Popular Posts

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,


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,

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,

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.


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,

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,


Monday, January 29, 2018

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

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.


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.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

ALL IN THE FAMILY - The Golden Globes

Hollywood - Back in Black
The Scene: The Golden Globes Awards Show. The audience dressed in black to signify the death of sexual perversion in Tinseltown that has been going on since the concept of the film studio was conceived.

The Goal: To demonstrate to the world that H'wood has put the issue of sexual misconduct within its ranks to death.  Although no names of the most recent sex perverts were mentioned during the long diatribes doled out by the Award recipients we can all rest assured that all is right in the world of make-believe. 

With gross admissions down domestically 6% I would have thought that the mourning would have been about last year's poor cinema performance - which is even worse given the fact that higher admission prices 'pushed' the boxoffice to that record decline! I truly believe that filmmakers and actors have no concept of what profound changes are taking place within their industry.

Instead of apologizing for the long-term abuse against women what we got was a confession and absolution by the glitterati  for themselves.  All topped-off  by a semi-political speech by Oprah that was an obvious deflection needed to shield the H'crowd from a true coming clean of the ingrained perversion within the industry.

Until H'wood's old guard is replaced (along with its ideologically biases) the U.S. box office will continue to falter and gravitate more and more to a few (very few) movies making the bulk of the ever withering box office.

It's ironic to note that the top three grossing films of 2017 all featured a female lead - 'Star Wars - The Last Jedi" - Daisy Ridley, 'Wonder Woman' - Gal Gadot, and 'Beauty and the Beast' - Emma Watson. 

Hollywood not only needs but is begging for new blood among its creative types - filmmakers who understand the wants of today's moviegoers. The old guard directors and actors have shown time and time again that they just can't cut it any longer.

Just saying,

Jim Lavorato

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

2017 Box Office: 'OUT With A BANG'

After a dismal summer and lackluster fall the winter was stellar and the 2017 box office went out with a BANG!

Led by Disney, and 'The Last Jedi'  (which tallied over $1 billion worldwide in just three weeks after its release) the domestic 2017 box office ended at $11.1 billion. This performance was only 2.3% off  2016 record results. Internationally, the box office was up 6% over 2016, and generated huge numbers, led by the Chinese cinema.
2018's Aquaman will be box office superstar.

I am optimistic about 2018 which will see a new 'Avengers', 'Solo: A Star Wars Story', 'Aquaman',  'Fantastic Beasts', and others there is plenty for movie theaters to feel good about. However, cinemas must began in earnest to diversify there product mix.  They must deliver-up a varied mix of content and not just rely on Hollywood produced films.

The need for delivering an experience is essential. Plan for the inevitable day-and-date release of movies and devise content programs that are varied.  Hollywood movies, indie products, TV content, and original product from the streamers via deals with the likes of Netflix and Amazon is the only way for cinemas to prosper and not just get by.

The days of increasing your box office take by raising ticket prices is over, as is, the pushing of concession to ridiculous price points. It is all about volume now (and  in the future) - it's about filling seats for all screenings and making the 'experience' of going to your cinema at the top of peoples' recreation list 

Stay in touch,
Jim Lavorato