Popular Posts

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Are Superheroes In Need Of Super Interventions?

What do Superheroes stand for? In today's world, can movie superheroes justify the violence inherent in their movies and its impact on society at large?
Coping With Their Angst


Tom King, publisher and comic writer at DC Comics, thinks so and announced that his next project will be a seven issue comic series entitled, 'Heroes In Crisis'.

The 'Heroes In Crisis' series is going to center around a place called 'The Sanctuary' - a trauma center for superheroes founded by Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.  The premise of King's series will trace what happens when the 'Sanctuary' fails to deliver for its patients and what happens afterwards.

"I feel I'm part of a generation of people who spent their twenties fighting terrorism. I think that sort of experience of violence is shaping who we are as a culture and as a country."  I believe King is right. I do think that the level of violence in films, video games, TV shows, and the rest does impact society - and not in a good way.

King went on, "And I want to discuss that. To talk about the impact of violence we experience in movies, particularly superhero comics and films, and what that can do to a person, community, nation, world. I feel a duty to talk about what violence does to a society through the comics I'm creating."

So superheroes, like all of us, have angst, internal conflict, coping issues. How they address their issues may be a lesson for all of us. Perhaps the violence can be dialed-down but the question remains is the violence of the content impacting the viewer or is the content mirroring what exists in society?
What do you think?

Just saying,
Jim Lavorato



Monday, June 04, 2018

What Makes A Franchise: Story or Actors?

Franchise films: Stars or Character Driver
Some of the very best, most popular, not to mention profitable, movie franchises are studded with big named 'A' listers.  For example, 'Avengers: Infinity War' inclued Robert Downey, Scarlett Johansson, Chad Boseman, etc. In fact, most of the Marvel character-based films have loads of 'A' listers.

So the question has become: what is driving the franchise box-office? Is it the stars or is it the Marvel, superhero characters?  Now, take a franchise like the 'Incredibles', being animated it has no human actors, yet it is a box-office smash. In fact, its family-based characters are the films' biggest selling point.

Advertisement: Fund-House Ventures, LLC


Let me put it this way. If a franchise film had no human 'A' listers would you still visit your local cinema and see it? The answer is Yes, pure and simple.

To me, it is quite obvious that franchise films don't need a cadre of big-name actors to carry them to box-office success.  'Solo: A Star Wars Story' is a great example, can you name the actor who plays Han Solo in the film? On the other hand, one of this summer's expected big money makers, 'Skyscraper', would probably not garner a big box-office payday if Dwayne Johnson, was not in the lead role. He's the Rock and he draws in moviegoers like a magnet.
Bond, the ultimate Franchise

Franchise films, like 'Mission Impossible', have latched onto a star, in this case Tom Cruise, and stayed with him, as he bring in the money.  At 55, Cruise has no plans on giving up the phyicaly demanding aspects of the 'Impossible' films - but how long can this last? Like the Bond films, if the "MI" franchise is to continue Cruise will have to be replaced.

Now, a perfect example of star-power in a franchise was the 'Oceans' series. With, Clooney, Pitt, Damon, and Cheadle running complicated capers the three 'Oceans' pics would never have made blockbuster status without these 'A' listers.  Now they are trying to replicate it in 'Oceans 8' with a stellar all female cast: Bullock, Blanchett, Rihanna, Paulson, Kaling, and Awkwafina - it will be interesting to see if the women can keep the franchise 'working'.

To sum up - it seems that in this time of the franchise - stars have to really push or come in bunches to carry the films and avoid extinction. Because in the 'great cinematic universe' stars die out while a franchise, like black space, can live on forever.

Best,

Jim Lavorato
by: Cinema Mucho Gusto






A Weinstein Horror Film

De Palma plans Weinstein horror film
Like I said before - you can't make this stuff up.

On Friday (6/1) Brian De Palma, the noted film director - 'Scarface', 'The Untouchables', 'Mission Impossible', 'Carrie', stated that he would be creating and directing a Harvey Weinstein horror film.

Yes, horror is the right genre.
The 77 year-old director, in an interview with French publication Le Parisien, stated that the whole Weinstein saga  of sexual abuse and harassment will be the premise for his next work, and be a film that will be within the horror genre. "I'm writing a film about the whole scandal. My character won't be named Harvey Weinstien, but it will be a horror movie with a sexual predator, and take place in the film industry."  The similarities will be noticeable.

De Palma did not say how soon the script for this new film would be completed.  His latest project, a movie entitled, 'Domino', has just wrapped but no date for its release has been announced.

