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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Mad Max 'Crazy' Vehicles To Be Auctioned

 You knew it had to happen. Now, you too can play at being Mad Max, as 13 of the 'crazy' modified and chopped vehicles from 'Mad Max: Fury Road" are up for sale and going to the highest bidder.


Lloyds Classic Car Auctions will be auctioning off the post-apocalyptic vehicles. Blown, super-turbo charged and armed to the bumpers the machines that outran the end of civilization have been unearthed in the biggest barn-find ever. 

Termed, vehicles from hell, and designed for death and destruction all of the iconic vehicles from the film will be up for grabs. Even, The Doof Wagon, known in the film as the 'morale machine' that was used to rally troops and shown with mounted drummers and a fire-breathing electric guitar.\

Bidders will have just two days, September 25th & 26th, to make their secret bids. Winning bids can be paid in any currency including Bitcoins. Shipping is extra.

These are over-the-top rat rods and a piece of H'wood history.

Box Office Rebounds 68% Over 2020 Results

 Worldwide box office totalled $12b at August's end. That was the total reported in the full year 2020. At the current pace, 2021 will end the year at over $20b. That great!


On the flip-side, that performance will be over 50% below the $42.3b record set in 2019. But, the cinema is on the mend and barring any unforeseen mega-strain of the COVID should return to the $40+b level in 2022.

This forecast is well-founded and would place China as the world's largest box office. The pandemic and other political conditions, however, have made China's cinema industry much more insular and an increasingly difficult place for Hollywood to do business. 

At the end of 2020, only 56% of cinemas were opened for business on a global basis as governments responded to second and third waves of the virus by shuttering cinemas. At the beginning of September, this year, 88% of global cinemas were in operation. This was equal to the pre-pandemic peak in 2021.

The cinema is coming back and in a big way. I predict that the global box office will exceed forecasts and reach the $45b level.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Paw Patrol - Where To Watch It?

 Its first big-screen debut, the very popular children's TV series opened yesterday at cinemas. Movie distribution is in a state of chaos right now. Running at cinemas? Streamed? Both? Time wait to streaming? At cinemas, only, 


Multi viewing venues

So, where do I view Paw Patrol right now?

The 85-minute movie was released yesterday - 8/20/21 - day-and-date with Paramount +.  It is not available on Netflix or HBOMAX. The Johansson lawsuit will put a damper on this maneuver. Paramount+ was launched in March 2021. It cost $4.49/month and $49/yr. with ads, or $9.99/month and $99.99/year without ads. 


CMG Follow Up Story: Disney v. Johansson

 

Scarlett, Leading the Way to a Showbiz Upheaval

I have been covering this story from its inception and it has taken a twist I hadn't anticipated.

Disney has filed a motion to force Johansson into private arbitration to address the two parties' dispute over payment for the 'Black Widow' movie. Disney's position is that there is nothing in the Disney contract with Johansson that entitles her to any proceeds from streaming revenues of the movie.

Scarlett's attorneys have argued that Marvel's (owned by Disney) general counsel affirmed in 2019 that the "film would be released like all of our other pictures." Further, the suit was filed against Disney, not Marvel. 

For their part, Johansson's attorneys contend that the suit was filed because Disney and not Marvel interfered with Marvel's contract with Scarlett in order to boost its streaming channel Disney+.

"Why is Disney so afraid of litigating this case in public? stated John Berlinski, Johansson's lead attorney. "Because Disney knows it cannibalized box office receipts by the day-and-date release of the film at cinemas and on Disney+."

Now we wait to see what happens to the motion for arbitration.




Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Wick: You Either Love It of Hate It

I really enjoy viewing the John Wick film series. Wick (aka Baba Yaga) portrayed by Keaue Reeves returns next year in 'John Wick: Chapter 4'. The not-kid-friendly Wick is currently in production and, as always, under some secrecy. 


 We do know that Clancy Brown will be in the next installment but we don't know if he will be a baddie or good guy. Best known for his 'Shawshank Redemption' role, Brown has appeared in numerous films, TV shows, and voice-over roles in movies and video games.

 Clancy Brown, 62

Reappearing in 'Chapter 4' will be Ian McShane as Winston, Lance Reddick as Charon, and Laurence Fishburne as Bowery King.

'John Wick: Chapter 4' is scheduled for a May '22 release.




