Movie Theatres are dying. But I don’t think it is the studios’ responsibility to release films to keep them afloat.
The concept of my column, Come @ Me, Bro, is to present a strong, unpopular opinion that I actually believe. All the opinions are not made up just to incite angry discord. Unlike Twitter users who tweet an unpopular opinion only to say, “Don’t @ Me,” I actually want to hear from you! Whether you agree, or more likely, disagree with my statements. This week; why studios shouldn’t release blockbuster films just to keep movie theatres in business, especially this Holiday Season.
Yes, I am a United States citizen, but I will continue to spell “theatres” just so. I worked at AMC and Cinemark, where it is “AMC Theatres” and Cinemark “Theatres.” NOT Theaters. Sorry, not sorry.
Movie theatres have taken quite the blow this year with Covid-19 hitting the world, and especially the United States, hard. Back in March all the big chains, AMC, Regal, and Cinemark, as well as any other theatre, had to shut down due to the pandemic. Movie theatres were able to reopen in late July, but with little success.
Some say movie studios are killing the movie theatres by now moving their holiday Blockbusters into next year. I don’t find this to be the case, so let’s get into it, shall we?
The Not-So Mysterious US Flop Of Tenet
Though it preformed better overseas, Tenet was a huge flop for Christopher Nolan in the United States. All because of Covid-19.
Domestically, Tenet opened to about $20 million and has only grossed $45,100,000 thus far. After playing chicken with Disney and Mulan, Warner Bros. finally settled on a September 3, 2020 release date.
Let’s compare that to Nolan’s last two non-Batman centric films, Interstellar and Inception.
Interstellar in 2014 opened to $47.5 million domestically and grossed $188 million in the US. Inception did even better in 2010, opening to $62.7 domestically and grossing $292.5 in the United States. All according to Box Office Mojo.
There is no reason Tenet shouldn’t land somewhere in that range, in a summer without Covid-19. Obviously, the data suggests that Americans are not ready to return to the movie theatres in droves to see Blockbusters. What will happen next with the Covid-19 pandemic is one big ole’ question mark.
Some experts expect Covid to get worse as Fall drives people indoors. That combined with flu season could see cases rising, not falling as we move into Winter and the Holiday Movie season. Leading scientists don’t see a usable vaccine happening before Summer 2021 or even Fall 2021. Missing the two most profitable seasons of the year will continue to punish movie theatres until the go bankrupt or close all together.
So, if people continue to avoid theatres, why should studios release their movies with budgets of $100+ million, knowing there is a good chance they will flop. Look, I’m a cinephile and can’t wait to return to the movie theatres myself, but I can’t see me taking that leap until we have a vaccine and enough people have received it to make public spaces safe. This is the way.
The Results On Movie Theatres
Well, we’re already seeing the results.
We learned this week, that after 007: No Time To Die was moved to April 2021, Cineworld Group, based in the UK, is closing 100 theatres there and its 536 locations in the US starting today. The company plans to reopen, but will it be too late?
One tent-pole release has even shuffled away from Summer 2021 and into 2022. I’m talking Jurassic World: Domination, a huuuuuge franchise that continues to rake in the dough no matter the loss of quality as the franchise continues.
No Time To Die, Black Widow, Dune, and many other blockbusters have been pushed to 2021, not giving theatres enough profitable content even if Americans want to return to movie theatres on Christmas.
Regal is the 2nd biggest chain in the US, behind AMC and just ahead of Cinemark. So, will the other two follow suit, hoping to save the cost of running a theatre – electric, staffing, projector light bulbs, etc – or could the other chains possibly benefit from less competition?
Based on the preceding article, AMC does feel like it could benefit from a less crowded marketplace and through it’s deal with Universal to collect a certain percentage of VOD sales in exchange for Universal shortening their release window to 17 days.
But, I seriously doubt this is enough. As more and more Blockbusters abandon the Holiday Season, even AMC won’t have anything to play. I see Cinemark and possibly AMC also closing down until there is more content in Summer 2021.
Studios should not keep films from being delayed just to keep movie theatres afloat. They have a bottom line too, and we’ve seen people don’t care if a Blockbuster is coming to theatres if they don’t feel safe. It’s not their job to provide content to keep the movie theatre industry alive… in this way.
Is There Another Way To Save Movie Theatres?
There IS a way studios could help movie theatres without throwing their movies into the abyss.
Back in June, Verdict floated a rumor suggesting Amazon, who of course owns Amazon Studios, may purchase AMC which would benefit both businesses. There are even more recent rumors that even as they slash jobs, Disney may be looking to purchase movie theatres of their own.
Previously, this would have been illegal, but back in early August, it was made legal for a studio to purchase a theatre. Now, there will be federal regulations as when Comcast had to get approval to buy NBCUniversal. A company like Disney would have to legally agree to not favor its own content over other studios. So… it could happen. But with studios losing money because they are not releasing content, can they even afford to buy movie theatres?
Only time will tell… especially in the unknown era of Covid-19.
COME @ ME, BRO!
Now, the fun part. Do you think studios have the obligation to keep movie theatres by releasing more content? Would you like to see studios purchase movie theatres?
You know what I think, so I want you to Come @ Me, Bro! Let’s do this in the comments below!
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