.1    2 weeks ago

I just wait for the movies to hit cable.

Sparty On
4  Sparty On    2 weeks ago

Nothing like seeing a good action/visual movie on the big screen imo.   Especially in something like IMAX 3-D.

That said, i have no desire to pay that kinda money for a simple feel good movie or drama so i think Theaters are going to become centers for more visual/action movies.   The multiple smaller screens will probably be gone in all but the biggest cities.

Movies like Avatar or the new Star Wars movies ...... IMAX is the only way to see those ..... if you don't ..... you are really missing out.

4.1  Kathleen  replied to  Sparty On @4    2 weeks ago

I agree, there is nothing like the feeling with the big screen and sound. The lounge chairs are nice now too. It does cost a lot and the popcorn is way overpriced. Once in a while I like to go if it’s a science fiction film or if the movie has a lot of scenery. 

I still like the moves and it’s a shame some are going out of business. 

Account Deleted
5  Account Deleted    2 weeks ago

Economists have no problem with businesses closing their doors. It is assumed that the failing business is not making the best use of resources. If it closes down, those resources are now available for new businesses with a better business model.

We should note that economists seldom derive their income from these failing businesses and so don't have to worry about not being able to pay the rent when failure happens.

Sparty On
5.1  Sparty On  replied to  Account Deleted @5    2 weeks ago
Economists have no problem with businesses closing their doors.

The owners and employees of the businesses that are closing down might have a different opinion about that.

Trout Giggles
5.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  Account Deleted @5    2 weeks ago

Makeshift drive-in movies have become popular around here. They'll take a space where you can park a lot of cars and set up a screen and play a movie. The big problem I've had with that is, all they want to show are movies from 5-10 years ago, movies that aren't even classics and almost always a kid movie. Sounds like another place for me to take a nap

5.2.1  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @5.2    2 weeks ago
Sounds like another place for me to take a nap

uh... that isn't what I did at the drive-ins 50 years ago when I was in high school.

Greg Jones
5.2.2  Greg Jones  replied to  devangelical @5.2.1    2 weeks ago

Older Fords had back seats that were large enough to allow freedom of movement

Trout Giggles
5.2.4  Trout Giggles  replied to  devangelical @5.2.1    2 weeks ago

I'm sure you watched the movie.....

5.2.5  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @5.2.4    2 weeks ago

not really. in fact I can't ever remember watching a full movie. there were 4 of them within a 10 minute drive of my high school. they were a social gathering place on the weekends and a commercial venture for my circle of friends and I. we made a small fortune selling alcohol, drugs, and condoms to those unable to plan ahead. then we would mess with those that were drunk or hallucinating. later it was off to the diner to watch the cops and motorheads punch each other out in the parking lot while having an after midnight snack. good times.

Trout Giggles
5.2.6  Trout Giggles  replied to  devangelical @5.2.5    2 weeks ago

Mr Giggles grew up in Denver and talked about 5 bucks for a carload at the drive-in. They would stuff people in wherever there was room including the trunk

There weren't that many drive-ins where I grew up. There was one in Mundys Corner and one in Indiana. Went to both. Don;t remember the movies

5.2.7  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @5.2.6    2 weeks ago

if he lived anywhere near where his brother lives now, we crossed paths. it was always $5 a carload for us, even when it wasn't advertised. cars from the 60's had huge trunks. there was also a drive-in that had a huge drainage culvert that went from the middle of the parking lot of the drive-in and emptied outside the fence. they finally got smart and welded a grate over the end outside the lot after a few years.

Trout Giggles
5.2.8  Trout Giggles  replied to  devangelical @5.2.7    2 weeks ago

He has talked about sneaking in to the drive-in before they got driver's licenses

5.2.9  Tessylo  replied to  Trout Giggles @5.2    2 weeks ago

There is a Drive-In called the Bengies here in Maryland, not that many left.  They re-opened late this summer.  Unfortunately drive-ins aren't practical in places where you can only count on good weather and being outdoors for about five to six months.  