The Mouse Fires Back at The Widow

 As a follow-up to last week's post on the legal dispute between Disney and Scarlett Johansson regarding the profits split from The Black Widow film, the battle escalated this week.


Johansson continues to lead the charge on the movie industry's short-changing the stars on the release of movies on both the silver screen and stream on a day-and-date basis. Just in the past two weeks, Disney released 'Jungle Cruise' in tandem at cinemas and on Disney+. Warners did the same with 'The Suicide Squad' on HBO Max.

According to Disney's legal beagles' language in Johansson's contract claims it is the prerogative of the studio to decide how best to release a new film. However, the star's legal team claims Disney's decision to put 'The Black Widow' prequel on Disney+ cost her bonuses that would have been hit if the movie only had an exclusive theatrical window. There have been talks between the two sides but nothing has been agreed to and the battle continues.

This case is being closely followed by all sides of the industry, as it is the first time a star is pushing back on the simultaneous release scheme - which seems to benefit the studio at the cost of the actor. The Screen Actors Guild is siding with Johansson. In a press release, SAG stated, "We are deeply concerned by the gendered tone of Disney's criticism of Ms. Johansson. Women are not "callous" when they stand up and fight for fair pay - they are leaders and champions for economic parity."

Whatever the outcome, this case will set a precedent of how upcoming films will handle the profit sharing.

 


Monday, August 02, 2021

The Rich Sue The Richer: Scarlett Sues Disney Over Streaming $$$

 The big uproar is H'wood at the moment is the fact that the A-listers aren't getting their fair share of the 'entire' box office gross.


The most recent example is Scarlett Johansson, who picked up a $20 million paycheck for 'Black Widow' says she deserves more! According to Johansson, Disney owes her big time. This stems from the battle regarding H'wood stars getting paid when movies are released and streamed day-and-date, as was 'Black Widow'. 

Scarlett's contract calls for her to get a salary plus a share of the gross box office, but with streaming from Disney+,  Disney says no dice. Compensation is only from the theatrical release.

Netflix, for example, side-steps this issue by paying big bucks up front. Disney, however, views it differently and feels actors should be paid a salary plus box office take.

This whole scenario is a lose/lose. The outcome will be something like this: Disney will settle with Johansson. Otherwise, it will find itself being sued by actors again and again. On the flip side, Scarlett appears greedy and not superhero-ish.

It's all great fun - isn't it?  

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Avatar 2 - Will It Break The Box Office Record?

 


'Avengers: Endgame' surpassed James Cameron's 'Avatar' as the highest-grossing film of all time at $2.79b (vs. $2.78b for 'Avatar' - note: its total was enhanced due to a re-release).


The sequel, 'Avatar 2: The Way of Water' is scheduled for a December 2021 holiday release. Then 'Avatar 3, 4, and 5 are set for 2023, 2025, and 2027 releases.

We all hope A2 will be as successful as the A1 and soars at the box office.


Cinema Industry Fights Back!

 'Black Widow' rocked the box office at an $80m debut weekend in the U.S. and scored the biggest gate since the pandemic struck. Opening in 4,160 screens it posted the largest box office since 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' in December 2019.

This performance demonstrated that consumers are ok with the idea of returning to cinemas - as in the U.S., 76% polled that they are now comfortable going back.

Disney went with a hybrid release. The 'Widow' opened in cinemas day-and-date with Disney+ streaming (for a $30 surcharge). This added $30m to surpass a $100m opening. 

Marvel fans, superhero fans, and critics all raved about the film. Exiting polling was a 4.5 out of 5 overall.

The 'Widow' was a great success for Disney and exhibitors as it demonstrated that moviegoing is returning and in a BIG way. 'F9' has generated over $541m globally. 'A Quiet Place - II' has gated $258m and 'Cruella' $205m. Moviegoing is back! The industry is recoiling and the second half of 2021 should be steller at the box office. 

As of July 7th, Comscore has reported that 90% of cinemas around the world are now open. According to a Comscore press release, "As the studios continue to ramp up the rollout of their most anticipated films, audiences are showing up at their local cinemas to enjoy the big screen experience."


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Mouse Moves From 'Golden' to 'Sunshine State'

 California, the Golden State, is losing its luster. More and more people and companies are moving out of CA and into other, more 'friendly', states. CA lost over 136,000 residents in 2020. 