Just saying,

Jim Lavorato
Cinema Mucho Gusto



Tuesday, May 29, 2018

What's Up With The Weinstein Saga

The Harvey Weinstein story is one of those "you couldn't make this stuff up" sagas.  The latest is that Harvey is now on trail in New York City facing criminal charges - that should be interesting.  But a less intriguing chapter to the story is what has happened with the once fabled Hollywood production/distribution company - The Weinstein Company (TWC).

Well, the company has been sold to Dallas, TX, based Lantern Capital - which specializes in purchasing distressed businesses, re-structuring them, and re-selling them. Lantern's prior purchases have included everything from car dealerships to a zinc recycling company.  Lantern purchased TWC for $310m, a bargain, as the Weinsteins had grown it into an Oscar winning, indie film juggernaut; however, TWC needs rehab and rebranding, big-time.  Don't forget, Harvey was the prime-mover for the #MeToo movement.

Harv, facing the music in NYC court
Harvey, and his brother Bob, had built up Miramax from scratch and started TWC after selling Miramax to Disney. As part of the deal, Lantern will assume more than $100m in debt. In exchange, Lantern will be the owners of TWC's 277 movies and television shows.

Whether or not Lantern can turn TWC around is questionable, as they have no prior experience with dealing in the Hollywood arena. My guess is that Lantern will complete the financing and distribution of the films already in production by TWC and then go from there.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Missing Movie Prop

Iron Man Suit Stolen Last Week
Movie props go missing all the time. Some are valueless while others can fetch lots of cash. For example, last week the Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation into the disappearance of the $325,000 suit from the 2008 Iron Man movie.

Over the years, thousands of props have gone AWOL, a few of the more interesting ones, include:

- Wizard of Oz - Ruby Slippers. A number of pairs of the famous sparkle red shoes were made for the 1939 classic. One pair was stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland exhibit that was touring in Minnesota. Currently a $1 million reward is offered for information regarding the whereabouts of the shoes.

- World War Z - Cows.  Yes, believe it or not during the 2013 shooting of the film a pair of fiberglass cows, used in several scenes, were stolen from the set - go figure?

- Goldfinger - Aston Martin DB5. There were four Astons used during the filming of 'Goldfinger' in 1964. One of the original cars was actually a DB4 and was stolen in 1997 from the residence in Florida - it had been insured for $4.5 million and has never been recovered.

Lee as Scaramanga with Golden Gun
- The Goonies - Treasure Map. When filming ended, Sean Astin, who starred in the movie, asked, and was allowed, to take and keep 'One-Eyed Willies' treasure map.  Some years later, Astin related that his mother, the actor Patty Duke, threw the map in the trash, thinking it was just a piece of scrap paper.

- Easy Rider - Choppers. Four motorcycles were used in the filming of the '69 classic starring Fonda, Nicholson, and Hopper. Three of the bikes were stolen before the movie was released! The remaining bike sold at auction for $1.62 million in 2014.

- Man With The Golden Gun - Golden Gun. From the 1975 Bond film, one of the four guns, valued at $136,000, which were used by the film's villain, Scaramanga (portrayed by Christopher Lee) was stolen and has never been recovered.

And so it goes. Many, many props disappear from movie sets and prop rooms. In some cases, the value of the prop can be in the millions depending upon the film, how it was used, and by which person in the movie. From clothes, to guns, to cars, to superhero suits anything is up-for-'grabs'.

Just saying,
Jim Lavorato

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

WHO Are The GIANTS Of Cinema Exhibition

The cinema exhibition business is growing. The growth is global and as it increases there are profound changes taking place which will, in time, change to face of the content being produced.

If you assume that the U.S. is leading the way, think again! Of the top 30 exhibition giants the U.S. has only three, two of which in the bottom five, see the listing below:
China leads the way

Company                                 Global Screens         Country

1. Wanda Film Group                    14,347                       China
2. Cineworld                                    9,538                       U.K.
3. Cinemark                                     5,959                       U.S.
4. Dadi Theater Group                     5,870                       China
5.Cinepolis                                       5,334                       Mexico
6. China Film Digifilm Cinemas     4,952                       China
7. China Film South                         4,366                      China
8. China Film Stellar                        3,606                      China
9. Shanghai United Circuit               3,392                      China
10. CJCGV                                       3,346                      S. Korea
11. Cinemex                                     2,728                       Mexico
12. Beijing Hongliyu Cinemas        2,698                       China
13. Hengdian Cinemas                    2,322                       China
14. Jinyi Cinemas                            2,220                       China
15. Huaxia United Cinemas            2,178                        China

Of the remaining 15 giants, 8 are Chinese, 2 are U.S. and there are 1 each from U.K., Canada, Australia, France, and S. Korea.