5.2.10  Tessylo  replied to  devangelical @5.2.5    2 weeks ago

I remember a trip like that to the Drive In years ago.  There used to be so many drive ins all over the state.  My best friend borrowed his dads' car and wasn't supposed to bring anyone but me.  There were about eight of us all together by the time we got to the Drive In.  Someone was drinking Jack Daniels and someone was taking acid.  I remember the one guy drinking Jack Daniels throwing up and it went down the window/crack and that car was one hell of a mess after all was said and done.  

That was for Dawn of the Dead movie - all three of them I think.  

The car next to us was a mom and dad with two kids.  Don't know what they were doing at horror movies with kids but.  Anyway, one of my friends, every time he got out of the car, he would bang their car.  The dad was nice the first couple of times and then yelled at him.  I bet they were sorry as hell they parked next to us.  

Those were the days!

6  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

The appropriate and timely comparison between movie theaters and watching movies at home is to compare that to brick and mortar shopping and online shopping. There is immense "convenience" to staying home to shop or watch movies. 

If everyone still had a 25" box tv though, that wouldnt be the case. Relatively cheap large screen tv's and good sound systems for home screens is what will end movie theaters, and it's kind of inevitable. 

Trout Giggles
6.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  JohnRussell @6    2 weeks ago

I will buy pretty much everything on line except groceries and fishing rods

7  Drakkonis    2 weeks ago

Some movies can only be seen in the manner intended inside a theater. Avatar, for example. As I recall, it required certain equipment in order to be shown. I've been waiting years to see the sequels and I'd really like to see them as intended. 

Trout Giggles
7.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Drakkonis @7    2 weeks ago

I saw Avatar on my TV

7.1.1  Drakkonis  replied to  Trout Giggles @7.1    2 weeks ago
I saw Avatar on my TV

As have I, but it doesn't hold a candle to the experience of having seen it on the big screen. Just didn't feel the same. Wish you'd seen it that way the first time. 

Trout Giggles
7.1.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  Drakkonis @7.1.1    2 weeks ago

Didn't care for the movie anyway, so...

I don't much care for movies that have to rely on expensive CGI instead of talented writers, directors, and actors

Hal A. Lujah
8  Hal A. Lujah    2 weeks ago

At the theater there’s no pause button when I gotta pee and the food is ridiculously expensive.  Last movie theater I went to I had a coupon for a free large drink.  The choices didn’t include water.  I paid seven fucking dollars for a bottle of water, because I prefer my water to be free of corn syrup and chemicals.  I say let the theaters die since they are run by morons who are more interested in giving you diabetes than meeting your reasonable expectations. 

8.1  MUVA  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @8    2 weeks ago

That is what you I like to see the painting of a whole industry with a wide brush followed by a lack of compassion for those who will lose their livelihood well done

Hal A. Lujah
8.1.1  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  MUVA @8.1    2 weeks ago

If your “livelihood” involves tearing tickets, try harder.

8.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @8.1.1    2 weeks ago

So working in a movie theater is not considered worthy employment by you?

Hal A. Lujah
8.1.3  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Texan1211 @8.1.2    2 weeks ago

It’s right up there with delivering newspapers. Raise your bar a little if you want to pay rent, health insurance, car payment, car insurance, groceries and utilities.

8.1.4  MUVA  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @8.1.1    2 weeks ago

Or owning cinema draft houses like my wife’s family does not to mention the waitstaff that makes good money in tips for part time nights.

8.1.5  Texan1211  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @8.1.3    2 weeks ago
It’s right up there with delivering newspapers. Raise your bar a little if you want to pay rent, health insurance, car payment, car insurance, groceries and utilities.

Most of the theater employees I have seen have been students or retirees from other fields.

Maybe you shouldn't be giving financial advice to people you don't know and when you have no knowledge of their economic circumstances.

I guess I should be happy knowing you aren't demanding $15 per hour jobs for everyone.

Trout Giggles
8.1.6  Trout Giggles  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @8.1.3    2 weeks ago

And tomorrow these same cats will be telling people that they shouldn't rely on minimum wage jobs to pay rent, utilities, etc. Tomorrow they will be saying they need to aim higher

Perrie Halpern R.A.
8.1.7  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Trout Giggles @8.1.6    2 weeks ago

Trout it looks like you might be talking around Texan. Please don't in the future. 