                                               Walt Disney and Pals

Disney has decided to transfer over 2,000 jobs to Florida. A new 'campus' near Orlando is now open and ready to receive the Californians. The plan to move these high-salaried jobs has been in the works since 2019.

Florida offers a great climate, a lower cost of living, a safer environment, no state income tax, to name several reasons for the move. Employees will have 18 months to make the move. 

In a letter, Josh D'Amaro, Head of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products stated, "In addition to Florida's business-friendly climate, the new campus gives us the opportunity to consider our team and be more collaborative from a creative and operational standpoint." 

Disney employs over 203,000 worldwide of which over 60,000 are in Florida.

                                   Epcot Center at Disney World, Florida

Ever wonder why there are no mosquitos at Disney World? Over 52 million people flock to Disney World Park each year - the Magic Kingdom alone had over 20 million visitors.

Disney World is huge. It is twice the size of Manhattan, at 25,000 acres. Currently, only half the land is used and one/third is preserved for conservation.

But no mosquitos! The trick, don't kill the adults but their eggs - it's a policy of prevention. Hence, there is no still water in the Park of any kind and all of the water and water features are kept flowing 24/7. 

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Academy Invites 395 To Become Members in 2021

 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences invited 395 people to join its ranks in 2021. 


According to the Academy, the '21 Class consists of 45% women, 39% under-represented ethnic communities, and 53% from 49 countries outside the U.S. Of the 395, 89 are former Oscar nominees - 25 of which were winners. 

Membership selection is based upon professional qualifications with inclusion and equity remaining a priority.

The Academy had previously announced, "that in an effort to enable steady growth and support for all members" it was reducing yearly membership invitations. This year roughly half were invited vs 2020, which had 819 invitees.

To view the complete list of invitees go to the following.

Fast and Furious: Where Do You Go From Here?

F9 was total make-believe. To me, in a bad way. A Pontiac Fiero in outer space? Cars free-falling off 1,000 ft. cliffs and the drivers walk away? Dom and the familia have gone the superhero, total fantasy route.

Where does one of the most successful franchises in movie history go from here? The final episode, F10 is planned and it should move quickly, as the Toretto family members are getting a bit long-in-the-tooth and look silly in totally unbelievable roles as invincible superheroes.

Super great special effects and superb cinematography were offset by a ridiculous storyline, feeble script, and bloated cast (from Helen Mirren to Kurt Russell). The extended family is too big, too complex, and too 'who cares anyway'. 

F&F needs to get back to its roots. Perhaps we'll see this in the final installment, as the last scene in F9 has the family partaking in the familiar final scene BBQ at a partially rebuilt Toretto LA home. Suddenly, a blue Nissan Skyliner pulls into the driveway - the car driven by Brian O'Conner (who was played by the deceased Paul Walker). Hey, you never know what can happen in the F&F world.

                                
                                 Main F&F cast with heights


F10 is supposedly the last film in the franchise. But, don't be so sure. F9 has racked up over $445 million and by the end of the 4th of July weekend let's put that at over $600 million globally. The cost of production and marketing $200 million. Making it hard to stop the momentum of the franchise.

 F&F the next generation. Don't forget, there is another generation of 'Torettos' waiting in the wings. Brian and Mia have two children: Jack and Gisele, Dom and Elena (deceased) had Brian, Hobbs has Samantha, and Vince (also deceased) had a son called Dom.

Whatever happens please just make it real! 


Saturday, June 26, 2021

Moviegoers : Dazed & Confused

 Where, When, and How do You View the Latest Movie?



Not only can you not afford to sign up for every streaming platform but who would want to. Consumers are exasperated as new movie distribution is regularly established, re-scheduled, then reset again and again. 

For the last 100 years, there was only one place to view new films, at the cinema. Now, the line between streaming and theatrical release is very blurred. The burden of figuring out where and when a movie will be available rests on the consumer. It's a problem that will only become more pronounced as the theatrical window shrinks to 45 days or less. And, as tentpoles more between subscription streaming and cinema screening.

When the COVID forced cinemas to close, the tradition of debuting movies there, went out the window (no pun intended). That left cinemas out in the cold and the studios quickly moved to other distribution channels. But with that change came great confusion for the viewer. Most moviegoers couldn't tell the difference between, nor cared, if the movie they were going to see was from Paramount, Disney, Sony, or DreamWorks - NOW they do!