If we look at the U.S., where the numbers are surveyed weekly, 57.5% of movie goers are men, 42.5% women. In terms of audience profile by age: 3-10 yrs. - 5.6%, 11-14 yrs. - 4.5%, 15-24 yrs. - 17.6%, 25-34 yrs. - 18.7%, 45 - 49 yrs. - 20.1%, 50-50 yrs. - 10.9%, 60 yrs.+ - 22.7%.

In terms of where moviegoers found their show times: 30% - Theatre websites, 28% - 3rd Party websites, 21.5% - Search engines, 13.7% - At Theatre, 10.2% - Other Digital, 6.3% - Someone Else Chose, 4.3% - Other.  An exhibitor's own website is the top destination for most U.S. moviegoers when it comes to selecting a show time. Which indicates that every cinema, however, small should have a website for their cinema.

Where did moviegoers Buy their tickets? 72% at the Theatre, 24% on-line, 4% other places.

Clearly, the dynamics of where screens are located on a global basis, who is purchasing tickets, and where they are buying tickets are changing, and that change has occurred rapidly. CMG thinks that over time these changes will impact on the kind of movies being produced.

Just saying,
Jim Lavorato








Monday, May 07, 2018

iPIC : Restaurant or Cinema?

iPic Entertainment, headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, went public earlier this year with a $40m IPO. Currently there are 15 iPic locations across the U.S. with five more under construction and plans to expand both domestically and overseas.
iPic's Pod Seating option

CMG had the opportunity to meet with iPic COO, Sherry Yard, and asked her if she considered iPic - a cinema or a restaurant? The quick response from Yard was, "I'm not in the theater business. I'm in the restaurant business. I'm in the hospitality business." Yard calls what iPic does "eatertainment", meaning the focus is on eating first and then on entertaining, which is very different than say, Alamo Theaters.

In fact, Yard is also the head chef at iPic! She is a three time James Beard Award winner and worked for 19 years with Wolfgang Puck. She said that the food developed for and served at the iPic is not typical movie food, but that it has a chef-driven menu based off the things she and her foody-friends like to eat and cook.

I visited the iPic in Scottsdale, AZ last week and as I entered the 'establishment' I was not in (the expected) cinema lobby but in a restaurant called Tanzy.  Tanzy is an Italian restaurant and bar and serves different food and beverages vs. the cinema. People were dining, drinking, and hanging out. Some going to see a movie, some coming from seeing a movie, and some were not there to see a movie.
Tanzy Restaurant

The restaurant plays a major role in iPic's business plan. Last year, 52% of its revenue came from food and beverage, the remainder from the cinema - box office and concession. Yard said she believes because most of the staff come from the restaurant or hotel industries they are more customer oriented and that makes a big difference in how patrons view their experience at iPic.

Certainly, the restaurant and cinema businesses are separate, each requiring special management skills but iPic seems to be doing both and doing both very well.

Jim Lavorato

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Independents, Finally Getting It Together

After decades of being mistreated by distributors, NATO, and pretty much everyone in the cinema industry, independent exhibitors have finally smart'n-up and join an alliance to voice their concerns and protect their interests. 

Formed earlier this year, the not-for-profit Independent Cinema Alliance (ICA) already has 100 members, representing over 1,000 screens throughout North America.

According to Randy Hester, spokesperson for the Alliance, "Independent cinemas represent over 20% of all screens - equivalent to being the 3rd largest circuit in the U.S. So, speaking with one voice gives this group a lot of clout and brings to the forefront all of their concerns."
Film Availability Biggest Issue for ICA Members

"We aren't part of a big corporation with lots of other sources of revenue. This is it for us.So, jooining together gives us significantly more credibility and power" Hester told CMG. A cinema's tax status is irrelevant to the ICA -  if you're in the cinema business you can join the ICA.

In speaking with members of the ICA, it appears that availability of film on the break is their number one issue. Nothing affects independents more then film availability. According to several members, CMG spoke with, their feeling is that the advent of digital cinema was supposed to make wide distribution on the break easier because they would no longer be told there were no prints available. However, they still have to contend with the availability issue with the studios - and that's where voicing that issue as one, large group is significant.

We wish the ICA all the best and will certainly be an advocate for them. Anything CMG can do to ensure the survival and profitability of independent cinemas is at the top of our priority list.

Keep in touch,
Jim Lavorato



Monday, April 30, 2018

Cannes : Committing Suicide

Cannes: Stuck in the History of Cinema
What are they thinking? Talk about being where the puck is and not where it's going. The honchos of the Cannes Film Festival came out and stated that movie content must have a French theatrical release to be eligible for their awards - and yes, they've  gone mad!

Aimed at eliminating the on-line content streamers from competition is literally shooting yourself in the foot (no head). Netflix is spending over $8b on original content this year. Amazon, Apple, and now, Disney are producing content for on-line consumption.  The key to all of this is that consumers want, and only want, content that engages them - and they don't care where is comes from.