Trout Giggles
8.1.8  Trout Giggles  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @8.1.7    2 weeks ago

Ok. I will take points and please delete my comment. Thanks

Perrie Halpern R.A.
8.1.9  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Trout Giggles @8.1.8    2 weeks ago

You get the one warning. Next time you will get points. Thanks for being a good sport.  

Trout Giggles
8.1.10  Trout Giggles  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @8.1.9    2 weeks ago

No problem. It won't happen again.

Trout Giggles
8.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @8    2 weeks ago

I wish they offered something besides pop. I don't drink pop. I only drink water and unsweet tea

Hal A. Lujah
8.2.1  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Trout Giggles @8.2    2 weeks ago

It is sadistic to award patrons with a coupon for a free beverage, provided the beverage is laced with poison.  Water + poison: free.  Water: $7.

Trout Giggles
8.2.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @8.2.1    2 weeks ago

That's outrageous for a bottle of water! I hate pop because I don't like to drink stuff with any kind of sweetener. And since they started using corn syrup as a sweetener pop just sucks

Perrie Halpern R.A.
8.2.3  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @8.2.1    2 weeks ago

Always take a bottle of water in a jacket pocket. That's what Matt does.

I like my chemical sugar free drink, LOL. 

Trout Giggles
8.2.4  Trout Giggles  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @8.2.3    2 weeks ago

Hell, if I'm gonna do that, that ain't gonna be water in that bottle

Paula Bartholomew
8.2.5  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Trout Giggles @8.2    2 weeks ago

I also drink mostly water and iced tea.  Once in awhile I get the urge for a diet Pepsi or a root beer though.

Trout Giggles
8.2.6  Trout Giggles  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @8.2.5    2 weeks ago

I like a little ginger ale with my Crown. If I have to drink soda because nothing else is available I will always opt for root beer

8.3  Tessylo  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @8    2 weeks ago

I remember there was a time when I went to the movies and I always saw part of the experience was buying the popcorn and sodas and candy at the theater.  As it was being wrung up, my friend behind me said, 'that'll be $400 please'!

The cashier didn't think that was so funny.  

I learned over time to buy a bunch of candy and stuff it in my purse but only buy soda and popcorn at the movies.  So damned expensive, even just the popcorn and sodas.  

Hal A. Lujah
8.3.1  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Tessylo @8.3    2 weeks ago

My first experience with beer was at a theater.  My friend and I were like 14 or something and met some dudes with a ton of Miller in their van.  They invited us to go joy riding so we skipped the movie and drank too much beer with total strangers while driving around town in their creepy van.  Safe, right?  Lol.  We had a blast, got hammered and they dropped us back off at the movie so we could mingle with people exiting the movie we were supposed to be at when my mom and dad were picking us up.  I puked my ass off in the middle of a big crowd of people, then looked up and my parents were standing in front of me.  Memories ...

Perrie Halpern R.A.
9  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.    2 weeks ago

I miss the movies. Nothing beats seeing a film on the big screen. I also like getting my popcorn and soda and the new reclining chairs. I take my shoes off and I am uber comfortable. We have club memberships at a theater so the discounts are a big save.

And it's a fun night out. 

9.1  Texan1211  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @9    2 weeks ago
I miss the movies. Nothing beats seeing a film on the big screen. I also like getting my popcorn and soda and the new reclining chairs. I take my shoes off and I am uber comfortable. We have club memberships at a theater so the discounts are a big save.

At one of our theaters, we have a monthly membership fee of $20, which allows us to see 3 movies per week, plus a free size-upgrade on concession stand items. We always like to go to matinees, sometimes we have a private showing, and have never been when there has been more than 20 people in the theater. Unfortunately, they stopped matiness for now, so we have left our account suspended until they start up again. They just announced the other complex will be shutting down this Thursday.

Some movies just seem to need the big screen for full effect.


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