Virtually, every major movie being released this summer is arriving in a different distribution channel. Paramount's "A Quiet Place Part II" is playing in cinemas for 45 days before moving to Paramount +.  Warners' 'Space Jam: A New Legacy" and "The Suicide Squad" are debuting at cinemas at the same time as they are streaming on HBO Max at no extra cost to subscribers. Universal's "F9" and "The Forever Purge" are screening in cinemas for an unknown period before being offered on video-on-demand.

This is a problem and very confusing to consumers. Release schedules aren't even consistent by the studios.  For example, Universal's "The Boss Baby 2" is launching in cinemas on the same day it bows on Peacock for free. Disney's "Cruella" was offered in cinemas or for rent on Disney + for $30, while its "Luca" is going straight to Disney + free.



                   Streamers proliferate making viewing very complex and confusing

Nothing makes sense any longer in trying to decipher this distribution maze. Consumers are not ready to spend all of the time and money to do a picture-by-picture analysis on where and when something is available. People are also confused regarding when new films are debuting. 

The good news for consumers is there is so much choice of content, bad news is that you have no idea of how to find your choice. Marketing is the only means of making it simple for people to find an upcoming feature. The promotion of a new theatrical release must be repetitive and state the fact that it's playing "only in theaters". 



                         Cinemas reopened to low but steady and growing admissions 

Many consumers find it very hard to justify spending extra money to see one movie at home when they already pay a monthly subscription fee. This, topped with the mental exercise of remembering where new movies are playing is too much onus to place on the 'paying public'. 

Jim Lavorato




Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Streaming Wars: It's All Good For Cinemas

 We don't want to get over-excited, as cinemas are just getting back to some form of normalcy, but the streaming war is raging and that can only be good for the movie exhibitors ... here's why!


The competition between content streamers is immense and vicious. The Players (big tech and big media) daily battle for subscribers and continue to grow by consuming every content producer no matter the price. The latest victim, MGM, was bought by Amazon for $8.4b last week. When asked how this purchase would impact Amazon, its CFO stated, "the purchase has no material impact to our financials or current operations as the transaction cannot be viewed as significant". Hey, it's only $8.4B. In Amazon-think the MGM content portfolio is significant
and historic and they get a solid production studio to boot. 



In addition to Amazon (which also manages Amazon Prime), there is Netflix (the most significant streamer), Hulu, HBOMax, Disney+, Apple+, Paramount+, VerizonWB, and over 50 other entertainment streamers from National Geographic to Acorn. At the moment, all of these competitors have made streaming very affordable entertainment, several offer subscription rates of only $4.95 per month.

What's at stake for all of the streamers is eyeballs. 70% of all viewed in-home content was through a streaming service - millennials streamed 60% of that content. The DVD industry is all but dead as the streamers allow subscribers to hold purchased content in their 'lockers'.

     

                                              The Battle for the Viewership

The current score on subscribers is as follows:

Netflix - 210m, Amazon Prive - 175m, Disney+ - 104m, HBOMax - 85m, Hulu - 41m, Paramount+ - 36m, Apple+ - 34m. This doesn't take into consideration the large Chinese streamers like TenCent and iQlyi and at least 50 more worldwide some with subscription bases as low as 100,000.

Content is king. For example, for Amazon, snapping up MGM - which has more than 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV shows in its catalog - is an easy and relatively cheap way to supercharge its Prime service with a slew of well-known titles. Which include franchises such as The Pink Panther, Rocky, and the Bond films.

Amazon's purchase of MGM came right after AT&T announced its decision to spin off  WarnerMedia and combine it with Discovery Network. 

Why This Is Good For Movie Theaters

The streamers know that they need to keep their subscription prices low, at least into the foreseeable future, to remain competitive. To counter the low subscription price, several - Hulu, Paramount+, Discovery+ - are now including paid advertisements with their content streaming. So, we're back to the old game that the cable companies played. Charge a low monthly fee to start, then introduce ads, then raise the monthly fees as the situation permits. The problem is: that scenario doesn't work when consumers would need to purchase 4 or more streaming channels to get the content they desire. This can get very expensive when you consider that the household needs WiFi to get the streaming service delivered and may still want cable for broadcast TV content.

