Movie theaters came back with a vengeance. But will the good times last?


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  2 weeks ago  •  9 comments

By:   Daniel Arkin and Dylan Byers

Movie theaters came back with a vengeance. But will the good times last?
Robust box office returns over the Memorial Day holiday weekend are raising hopes that cinema chains can stage a comeback after a brutal year.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

But he acknowledged that movie theaters have been on a rocky financial road: "You can't close a business down from anywhere from six months to a year and not have any income without it having a lasting effect."

If movie studios want to keep business humming, they will need to find ways to turn the big-picture experience into an irresistible proposition.

The combined North American box office fetched $97 million over the four-day weekend, according to data from the media measurement firm Comscore. "A Quiet Place Part II," John Krasinski's long-delayed horror sequel, grossed $57 million.

Disney's "Cruella," meanwhile, raked in about $26.5 million over the four-day period — a respectable gross, given that viewers could rent the "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" prequel on the Disney+ streaming service the same day it debuted in brick-and-mortar theaters.

In total, the North American box office could climb above $100 million over the holiday weekend, according to Comscore. It's the strongest overall performance since March 2020, when Covid-19 forced the vast majority of theaters to close their doors and viewers retreated inside their homes.

"It does signal the return of robust theatergoing, and it is a major step in the recovery of the $40B+ global box office business," Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at Paramount Pictures, the studio that distributed both chapters in the "A Quiet Place" series, said by text message.

The success of the follow-up to "A Quiet Place" follows strong returns for the biggest hit of the year to date: Warner Bros.' "Godzilla vs. Kong," which pulled in just over $30 million during its opening weekend in March and has gone on to gross nearly $100 million domestically.

Seventy-five percent of theaters that were open in 2019 are back in business, Comscore said, and the number could rise as the pandemic eases and more people are vaccinated.

The summer calendar is also stocked with potential blockbusters, such as the musical "In the Heights," the ninth installment in the "Fast & Furious" franchise and Marvel's "Black Widow." ("Fast and Furious" films are distributed by Universal Pictures, a unit of NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.)

Moviegoers settle in for a showing of "Tom and Jerry" at the Cinemark Playa Vista movie theater in Los Angeles on March 15.Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images file

But the film exhibition business still faces significant economic headwinds and a revolution in consumption habits that threaten the survival of the big-screen experience.

The pandemic-era shutdowns put many chains in dire financial straits. The California-based chain Pacific Theatres, for example, has said it will not reopen any of its locations, including the popular ArcLight Cinemas in the heart of Hollywood.

The weekend revenues were also far off from totals over the same period in 2019, when Disney's live-action remake of "Aladdin" led the U.S. box office with more than $116 million in ticket sales, according to the Amazon-owned website Box Office Mojo.

"In a normal marketplace at this time of year, you would have 1,600 more theaters open, so I think capacity and availability remain big challenges," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore.

Meanwhile, many consumers have grown even more accustomed to streaming movies from the comfort of their living rooms, conditioned by months of lockdown and enticed by the flexibility of on-demand viewing.

Dergarabedian said that if studios and theaters want to keep business humming, they will need to find ways to turn the big-picture experience into an irresistible proposition long after the novelty of returning to normalcy has worn off.

At least some of the major movie studios have tried to adapt to the shifting landscape, making new releases available to stream at home far sooner than they did in years past. (In the pre-pandemic days, most films needed to play in theaters for an exclusive 90-day window.)

Warner Bros. Pictures decided to release all of its 2021 films, including "In the Heights," simultaneously in theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service.

"A Quiet Place II" will land on the Paramount+ platform after just 45 days on the traditional big screen, potentially attracting new subscribers to one of the more recent entries in the fiercely competitive streaming market.


jrDiscussion - desc
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1  Buzz of the Orient    2 weeks ago

The theatres will certainly have competition if a couple at a movie theatre can spend 40 to 50 bucks for tickets and snacks, competing that with the fact that larger home screens (and sitting closer to the TV) with good sound systems is almost a match to a distance view of a theatre screen, the ability to pause for a washroom or refrigerator break, all at a much lesser cost if streaming or rental.  No travel or parking, nor is a babysitter required as well.  And due to the lockdowns, people have learned that there is an alternative.

4D movies can't be replicated at home, and they are an experience, but some people might not want to get sprayed in the face, jiggled in their seat and punched in the back while watching a movie.  If many workers have learned that they can work from home, they might decide that if that alternative is available for entertainment at a much lesser cost as well, they just might take it. 

Junior Quiet
2  Snuffy    2 weeks ago

I haven't been to a movie theater since 2005. Combination of the prices, elderly bladder and the inability of theaters to provide me with a pause button drove me out of going to the theater. Add in that Hollywood has turned out more bad movies than good ones in the past 20 years is another huge piece of it. Due to the cost of filming the wide open camera shots are no more with the exception of a glance down a city street. Tight camera angles and darkened or slightly blurred backgrounds have allowed movie makers to cheap-out on the sets. There just isn't much coming out of Hollywood these days that demand the big screen. I have a 65 inch TV and surround sound at home which is plenty good enough for me.  And it includes a pause button for those mid-movie bathroom breaks...   

Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
3  Thrawn 31    2 weeks ago

Yeah... why would I want to go to a theater? I’d rather watch these movies from home on my comfy ass couch, with snacks I’ve already bought, be able to pause when I need to, not have to corral my kids, and spend half as much. 

Professor Principal
4  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

Most people have big screens at home these days. Depending on where you sit in relation to the screen , the image can be just as "big" as in the movie theater.  The sound at home may not be quite as awesome as in a movie theater , but its good enough.

Theaters are doomed.

Their main hope is that people dont find something else to do for a date night. 

Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
4.1  Thrawn 31  replied to  JohnRussell @4    2 weeks ago

My wife and I might go to the movies like once a year and that is only to see something we have been looking forward to. Now though... eh, we will wait for it to come out on Fandango or another streaming service.

Freshman Silent
5  Dragon    2 weeks ago

My husband and I used to have a movie date on Tuesdays, if there was a movie we wanted to see. Tuesdays were $5 day and we went to the first showing, usually mid-morning, so not many others in theater. We brought in water and snacks...except popcorn...had to buy movie popcorn. We saw some good movies in relatively empty movie theater. We don't own a large screen TV but have surround sound. Theater we like hasn't begun Tuesday early showings and there hasn't been movie we want to see, if those two things come together might go again. 

Professor Principal
6  sandy-2021492    2 weeks ago

There's a movie theater near here that sells food (not just movie snacks, but real food) and beer, wine, and mixed drinks.  I might go there once or twice a year, if there's a movie that's not out simultaneously on streaming and in theaters.  I don't think I've been there since 2019.  The food's not that special, and I'm the one driving, so the alcohol's not a big draw, either.  I have an HD4K TV at home, a pause button for bathroom and snack breaks, a dog to cuddle on my lap, and the sound isn't turned up so loud as to risk my eardrums.

Professor Principal
7  Kavika     2 weeks ago

The last movie I went to was Charlie Chaplin in the ''Little Tramp''. I didn't have to worry about surround sound since there was no sound.

Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
7.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Kavika @7    2 weeks ago

LOL.  No wonder you don't try my movie quizzes.


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