The Cannes Fest, and others like it, must realize that they do not have the clout they once garnered. The once great and influential festivals have become  irrelevant in the greater entertainment industry, except by the people that run them and perhaps those that benefit from them. Getting an endorsement from the Cannes Fest gets a big shrug from movie goers - the same holds-true for Toronto. Tribecca, Sundance, Teluride, etc.

The movie industry is evolving, growing, and the new mantra is providing what the consumer wants and not what the industry decides they need. And, a big part of that want is going to come from the streamers. I've said it before, movie exhibitors must embrace the streamers and look to them as an adjunct source for quality content that consumers want to engage with. Screening day-and-date with a Netflix debut is a good thing for cinemas.

The Cannes folks are wrong and give much too much importance to their impact and relevance within the movie industry.  Their heyday is over. They need to see where the puck is going if they are to have any hope of surviving.

Just saying,

Jim Lavorato



Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saudi Arabia's 35 Yr. Cinema Ban Ends

Saudi's Lift 35 Yr. Ban on Cinemas
'Black Panther' became the first commercial movie to be screened publicly in Saudi Arabia in 35 years.

The movie screened at an AMC theater in the Riyadh's King Abdullah Financial District, is the first cinema to be opened since the 35 year old ban went into affect. All of the cinemas in the Kingdom were closed in the early '80s as men and women sitting together was viewed as taboo. The government as recently relaxed enforcement of laws banning co-mingling between unrelated men and women, although it still remains a grey area.

This marks an important moment in the Kingdom's modern-day history as it is part of the country's development of an entertainment industry and its adoption of a more liberal view-point to shared recreation.

The Riyadh AMC multiplex is the first of up to 100 planned to open in the next several years. The Kingdom's plan is to have about 350 cinemas throughout the country by 2030, which are anticipated to generate over $1b in admissions each year.

Clearly, the Saudi consumer is over-due for the cinema experience and the country's adoption of modern entertainment venues will be a huge success.

Keep in touch,
Jim Lavorato

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Disney Gets Beat-up By Redbox

In a court ruling last week, Disney was found libel for committing copyright misuse. Then, quickly re-grouping, made changes in the way it licenses its content online and re-applied for a new injunction aimed at preventing Redbox from selling movie download codes.  Disney contends that Redbox is violating its copyrights by disassembling "Combo Packs" - a Blu-ray disc, a DVD, and a movie download code which can be redeemed through authorized digital outlets.

Disney lost in its first motion for a preliminary injunction against Redbox. In that case, Judge Dean Pregerson found that there was no dispute Disney couldn't prevent consumers from transferring Blu-ray discs and DVDs contained within Combo Packs. Citing a copyrights first sale doctrine that provides that someone who lawfully acquires a copyrighted work is entitled to sell or dispose of their copy.  The judge found that Disney's restrictive license terms given them "giant power beyond the scope of its copyright to works like Star Wars and Frozen. Combo Pack purchasers can not access digital movie content, for which they have already paid, without exceeding the scope of the license agreement unless they forego that right."

This whole mess puts Disney in a bad position as Redbox readies to sell a Combo Pack for Black Panther and after that all movie content.

Jim Lavorato

Saturday, April 07, 2018

MPAA Pivots - Bending To Reality

Global cinema box-office revenue hit a record $40b last year, yet U.S. admissions hit a 23 year low!

The business of H'wood is changing


Hmmm..... so what does the U.S. based Motion Picture Association of America do?  It pivots and gives a BIG HO-RAH to Netflix and other streaming services, including home entertainment spending in its annual report on the health of the movie business.

There is good reason for the pivot, considering the explosion in digital subscription services vs. the volatile cinema market and the death of DVD sales/rentals (once the major contribution to Hollywood's coffers). In 2017, global spending on cinema and home entertainment totaled $88.4b with home entertainment responsible for $48.4b of which $32.1b was digital content streaming.

The MPAA is comprised of the six major studios: Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal, and Warners all of which sell their movies to streaming services; however, they have a conflicted relationship with Netflix, which also produces original content for movies and TV productions - which will exceed $8b this year. Netflix has also irked movie exhibitors by refusing to abide by the theatrical window in trying to screen its original films at theaters - as they do at the iPic Cinemas.

The demographics of films is also changing, making traditional films (particularly non-blockbusters) irrelevant. The 25-39 age group continued to have the most frequent moviegoers followed by the 40-49 age group. Next came the 12-17 group followed by the 18-24 group. The worst stat in these numbers was that the 18-24 group's attendance was down 28% while the 12-17 group was down 22% from 2016 - not a good sign for the future.
Chuck Dodd out Charlie Rivkin in as MPAA hancho

Among ethnic groups, Hispanics were the highest, going to the movies 4.5x on average per year, followed by Asians at 4.3x.  Caucasians purchased 55% of all tickets sold, Hispanics 23%, Blacks 12%, and Asians 7% - these stats pretty much mirror the population figures of these groups.