Current Cost of Streamed Content

Netflix $9/mo, $13/mo. HD

Amazon Price $9/mo. or included w/Prime $119/yr.

Apple TV+ $5/mo.

Hulu $6/mo. (ads), $12/mo. (w/o ads)

Paramount+ $6/mo. (ads), $10/mo. (w/o ads)

Disney+ $6/mo.

HBOMax $15/mo.

Everyone knows that the very top of the content barrel will be the Hollywood-produced tentpole films, and these will be exhibited in cinemas with an exclusive 45-day window (for the most part). If consumers want the very best in content they will have to go to the movies, or wait and view it on ???  If you don't have a subscription to Amazon Prime you're not going to see the latest James Bond film. The streamers will horde their content and stream it only on their channel.

This scenario provides cinemas an opportunity - as they, and they alone, will be able to exhibit content from all producers. 


 

 


Monday, May 17, 2021

We're BACK! ... But

 U.S. cinemas are opened. The studios are finally releasing quality content and this summer will be a killer box office. The public is ready to get back to "the movies".  There is a lot of pent-up demand, and the folks want to get out and return to some level of normalcy. 


The COVID was hard on the movie industry, particularly exhibition, as cinemas were closed for months on end. Getting back is great but there are some changes that have taken place. The biggest one being the 'adjustment' in the theatrical release window.

The 90-day exclusive theatrical release window died. A victim of the pandemic. The new window is now 45-days. The virus allowed the studios the opportunity to play with various release models. From day-and-date with streaming to direct to streaming. Exhibitors had no leverage over the release changes as they were shuttered.


Cinemas defended the 90-day exclusivity but the reality is that movies make over 70% of their gate within the first three weeks of release. So, the 45-day window shouldn't cause any panic for exhibs. 

Post-pandemic the cinema industry will be as vibrant and vital as ever. I believe people will appreciate the cinema experience more than ever, having lost it for almost two years. Hollywood is set to go and there is an inventory of blockbusters for release.

Look for an outstanding summer and a great holiday season - the cinema is BACK!

Monday, May 03, 2021

Nowhere To Run: The Weinstein Saga

                                                            Harvey in happier times

Harvey Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year sentence for sexual assault in a prison near Buffalo, NY. - he is appealing that sentence.

In the meantime, he and his attorneys have been trying to evade his extradition to Los Angeles to face trial for 11 counts of rape and sexual assault - those charges carry a maximum sentence of 140 years if convicted. 

Although he has stalled the extradition request by California, it now appears eminent that Weinstein will be traveling to LA within 30 days unless Governor Andrew Cuomo of NY (himself accused of sexually assaulting 9 women) intervenes. 

Harvey stated that he was "eager to defend himself against these spurious charges". COVID issues will most likely cause his trial in LA to meet with long delays.

Weinstein was born in NYC in 1952. His misdeeds and criminal activities aside, he is considered to be one of the most influential film producers of recent times. Miramax, his production company was responsible for films such as: The Crying Game, Pulp Fiction, Clerks, The English Patient, Good Will Hunting, and Shakespeare in Love.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Academy Awards That Were Not!

You don't have to be too astute to figure out that the Oscars have been in a free-fall for the last decade. Becoming a political show, having a problem getting someone, anyone, to host, all the noise about diversity and inclusion, a changing of the guard to a very woke and weak administration, and a steady decline in Hollywood's grip on filmed entertainment - have all blended into a toxic mixture for the Academy and Oscars.




Last week's Academy Awards Show was irrelevant, unentertaining, and unglamorous. The red carpet served as a metaphor for the blood-letting that we witnessed. It was filled with people we didn't know and movies we didn't watch. Only 9.9 million watched the event, a 60% decrease from last year's show which was at the previous low. The Oscars peaked in 1998 at viewership of 57 million.

After 93 years one would think that the Academy could get it right! The Awards show should be movie fan-focused. The "inclusion" should be Hollywood embracing and thanking not only themselves but the folks that go to the local cinema to be entertained, to live in fantasy for several hours, to view and adore their idols. Yet, the Oscars languish in a state of disconnect. One in which the winner of the Best Actor Award (Anthony Hopkins) wasn't present to accept - either in person or via video stream. 

