Popular Posts

Thursday, September 29, 2011

WEEKLY CineBUZZ REPORT - 29 September 2011

Box Office Update

There is no point to recapping last weekend's box office as it was a mirror image of the prior week with Lion King 3D topping the chart.

The U.S. box office continues to stumble through September at stall speed so it is a good bet that the folks are waiting for the big holiday grossers before returning and as we move into award season.  So, I'll concentrate on the future instead of the past.

This upcoming weekend (9/30) will see the release of 50/50 - a comedy which should do a respectable amount of business, Courageous - a feel-good, faith-based flix which will not click, Dream House - a good horror/ murder drama (with for real newly weds Daniel Craig and Rachel  Weisz) will also do respectable business, and finally, What's Your Number - a comedy cum chick flix ala Bridesmaids which may be the big winner this weekend, as the folks need a good laugh.

Moving forward, October and November offer up more comedies and a few , yes, we know they are going to gross big, films.

10/7 weekend

Ides of March - Clooney in a political drama with a great supporting cast has real box office potential.  Restless - a romantic tear-jerker offers little hope, Wonderlust - comedy about urban couple that goes counter-culture may have a little steam, and The Way - drama directed by Estevez that stars father Sheen, I don't think it will work at the b.o.

10/14 weekend

The Big Year - this comedy about bird watching w/ Black, Martin, and Wilson will be a big grosser in fact the TV marketing has already started.
Footloose, a redo of 80's hit with a twist could be a sleeper, The Thing, a prequel to the '82 thriller may also have appeal. So this weekend will be the best in quite awhile.

10/21 weekend

Dirty Girl - a coming of age drama set in '87 could have potential and if good will have word-of-mouth push, Paranormal Activity 3 - a Halloween scary and 3rd installment for the horror mini franchise will pull them in, and The Three Musketeers - old story, new faces, for me a no-go. 

10/28 weekend

The Skin I Live In - drama about plastic surgeon and use of synthetic skin, will be ok earner, Anonymous - who was William Shakespeare (he/she) who knows, a great cast, could do ok for a few weeks, In-Time - sci-fi about aging and immortality for sale, not much potential here, Johnny English Reborn - Mr. Bean as secret agent, no real draw here, Martha Marey May Marlene - drama with good cast and Academy considerations, may do very well even with long ambiguous title, and finally Safe - high-impacter with Jason Statram (who seems to be in every other film) which will do very well.

11/4 weekend

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas - a sequel to the very popular film picks up where the last H & K left off only six years later, it will do business, Puss in Boots, Shrek character gets top billing in this animated comedy that will be great b.o., Tower Heist, thriller/comedy with big cast that will also pull them in.  This will be a big b.o. weekend.

11/11 weekend

The prior weekend flixs will still be doing very well and adding to those will be J.Edgar - bio on FBI's first chief cook and bottle washer, really not much interest but you never know, Jack and Jill - Thanksgiving comedy with very good cast, this will do well.

11/18 weekend

Happy Feet Two - penguins always do well and this should not disappoint. The Twilight Saga - Breaking Dawn Part 1 - a big one and next to last installment in this very successful franchise.  This will be another great b.o. weekend.

Lets stop here and save the last half of November and the December releases to later. Comedies will rule over the next 6 weeks and from the looks of things will be much better than the last 6.

Best and Happy Movie Going !
Jim Lavorato

Saturday, September 24, 2011

THE CINEMA of 2015 - Part # 1

 - What will the cinema of 2015 look like? 
 Will cinemas still enjoy an exclusive release window for movies?
 - How will cinemas compete in the post PC era ?
 - What business model will ensure a cinema's success?

In my capacity as a media consultant I have been asking myself these and other questions regarding the cinema, and have come to believe that they not only need answers but that they are time critical.

In this first of a four part series on the Cinema 2015 I'm going to provide perspective on the current landscape of the industry, and insight into what moviegoers will demand in the future.


Currently the cinema is split into two very distinct areas: the U.S. vs. rest of world.


The plunge in movie ticket sales over the last eight years in the U.S. is a very disturbing trend given an increasing populace coupled with Hollywood's re-introduction and intense marketing of 3D.  This decline in admissions evidences a real dissatisfaction by the public who no longer consider a visit to the local cinema a value-based entertainment activity.

From its 2002 peak at 1.56 billion admissions, U.S. ticket sales have steadily trended down to where 2010's 1.34 billion admissions were 220 million below the '02 peak.  In contrast, over the same period the average ticket price rose from $5.81 to $7.89 or 36% as box office grosses increased from $9.10 billion to $10.57 billion.   Therefore the upward glide in box office gate. over the last decade, is solely attributable to higher base admission prices coupled with the recent 30-40% admission up-charge for 3D movies.


In sharp contrast to the domestic market, the international cinema has increased by a breath taking 30% in just the last 4 years and totalled over $21.2 billion in 2010. This represented 67% of the global total and it is anticipated to exceed over 70% this year.