More than 263 million N. Americans went to the cinema at least once in 2017, with ticket sales essentially split evenly between female and male moviegoers.

RECAP

- Less people (particularly the younger age groups) are going to the movies.
- Higher ticket pricing is making up for the slide in admissions - (sustainable?).
- Lots more is being spent on streaming content vs. cinema viewing
- The trend in home entertainment is: a lot more quality content will be available.

My take is that cinemas must embrace the Netflix's of the world and began to strike deals with them to screen their content as well as Hollywood's output. The studios are already doing it - why not cinemas?

Stay in touch,

Jim Lavorato

Thursday, April 05, 2018

MoviePass - How LOW Can It Go ?

CMG has been following the MoviePass saga for several years and last week it reached new heights in testing credulity.

MoviePass, the subscription-based service which offers low movie admission pricing, seems hell-bent on trying to confound, not only, the theater chains and  major film studios but anyone who has been following their quest to disrupt the long-standing cinema admission/concession pricing tradition.

The company, last week, pared another dollar off its monthly fee, so now a subscriber is entitled to one movie ticket per day for $6.95 per month!
The only catch being that users must pay for a year upfront and there is a one-time processing fee of $6.55. So, that's $89.95 to join.

It's hard for me to count the number of times MoviePass has changed its pricing scheme. When it launched, 6 years ago, the price was $40 per month. Then it was raised to $50 per month, there were several others price changes, but most significantly, 8 months ago the price was slashed to $9.95. That change had the desired effect of increasing the user rate, which ballooned from 20,000 to 3 million!

MoviePass has many critics, most notably the large cinema chains and studios which believe the service cheapens the moviegoing experience. Additionally, studio executives stress over the fact that the company will not survive (it pays mostly full price for the movie tickets it subscribers use) and believe that its users (left out in the cold) will never want to pay the regular price of admission - now averaging $9.50.

Still, MoviePass presses on, but not without competition. A company called Sinemia, which launched several years ago in Europe, recently entered the U.S. market. Sinemia provides two movie admissions for $9.99 per month and unlike MoviePass, includes IMAX and 3D screening in its offering.  But Sinemia's two tickets per month is a far cry from the 30 admissions per month MoviePass users can obtain.

It remains to be seen if either of these disruptors will turn a profit.  For its part, MoviePass is committed to its quest of eventually striking agreements with  movie exhibitors to share in their admission and concession profits as more and more of its users crowd into cinemas. So far, that hasn't happened.

MoviePass's 'burn-rate' gets higher as they get more subscribers, so they need to make deals and they need to do that quickly. Can it drop its price to $4.95 per month?  Only time will tell.

Stay in touch,
Jim Lavorato


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sabo Strikes Again and H'wood Changing Production

One of Sabo's works
Sabo, a Hollywood street artist, hijacked three billboards in Tinseltown the day prior to the Oscars and turned them into attack advertisements against the film industry for its abuses and mis-informed protests.

The Sabo inspired billboards boasted the messages:  "And the Oscar for the Biggest Pedophile Goes To" , "We All Knew and Still No Arrests", and "Name Names on Stage or Shut-the-hell-up."

The billboards, prior to Sabo's work, had paid advertisements and measured 48ft. across x 14ft. high. Sabo has attacked H'wood before with billboard take-overs but he considers this latest venture his largest artistic endeavor yet.

Over 100 men in the entertainment industry have now been publicly accused of sexual abuse and misconduct since charges were made against Harvey Weinstein 5 months age.

Sabo says, "my sign art is meant to point the finger at those that enabled sexual harassment with their silence, and to send a message to celebrities to refrain from preaching during their Oscar acceptance speeches."

Hollywood Changing It M.O.

In his new book, 'The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies' Ben Fritz, describes how Hollywood moved from the rise of the superhero film to the complete disappearance of the mid-budget adult drama.  From the hacking of Sony's corporate records to the development of on-line streaming, Fritz lays out where he believes the boxoffice is headed.

According to Fritz, and I agree, Hollywood is obsessed with funding the next global brand films - but the new franchises are no longer talent-based but concept-based.

It was not too long ago that Sony, Warners, and Universal all kept vacation villas in places like: Acapulco, Aspen, and Tuscany that stars had free access to.  But following numerous star-centric films that have been boxoffice flops over the last 5 years all of the major studios have now moved to the concept franchise over star power.  The current H'wood mantra is 'we can't make money by pushing stars and we need to stop relying on them to carry a film to big-grosses'. What has occurred is that the stars are all trying to abandon the studios (that no longer want or need them) in favor of inking deals with Netflix (which is in the throngs of developing a library of their own productions).