After the obvious acknowledgment that the Awards were a debacle, the Academy blamed the pandemic for the lousy Show and poor viewership numbers. One would think it should be the opposite. With people being sequestered in their homes there was a huge captive audience for the Oscar show.  

Perhaps the Academy has finally got the message that they are on the wrong path. It has to get back to making the Awards show a gala, festive, and above all entertaining event. I'm not holding my breath.

The Academy Awards are passe' and have been in free-fall for at last 10+ years. The Oscars have no relevance to the average person nor to moviegoers - only 1.9 million in the 18-49 age group viewed this year's Show - which portends things to come.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Perfect Casting: The Weinstein Saga

 If you were casting for a biopic on the whole sorted Weinstein saga you couldn't get a better portrayer for the Weinstein role than Harvey himself.

Look at Harvey. If there were anyone that fit the role of a sexual predator it's this guy.


"I'm Losing Teeth. Four So Far!"

Harvey's extradition to LA continues to be delayed. On April 12th Weinstein's attorney requested postponement due to "his client's scheduled critical health procedures, to treat his failing vision and save his teeth." Norman Effman, Weinstein's lead attorney, told the judge, "he is almost totally blind and in need of surgery and shots. He's also has major dental issues. He's already lost four teeth at this point". Arguing that leaving New York, where he is serving a 23 year sentence for rape and sexual assault charges, would be an undo hardship on Harvey. 

Los Angeles filed sexual charges against Weinstein on January 6, 2020. He is accused of rape and sexual assault in a number of separate incidents. If convicted on all counts the penalty would be over 140 years.  

"We believe we have a very good defense on all of the California charges and believe it will result in an acquittal" said Effman.

Judge Kenneth Case said that even if he ordered extradition, Weinstein has the right of appeal. So, he granted the request to postpone until April 20 the filing of papers opposing the extradition.

In a separate request, filed on April 6th, Weinstein asked the New York Court of Appeals to throw-out his conviction and grant him a new trial, stating that the Judge in his first case made several errors that denied him an impartial jury. We await the Appeal Court's decision on whether to hear the appeal or not.

And so, the saga continues. 



Monday, April 05, 2021

Monsters Hit B.O. Big

 


$48.5 million gross for 'Godzilla vs. Kong" was a pandemic record for a 5 day opening. This represented about half of what would be a 'normal' debut gate but represented a clear indicatioon that the cinema will return. Globally, the film raked in $285 million.

This bodes well for summer releases such as: "F9" (the Fast & Furious sequel), "Top Gun - Maverick", "Crulla", to name several summer tentpoles, The summer admission's ramp-up is tailor-made for viewing in the theatrical way - as bigger is always better for movie viewing.

"It Wasn't Me...It Was The Judge"

 Last Monday, Harvey Weinstein filed an appeal of his New York State conviction on sexual assault and rape charges, arguing that the judge made numerous errors that "resulted in a rigged trial". 

Weinstein, 69, was convicted in February 2020 with two counts of 3rd degree rape and one count of 1st degree assault. He is serving a 23 years sentence with his earliest parole being 2039.


He is also awaiting extradition to Los Angeles to face an additional 11 counts that carry a potential sentence of 140 years. 

It should be noted that New York State Governor Andres Cuomo, also being investigated on sexual misconduct has retained Weinstein's legal council. 






Monday, March 15, 2021

Special CMG Report: Where Does The Cinema Go From Here?

 Background

The movie industry took a direct and profound hit from the pandemic. The business model is now deeply challenged and must undergo a complete revamp to meet the demands of the digital world. The role movie theaters will play post-pandemic remains unclear.

There are two truths we know for sure:

1. More people are viewing movies at home, and

2. Studios and other content streamers are quickly developing their own direct-to-consumer digital-based services.

Studios derive about one-half their revenue from theatrical releases. If there is a diminished cinema release window it could force changes in the way content deals are struck. However, streaming may not be the best place to be for the studios in terms of profit. Premium video-on-demand (PVoD), where first-run movies are streamed directly to consumers has had mixed results and a full 68% of consumers express a desire to watch movies in theaters. So, clearly it will not be simple nor advantageous for the studios to shift to a full streaming model.


 'The theatrical window is in fact an anchor to finance production'


Currently, box office sales account for 46% of total studio sales - which is not something the studios want to disrupt.  On average, studios share 45% of box office revenue with the theaters. Further, most movies make 75% of their total box office gross within 17 days of their theatrical release.