I estimate that the international box office, will grow at a compound rate of 5% through 2015 and by then represent over 73% of worldwide box office, as the U.S. remains static. However, the reasons for the international growth are fueled by economic and not structural dynamics, such as the: 

 - On-going globalization of the world economies
 - Economic strength in emerging markets
 - Only 5% of  world population is in U.S.
 - Earnings are growing 5x faster in overseas markets

So,  even though there will be growth internationally the public's perception of  "going to the movies" is changing.

There have been numerous studies and extensive research conducted on the public's perception of the movie going experience.  Polling conducted by groups as diverse as the Motion Picture Association of America to Coca Cola have evidenced the public's sentiments which are endemic to all markets.  For example, the Mitel Company, Ltd., a London-based consumer research group, published a study in May 2011 on the views of British consumers regarding the cinema. The study found that:

- 87%  of consumers believe movie concession is overpriced.
- 76% believe admission pricing is too high.
- 59% indicated they would go to the cinema more if prices were lower.
- 51% wait for the DVD or pay-for-view releases for home viewing.
- 43% prefer watching movies at home.

These sentiments are stunning and reflect a universal belief that the current movie going experience is under-whelming and over-priced and highlight a growing tendency by consumers to view movies in more convenient and less expensive ways.  The in-home movie viewing experience is getting better and more immersive and when coupled with the virtual explosion in content streaming the future of cinema exhibition does not support a steady state business model.

Moviegoers are very specific in their cinema attendance, which is highly skewed toward specific genres: action/fantasy, animation, and comedic films. For example, over the last 5 years the top 10 films averaged over 30% of the annual U.S. box office -   but these films represented only 2% of the total released. This skewing is also seen in the international market where, over the last 5 years, the top ten films accounted for 26% of total box office.

Even more pronounced, the top 25 films averaged a whopping 42% of the U.S. and 40% of the overseas box office over the last 5 years!  Film releases over the same period averaged 580 per year.

To win you have to be on the right side of changeYou must start projects the second you see disruptive potential - and you should be seeing this now in the cinema industry

Cinemas require a new business model that, for example, embraces modern sales and marketing techniques.  Currently, cinemas charge the same price for all movies.  Well, movies are products and like all other products are not created equal and their admission pricing should reflect this. Avatar and the 45th version of Harry meets Sally should not have the same price tag.

In short, the Cinema of 2015 will need to offer consumers a unique out-of-home entertainment experience, which must be centered around 5 must haves: quality, convenience, participation, value, and sensory stimulus.

In the next installment of Cinema 2015, I will discuss what current and future technologies are going to impact the cinema and if there is going to be a cinema - as we now know it - in the future.

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WEEKLY CineBUZZ REPORT - 21 September 2011

Does the Lion really Roar ?

Given accolades and big back slaps by movie industry websites, bloggers, and critics - with statements like "completely shatters box office" - the Lion King 3D (Disney), a 1994 re-release up scaled to 3D, motored to the number  one box office spot with a $30 million weekend take.

 I took a different view. To me the Lion's kitty like triumph demonstrated what a pathetic state the U.S. mainstream box office is in.  The new releases were all dismal earners. Drive (Film District) grossed $11 million (cost $38 million), Straw Dogs pulled in a measly $5 million (cost $47 million), and I Don't Know How She Does It (Weinstein) - which should have been titled I Don't Know Why They Made This - grossed $4.7 million (cost not reported).

In fact the weekend was so bad the top ten movies could only muster a frigid $80 million total gross, and the top 25 less than $125 million !  September has been a month of movie no-shows.
The folks are just not interested in viewing the "re's" - re-runs, re-releases, re-makes.  One movie website stated, "new releases take hit" from Lion King 3D.  Come on. The Lion King demo is not even remotely related to the demo that Drive, Straw Dogs, or the chick flix with the long title would draw.
Year-to-date the U.S. cinema's gross is down a tad over 4% or about $330 million, but this performance is built upon an average admission price that has increased over 5% since 2010.
We say once again, to get volume the movie exhibition industry must adopt a tiered pricing regime. Not all movies should carry the same price tag - it's a 70+ year old marketing policy that needs to be upgraded not re-released.

International Box Office the Real Roarer !

The Smurfs continued to rule most overseas markets and was the box office topper again.  The Smurfs has now earned over $321 million overseas and $457 worldwide.
It is interesting to watch the polarization between the U.S. vs. rest of world box office.  The international box office could very will top 70% of the total, with the U.S., for the first time, garnering less than 30%.

Other News
Look for the September 25th premier of  "The Cinema 2015" - a special Cinema Mucho Gusto series on the future of the cinema industry.

Best and Happy Movie Going !
Jim Lavorato

Friday, September 16, 2011


Where do you leave your digital footprint on a daily basis?

Answer:  All over the planet if you're using any of the following: SmartPhone, Social Network (ie.Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Sina), Search Engine (ie. Google, Bing, Baidu), 
Music Forum  (iTunes etc.), Media Streaming, Video Download (Pay-per-view), Photo Sharing Sites, On-line Gaming, eReader and On-line Purchases.