  Stay in touch,

Jim

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Using Fake Holidays To Drum-up Business

If you haven't noticed, there has been a surge in fake holidays. For instance, Jan.31st is National Backwards Day, March 3rd is National Puzzle Day, and today is National Baked Alaska Day.

OK, this is clearly out-of-hand but on second thought it maybe a way for a cinema to leverage these days to your advantage. Be honest, we all contribute to the Cyber Monday and Black Friday spending craze.

The whole national holiday mania started in 1908 with Mother's Day - which went mainstream when in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as the national day to honor mothers.  And that was it, over the next 70+ years we all went holiday berserk.

We now even celebrate sporting events as holidays, ie. Super Bowl Day, for which, before game day A/V equipment sales now rival those of Black  Friday!  From greeting cards to electronics, businesses take advantage of our 'holiday obsession'.

So all of you cinema owners, if you can't find a holiday that helps admissions and/or concessions latch on to one that is meaningful to your local community.  There is a Small Business Saturday, a Record Store Day, and even a National Thank You Note Day. Partner-up and cross-promote the cinema with other local businesses.

Best thing to do is create your own holiday, National Cinema Day for example. Make sure it falls on a Friday, Sat, or Sunday and use it as part of your existing loyalty program (you do have a loyalty program, right).  And who says you just need a day. What about a National Cinema Week, or better still, Month.

It's all about creative brand marketing to enhance your cinema's unique sales proposition. DO IT!

Keep in touch,
Jim

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Cinema's Need A Dose of Disruption

Disruption use to be a dirty word. It was bad to be disruptive and unconventional. Now, it's all the rage in corporate suites. The best examples are: Amazon stepping into the food market industry and now moving into the prescription drug business.  Uber being the largest taxi company in the world without owning one cab, Airbnb, now the globe's largest property renter without owning any real estate properties. Cinemas need to take a page out of the disruptor playbook and began to think and act in a manner which provides the next step in their evolution!

The term, Unique Selling Proposition, is used in Branding and Marketing to describe the one thing that sets your service or product apart from your competition and differentiate your business. Cinemas need to find their USP.  We witness this all of the time, and here are two recent examples:

Starbucks keeps evolving, improving, and (most importantly) engaging their customers. The latest USP from the java giant is the Reserve Store. The first Reserve recently opened at Starbuck's headquarters in Seattle - which is the precursor of 1,000 Reserve Stores that are planned throughout the U.S. and other countries.
On premises bakery

Starbucks Reserve Store is massive
The Store (called a store because of It is constructed as a large open market, similar to Eataly in NYC (if  you go to NYC a visit to Eataly is a must). A host of items will be served-up at the Reserve Stores, including: branded coffee, special drinks, on-premises full-blown bakery, all sorts of food items, and alcoholic drinks.

The point of all this is that Starbucks doesn't rest on it past success - in fact, the Reserve Store will be the fifth addition to their evolving customer-centric business model. An addition to its regular cafes, their Reserve Roasteries, Reserve Bars, and Express retail stores - Reserve Stores combine all five concepts into a single location - as all things Starbucks.

Another perfect example of disruption is witness by Ekoplaza, a food-store chain in Amsterdam, which is drastically reducing the use of plastic in food packaging (and starting, what I believe will be a major trend for all food stores in the very near future). Ekoplaza has started a plastic-free section of their stores which includes hundreds of products which are sold in recyclable glass, metal, and cardboard packaging. This will be a big winner for Ekoplaza as this concept is very consumer friendly and meets the wants of many shoppers for a plastic-free environment.

These are two examples of companies that are evolving and pushing the envelope in their respective markets. Cinemas need to do the same and institute a dose of disruption into their operations.

Just saying,

Jim Lavorato


Studios Take Big Hit on 'Their Piracy'

Last Wednesday, Disney, Fox, and Paramount received a legal blow in a case whereby the three studios were charged with having used stolen graphics effects programs in production in many of their biggest super hero films.

The U.S. Circuit Court rejected the studios' copyright argument when sued by Rearden LLC, a Silicon Valley firm, for the illegal use of its motion-capture technology, know as the MOVA Contour Program. MOVA captures and tracks the 3D shapes of the human face with great precision. Rearden attorneys argued that the software program's output can be owned by the programmers instead of the end user if the program does the 'lion's share' of the process required.  The studios argued that there was substantial creative input by directors and actors to change the program - but the Court wasn't buying into this defense.
MOVA System best for facial recognition

Keep in mind that copyright laws in the U.S. protect original works of authorship while trademarks protect words, phrases, and designs that identify the source of goods and services.   