Traditionally, the 'windowing' system ensured that each release platform was protected by a set release timeframe, for example, cinemas had a 90 day exclusive. Furthermore, the theatrical window's performance determined, in many cases, how revenue from subsequent windows was negotiated. Therefore, if more movies skip theaters in favor of digital platform release, down-stream revenues are sacrificed. 

This scenario places studios in a pickle. Reach more people through streaming but in doing so undermine cinemas' big revenue generation. These facts must be considered in light of front-end financing of productions, existing distribution agreements, and licensing terms. The theatrical window is in fact an anchor to finance production.

Premium Video on Demand (PVoD)

As it now stands, studios either lose money by delaying theatrical releases or stream first-run movies directly to consumers. Only 18% of U.S. consumers have attended a theatrical screening since the pandemic began placing huge financial pressure on the studios and cinemas. Therefore, PVoD emerged as a viable alternative, but posed a treat to the traditional windowing system.

Revenue per window or revenue per user? Typically, digital platforms generate much more data regarding viewer' engagement than cinemas.  Viewer tastes and interests, demographics, and location are several. Although only the largest studios manage streaming platforms the need for original 'blockbuster' content is evident. The trick for the studios is to measure how different types of content perform on different distribution channels.  



Some movies are well-suited to long theatrical releases while others merit shorter cinema exclusivity and some none at all. The challenge for studios is to understand which distribution channel is appropriate for which type of content and marketing it to the 'right' audience. 

On the content front, the studios are now competing against tech and telecom giants. These corporations that don't need their media operations to turn a profit because their main revenue drivers are elsewhere. This kind of deep-pocket competition put studios in a very precarious position regarding purchasing content, selling it, or producing it.



                                         Advertisement: 4mperformance.com


Not Apples-to-Apples

Measuring box office admissions vs. streaming or PVoD revenues is not an apple-to-apple comparison. When the pandemic lifts, the role of cinemas will have changed. When consumers feel safe in a cinema there may very well be a strong rebound in cinema attendance. 

I believe studios will continue to deliver 'big cinema' content but how theaters adapt and demonstrate moviegoer value against a growing at-home market will determine their fate.

COVOD 19 hit the movie industry hard but with it came the opportunity to revamp old traditions and prepare for new ones. Streaming has become a necessity and the movie industry must recognize this and forge forward as the future is fast approaching.


Tuesday, March 02, 2021

DOWN, But NOT OUT!

 The movies have always adapted to 'BIG' changes and the COVID impact will be no different. 

The Movies Depict Our History


One of the issues this year is that the Oscars will not have any 'major' contenders. The studios mouth-balled their tent-poles, including such films as 'Dune' and 'West Side Story'.

The Awards will be dominated by 'small-fry' films which are great for the small screen but not so for the silver. Up until the pandemic, all filmmakers assumed their works would be viewed on the big screen. The Best Picture prize was relegated to epic productions or fantastic stories with great acting and directing. 

Now the new mantra is films that make the audience 'feel like its inside the film'. Much of the streamed content is 'modified to fit' the home screen and highly censored for a more 'family friendly' audience. Let's face it, a movie seen at home is not the same as seeing it on a big screen at a cinema - too much detail is lost.

Moviegoing is NOT Going AWAY!

Think I'm crazy. Well, since ever people have congregated to listen to storytellers - there is a need for a shared entertainment experience. Furthermore, there are too many people with too much at stake to see the industry disappear. It is financially important.

I've written before about how the movie industry survived TV and radio in the 1950s, the home video boom of the '80s, and 'pay-per-view' of the '90s and beyond. The pandemic will be no different.

In 1953, Walt Disney commented, "The movie industry requires constant adaptation and adventures in showmanship. We like to enjoy ourselves in crowds, at sports arenas, at picnics, fairs, and carnivals, at concerts, and in the theatre.  People are always going to demand and enjoy movies in the theatre. Movies will survive."

Well said Walt. I couldn't agree more!


Thursday, February 04, 2021

Cannes Festival Moved To July Good For Film Industry

 There may be hope for the Cannes film festival attendees and the movie industry in general as the date of the festival has now been set for early July. 