Not only do you leave your footprint but you leave information about your needs, desires, and motivators, in addition to your age, gender,  facial characteristics, income level, race, and other very valuable information and data about yourself.  This info is shared, mined, and stored (indefinitely) and used to market, sell, and promote products and services which are personalized and customized to your particular set of  characteristics.  You know, it's the "since you bought this book, you might also be interested in this stool and rope" or something like that. 

So, if you think you are "under the wire", think again.. And the more you use the internet the more data is available on you, your environment, social circles, etc. etc.  It's not Big Brother it's Big Marketing.  You see  promotions and ads  in emails to you, your favorite sites, on your searches, etc. and they are all saying one thing to you - GIVE ME YOUR MONEY !

Your Footprints Aren't Yours

Yes, all of those pics, tweets, posts, and emails you so fastidiously spent time on are not yours in death.  That's right,  unless they are copyrighted, your heirs have no right to your (in the cloud) "property".  Hmmmm, so all of those great pics you had on Shutter Fly are resident on  a lifeless server in the digital domain for eternity - but no one has access to them.  The Cloud is good, but like all clouds,  eventually vanishes into thin air and you are left with nothing.

There are on-going legal battles to determine what an individual's cyber rights to their musings, pics, and other information (personal or otherwise) might be after death, but as it stands right now there are no legal rights to that property.

Moral of the story.  If you have something you want to keep for value or personal reasons don't put it in cyber space.   Now, where is my old Kodak 35mm camera and film?

Best and Happy Movie Going!
Jim Lavorato

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

WEEKLY CineBUZZ REPORT - 12 September 2011

Getting It Right

I'm in Singapore this week and the local cineplexes are exhibiting a buffet of films which reflect the cultural diversity of this city/state. 

U.S. distributed first runners Contagion and The City of Final Destination share the marquee with The Smurfs, Cars 2, Spy Kids, Crazy Stupid Love, Final Destination 5, Glee 3D, Bad Teacher, and Horrible Bosses.   Also showing are Hong Kong distributed first runners: Love in Space and My Kingdom.  Bollywood is also represented with: Mankatha, Meet Brother Ki Dulhan, and Bodyguard.

The cinema in Singapore is vibrant and like the cuisine, influenced by its multi-cultural populace which makes it the best in the world.

U.S. in Box Office Doldrums

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and coming after the Labor Day holiday the folks were not in the mood for movie going and the marquee didn't offer much enticement anyway.

Contagion (Warners)  put the plague on The Help (Disney) - which by holding the number one B.O. spot for 3 week running clearly indicated how very weak the end-of-summer release schedule is.
So, as it now stands, exhibitors nervously pace for even one box office producer, and that wait could still be several weeks away given this month's release calendar.  My predicts:

 Producers: Killer Elite, Drive, Lion King 3D, Dolphin Tale, Dream House, Moneyball
Potential Earners: Section 7, I Don't Know How She Does It, Restless, Straw Dogs
Possible Sleeper: Puncture
No Showers: Margaret, Stay Cool,  Pearl Jam 20, 50/50, Courageous

Best and Happy Movie Going !
Jim Lavorato

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Merlion - Symbol of Singapore
The Merlion is the symbol of Singapore and one that is very apropos for this country of can-dos. Emerging from the sea  and developed with next to no natural resources - except its people -Singapore has the heart of a lion.

With 5 million citizens, Singapore sits at the tip of the Malay peninsula in Southeast Asia and is one of the most modern and dynamic cities in the world and, I'm glad to report, has a very vibrant cinema.

Cathay Cineplexes is the foremost cinema group in Singapore and is managed and operated better then most cinemas in the U.S.  They boast a very competent, young, and vibrant staff  utilizing the latest technologies and marketing techniques -  which makes my job as cinema consultant much harder but also much more rewarding.

Platinum Lounge and Auditorium Seating                              

For example, their prime location, The Cathay Cinema, in collaboration with American Express, recently debuted the Platinum Movie Suites concept in movie viewing. The venue offers a separate box office, access to a private lounge where a variety of food and beverages (above and beyond the normal cinema's concession offerings) are available, use of Web-enabled WiFi iPads, butler service, and even blankets for use during the show, if desired.

 When the movie program is about to start you are ushered to your reserved seat (there are no bad seats is the auditorium) where your concession items are served to you.  The seats are  powered and can go to a full recline position. During the presentation you can order off a menu provided simply by pressing the attendant button (who discretely and silently will take and then serve your order)  The seating is arranged such that this service does not bother the other patrons.

The auditorium boasts top-of-the line projection and sound systems. This is premier movie viewing and certainly not for every one's taste, but it may be the wave of the future as cinema's will need to complete for that out of home movie viewing experience as content streaming gains in popularity. 

The up-charge for the Platinum service ranges from $14-24/person but after experiencing it I can tell you it is worth every cent of the extra charge as it takes the movie viewing experience to another level of enjoyment.

Cathay Cineplexes of Singapore could be showing us the future of cinema. My guess is that we are going to see more of these luxury movie going concepts in addition to main stream cinemas but without question, the business model for movie exhibitors to be successful is changing and we are going to see a vastly different cinema in the future.

Best and Happy Movie Going !
Jim Lavorato