Judge Tigar ruled that Disney and Fox's use of the MOVA system trademark made in movie credits lead viewers to believe that Rearden endorsed the movie - which it did not!  The Court further stipulated that the MOVA system (used in the making of blockbusters, such as 'Guardians of the Galaxy', 'Deadpool', 'Beauty and the Beast', 'Fantastic Four', 'Terminator: Genisys', and many others) without Rearden's permission or endorsement.  This is a big problem for the studios. The defending studios stated that they would be appealing the verdict.

We will see more of this type of  law suit in the future as more and more of movie production uses simulated scenes and digital programming made outside of  Hollywood's control

Jim Lavorato




Wednesday, February 21, 2018

2018 Off To A Great Start

Living up to all of its hype, 'Black Panther' grossed an astounding $340m in N. American over the 4 day, President's Day Holiday weekend.
Starting 2018 Off Right

The movie carries a $200m production cost and an additional $85m in marketing so Disney/Marvel always considered it a tent-pole title - but they didn't expect the grosses the 'Panther' generated (its total gate for the weekend was over $430 globally). The movie will have good legs and carry exceptional grosses over the next several weeks.

The best news, it pushed 2018's YTD domestic gross (at $1.65b) up 6.9% over 2017's performance - not bad and we're not even through February.

The concept of a 'Black Panther' movie was originally touted by Wesley Snipes in 1992 but the project never got traction and Snipes then moved on to the 'Blade' and sequels.

Disney/Marvel was smart in marketing 'Black Panther' as pre-release they had partnered-up with the NFL, Lexus, PepsiCo, Unilever, the NBA and others. Special trailers were even produced for the Chinese market.  The movie has averaged an approval rating of 8.3 out of 10 and there were over 560 thousand Tweets on day one of release, twice the number that 'The Last Jedi' garnered. There are already several sequels planned.

So, as predicted in these pages, 2018 looks like it's shaping-up to be a stellar year.

Keep in touch,
Jim

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Top Movie Franchises

Movie franchises are the life-blood of  the movie industry. Generating mega-bucks above and beyond their box office grosses these money machines have huge fan bases that purchase any and everything  franchise associated. From costumes to a vast array of collectible merchandise the biggest franchises even have their own theme parks and can last for decades with numerous sequels or prequels.

So which are the best and biggest movie franchises. According to a poll by Variety the top 15 all-time biggest franchises, so far, are:

  1. Star Wars (Disney building Star Wars Land - Disneyland, CA
  2. James Bond (the longest running)
  3. Batman (more actors playing the lead than any other franchise)
  4. Lord of The Rings (Shire theme park to open this year in Spain
  5. Rocky
  6. Fast & Furious (Universal's biggest with 8 and counting)
  7. Mission Impossible (theme park in London to open in 2021)
  8. Harry Potter (own theme park)
  9. Ironman (3 with Avengers' films)
  10. Lethal Weapon
  11. X-Men (sequels, prequels, and reboots)
  12. Pirates of the Caribbean (theme park in Shanghai)
  13. Spider Man (most reboots)
  14. Indiana Jones
  15. Die Hard
Waiting in the wings: Avatar (already has theme park). Now, imagine a Disney-Marvel 'Super' theme park with Ironman, Spider-man, Thor, Captain America, X-Men, and Avengers attractions.

Best,
Jim


Marketing Your Cinema With Social Media

Are you marketing your cinema on one or more of the social platforms? If the answer is NO, you should take a look at doing so.

Cinemas Need To Use Social Media 
All of the social platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, Tweeter, and others  offer advertising options. The best thing about advertising on a social platform is that it is very inexpensive. An ad on Facebook is about $30, so budgeting just $200-300 per month will allow for multiple ads. Comparing this to traditional advertising it is a fraction of the cost.

Additionally, social media allows you to select which demographic you want targeted. This provides you a rifle vs. shotgun approach to reach potential customers. For example, you can choose age, sex, and geographic area - therefore your ads will appear only on the Facebook pages of those particular people. That's nice because your ads will be targeting only those consumers in your  local community.

When using a social platform for advertising use both text and videos in your ads, this is important, as social platforms prefer the use of videos, pictures, and graphics. This allows you to have great leeway in who your ads are targeting.

Special screenings, concession deals, merchandise offerings, loyalty discounts, coming attractions,
the opportunities are endless for ads to promote your cinema the 'social way'. Do It!