This will be the first major film festival that will be 'live'. After a year of virtual film fests, the prospect of celebrating great filmmaking sounds fantastic. Most festival attendees, be they distributors, filmmakers, actors, agents, producers, and buyers believe that even if the pandemic is not over by July, with the vaccines the lockdowns and group restrictions will be behind us. 

This news of a July festival is very positive for the film buyers. The normal (live) May festival was not in the cards. With the whole film industry in turmoil, a bit of normalcy at the biggest film market in the world is great. 

The July reschedule is reassuring because it's a delay that's not too long and therefore won't impact the commercial life of films but long enough not to disrupt the whole endeavor. To most, the date change was a huge relief. 

There are many distributors with movies waiting to be released once cinemas reopen fully.  They have to clear up their slate of overdue releases. The ideal game plan for a distributor is to use Cannes as a launchpad for new films to either streamers or cinemas.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Biden Admin. - Good/Bad For Cinema

 Will the Biden/Harris Administration be a good friend to the cinema industry?  Many in H'wood believe this will be the case.


George Clooney and Cher raised over $14m for Biden 

 Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are long-time supporters of the film industry and the H'wood elite were huge backers and, more importantly, big donors to Biden's election.

The Dems spent over $4.6b on the Presidential election - a record, and twice as much as the previous election cycle. And, a good portion of those contributions coming from Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street. However, of this triad of large givers only H'wood has taken a major hit due to the pandemic. 

Biden is well aware of H'wood's suffering and the great cultural contribution it makes, as well as, the significant employment numbers it carries - 2.1 million direct jobs nationwide. Both of these facts will not go unrewarded by the Biden Administration. 

H'wood has traditionally enjoyed a close relationship with Democratic administrations but I think the Biden White House will be less huggy-feelly and more pragmatic given the impact of the pandemic and the current significant divide between Republicans and Democrats. Biden will be an ally to the industry.

The cinema industry as one of the most severely impacted and remains so. Let's see what the Biden Admin. can do to get the industry moving and get moviegoers back into theaters. 

Monday, January 04, 2021

Movie Theaters' New Life: Tiered Admission Pricing

Anyone who has read my articles knows that for years now I have predicted that cinemas and online streaming of movies would eventually go day-and-date. However, I never envisioned it would take a pandemic to spur-on this change - 2020 has forever changed film making, distribution and exhibition.

My new prognostication is that cinemas move to a tiered admission pricing structure - having different admission pricing dependent upon the movie being screened. Blockbuster tentpoles premium priced while lesser films a regular admission price. This simple tactic will get more people back to the cinema again and would keep them coming back.
The rise of streaming services, which received a huge boost as viewers were forced to stay home, placed added pressure on the old, ironclad theatrical release window. Cinemas were forced to close and the studios had to completely recast their release schedules - moving dates out years and sending some production to streaming services or digital rental platforms. That widened the cracks that were already present in the release window's panes resulting in a total rethink of movie distribution.

As cinemas reopen they are realizing that their bargaining power has been lost. For example, if they wanted to screen 'Wonder Woman 1984' they had to accept a very shortened exclusive window. Rebuilding the Theatrical Model Both the studios and exhibitors know that the 90 day exclusive release window is now history. What remains is a studio-by-studio negociation for release rules and, I believe, it will be a film-by-film model. For example, 'Fast and Furious 9' would warrant a longer window than a lesser film. I don't believe that the major blockbuster films will go day-and-date that often. However, the exclusive window would be weeks and not months.

Universal has worked out a deal with AMC, Cinemark, and Cineplex whereby the exhibs will get a piece of the digital profits of certain films to compensate for the shortened release window. This may be the best scenario for all concerned.

Consumers are now used to viewing films in the comfort of home-viewing, but there is a tremendous pent-up desire by people to get out of their homes and experience the full scale and impact that only the silver screen can bring. This is where the tiered pricing comes into play. Consumers are now used to paying a low subscriber price for their movie viewing - mostly in the $10-15/month range for any of the streamers. Cinemas will not be able to have a one-price-fits-all for films. They cannot charge, say a flat $12 (or $20 in NYC and LA) to see any film on the marquee - that model justs doesn't work any more. The COVID pandemic, in the long-term, may turn out to have been a good thing for the cinema industry if you agree that the changes it forced were going to happen in time anyway.