Keep in touch,
Jim

Friday, February 09, 2018

AMC Gets Sold.... AGAIN

This week the Wanda Group, a Chinese conglom that owns the AMC theater circuit, sold a $1.2b stake in the exhib to the Alibaba Group (the Amazon of China).  No real details for the sale were given but AMC reported a $210 million loss through the 3rd quarter of 2017. Its share price has dropped from a high of $31.85 at the start of 2017 to $14.20 as of yesterday.  Alibaba may have thought that at a $14 price the investment was worth it.

In addition to decreased admissions, AMC has been in a battle with MoviePass, a subscription based cinema admission service that offers one movie ticket a day to customers which use its Red Card service for $9.95 per month.  AMC blasted MoviePass, and has been moving forward with legal action. MoviePass's goal is to have exhibs share their admission and concession sales with them because they are bringing more people into theaters - AMC views this profit sharing scheme as a non-starter.

AMC had received at least six offers of purchase over the last three months but Wanda settled upon Alibaba's offer.

Keep in touch,

Jim

Monday, January 29, 2018

Bigger Isn't Better In Movie Exhibition : Regal Gets Gobbled

BIG ISN'T BETTER!
AMC, the second largest cinema chain in the U.S. went to Chinese conglom Wanda Group, making Wanda the largest chain in the world with over 11,000 screens. Now it Regal Entertainment, the largest U.S. chain, being taken over by the Cineworld crew for a cool $3.6b, making Cineworld the globe's second largest chain with over 9,500 screens (Regal having 7,315).

Paying $23 per share for Regal, a premium of over $7 a share from its 2017 average price. Cineworld believes big is better in the movie exhibition game, but is it?  Recent poor box office grosses attest to the fact that entertainment seekers aren't enthused with the current cinema experience.

We, are Cinema Mucho Gusto (CMG) have always believed that, going forward, cinemas would have no choice but to lock arms with the major web content streamers and run day-and-date content that had big-screen/big sound appeal.

Cinemas, over the past decade, have responded to lower admissions by adding enticements such as, better seating, loyalty programs, enhanced food and drink options, and improved viewing options with larger screens and improved sound - but all those enticement came with higher admission pricing - and all for nought.

For example, Cinemark, another large U.S. chain, recently introduced the 'Movie Club' program. Under this incentive, a patron pays $8.99 for one ticket per month over the course of a year. Regal, experimented with a concept of charging more for an admission during peak hours and less at lighter attendance times.

I believe these schemes are not a solution to the problem of low attendance. People want GOOD CONTENT - a high-impact or animated film with a good storyline, and great effects, offered in a clean and safe environment with 'cinema food' and a great on-screen image and sound - that's IT!

All of these loyalty programs and admission pricing schemes are meaningless and will not bring in more eyeballs.  Gourmet burgers, flatbreads, gelato, sushi, and alcoholic beverages are not going to entice consumers to visit a cinema.

Just saying,

Jim Lavorato

Sunday, January 14, 2018

THE 'SCOOP' by Seymour Flix

Sundance Fest Clamps Down On Misbehavior
Park City during Sundance Festibal


Because of increasing assault and sexual harassment incidents the Sundance Film Festival, the Festival's Directors decided to introduce new conduct rules to protect festivalgoers.  In partnership with Attorney Generals Office of Utah a new 24 hour hot-line was established to report any violations of the law.

This year's Fest run from January 18th -28th in Park City, Utah.  The Sundance Institute, which oversees the Festival (which was  founded by Robert Redford) stated that it is 'committed to allowing attendees to experience the Festival free of harassment, discrimination, sexism, and threatening or disrespectful behavior.'  It further stated, that it, 'reserves the right to revoke, without notice or refund, credentials or access to Festival events and venues for those who engage in such conduct.

So, if you attend the Festival and experience or witness any such behavior call 801-834-1944.

'SHAZAM'

Warner Bros. DC Comics will bring out new superhero 'Shazam' next year. This year is all about 'Black Panther' and 'Aqua Man'  But next year Warner's is betting on Shazam as the next big superhero idol.  Shazam is an acronym of the ancient gods and historical figures; Solmoman, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus. Achilles, and Mercury.

Wonder Woman, which grossed over $800 million w.w., will debut a sequel next year with a release date of 11/1/2019 and is looking to repeat the first film's gross.

AMC Slapped With Lawsuit

AMC Entertainment was slapped with a class action law suit last Friday, charging that the planet's largest movie exhibitor, misled investors about the seasonal nature of box office trends.

AMC, stated in court papers that 'our business is highly seasonal, with higher attendance and revenues generally occurring during the summer months and holiday seasons".  But the plaintiffs claim the AMC disclosure  disclosure is "materially inaccurate" because AMC's newly acquired international operations experience lower attendance during the summer months.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in New York states that AMC misled by failing to disclose prior to its acquisition of Carmike (a smaller theater circuit).  AMC did not comment on the lawsuit; however, its shares are down more than 50% over the year.