Theaters are an “outdated” distribution model that brought in $ 42.5 billion in global revenues last year.
We learned this week that AMC may run out of money by the end of 2020 or early 2021, with either an increase in the global box office (unlikely with almost all major 2020 releases delayed until 2021 or sent to PVOD streaming) or a cash injection l ‘preventing bankruptcy. Theaters, many of the big chains, have already survived bankruptcy, when chains overspended in the mid-1990s, saturating the market with newer and better theaters to compete with cable. The competition is tougher this time around, with streaming and VOD threatening to make theatricals a secondary option for high-level filmed entertainment.
But if AMC goes bankrupt and / or the movie chains don’t survive, it won’t be because of anything other than the pandemic that has kept audiences at bay for most of this year.
If theaters don’t survive, and I guess they will to some extent, it won’t be because Chris Nolans Principle was not popular enough or Disney Mulan went to PVOD. It won’t be because Hollywood hasn’t moved with the times or theaters couldn’t compete with home entertainment options. Yes, we can see cinemas as a video game arcade storyline (just as arcades collapsed when home consoles became able to come close to or outperform most cabinet style video games) where the theaters are reserved only for the biggest of the big blockbusters for experiences you can’t duplicate at home. But if theaters don’t survive the coronavirus, it will be because of the pandemic, period.
Everything else is a distraction. People don’t avoid theaters because they don’t want to, but rather because they can’t, don’t feel safe, or these theaters lack tentpoles. Theaters are not in trouble because of Netflix
Since the pandemic, no doubt was not properly treated in America (arguably because of disinterested executive power federal government), the kind of theatrical revival that takes place elsewhere (like China) was not possible in America. This led Hollywood to organize its big event movies for a later date. Everything else about the push-pull between theaters and streaming, movies versus TV, etc., is irrelevant. Theaters spent much of the year unable to do what brought them new income. And normally, movie theaters are still very popular.
The total number of tickets sold in North America in 2019, around 1.235 billion (so called Numbers), is down steadily from its peak of 1.575 billion in 2002 (in the months following the 9/11 attacks and during a wave of unreleased mega-films like Spider-Man, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Two Towers and Attack of the clones). However, the 1.318 billion domestic tickets sold in 2018 aren’t that far from the early 1990s, before multiplexing became mainstream and gadgets like stadium seats and digital audio became the norm.
Between 1995 and 2019, the differential between the worst year (2017, with 1.225 billion) and the best (2002, with 1.575 billion sold) is around 22%. The decrease between 2009 (1.418 billion) and 2019 (1.235 billion) is 14%. 2009 (when unlikely crashes like The blind side, new moon and The hangover burst next Avatar and Transformers: The Dark Side of the Moon) was the first year in which revenues exceeded $ 10 billion in North America. They fluctuated between $ 10.173 billion in 2011 and $ 11.946 billion in 2018, a differential of 15%.
In terms of total inflation-adjusted domestic revenue, 2004 was the last year to exceed $ 13 billion. Part of the $ 13.6 billion total was fueled by two blockbusters that will never happen again (The passion of Christ with $ 373 million and Fahrenheit 9/11 with $ 119 million), which brought out people who otherwise didn’t go to the movies regularly. Inflation-adjusted total domestic incomes have stabilized, over the past 15 years, between $ 11.165 billion in 2017 (in part because the 2016 biggies were unusually terrible) and $ 12.9 billion in 2009. This is a breakdown of 14%.
This does not represent a decade of expansion abroad (not just in China). Rising ticket prices and increasing number of consumers watching their films in premium formats, be it IMAX
Considering the deluge of competition for entertainment dollars, as well as the increasing availability of high-quality home presentations (1080p, surround sound, etc.) for movies released in theaters around 90 days after the day of the event. ‘openness and more and more refined television and streaming content, I argue that somewhat stable is still quite decent. Yes, domestic moviegoers have been spending an increasing amount of their money on movies on a rapidly decreasing number of mega-dollar tentpoles, this is more of a problem for studios than theaters.
It stinks that out of $ 3.8 billion out of $ 11.123 billion in 2017 were represented by the top ten films. But cinemas get most of their money from concessions and a big popcorn bought for Star Wars: The Last Jedi costs the same as the one purchased for All the money in the world. Say what you like about theaters that don’t recognize the future or Hollywood being too dependent on the franchise, but the theaters brought in $ 42.5 billion in global revenue last year. You might have a great home theater setup and might prefer to wait for VOD or streaming, but folks worth $ 42.5 billion have chosen to see movies in theaters. last year.
If the studios could make the comparative profits they make Toy story 4 or one Split of VOD, they left theaters 15 years ago. Trolls: Around the World was pulled from (most) theaters for PVOD amid a nationwide lockdown, with DreamWorks’ sequel offering new family entertainment for families in quarantine. It has still only grossed around $ 95 million in 19 days, or what the first Trolls earned ($ 93 million) in its first 17 days of domestic theatrical release. If Disney was happy with the number of people who paid $ 30 for the rental Mulan, they wouldn’t offer Soul free on Disney +
If this summers PVOD dump performed on par with the worldwide theatrical release, we wouldn’t wait until next year to see not only mega-movies like Top Gun: Maverick and F9 but (comparatively) smaller films like Candyman and In the heights. I would say this is in part due to the fact that people more inclined to watch something at home are also more inclined / willing to expect it to be much cheaper than $ 20 to rent or $ 25 to buy.
Studios like to talk about the sanctity of the theatrical experience. Besides appeasing the filmmakers who always want their work to be shown in theaters, this is mainly because they know that great films cannot make huge profits in the form of PVOD rentals or films. streaming exclusives. If theaters don’t survive, it will be because they have been hit by a pandemic that has prevented theaters from doing the singular thing they are doing to make money. Cinemas are suffering right now as there is a pandemic which has made everyone, rightly or wrongly, unable / unwilling to visit their local multiplex. This has led Hollywood to delay its upcoming big releases or, on a case-by-case basis, to send some to PVOD or streaming.
The fact that the entire theater industry is teetering on a cliff because America has failed to bring the pandemic under control compared to other major foreign markets reveals a decade’s lie about the box’s supposedly cardinal importance -office abroad. China is back to normal, with local blockbusters earning roughly what they would have earned without the pandemic variables. If Hollywood weren’t counting on the domestic box office as the market responsible for 30-50% of global gross, Wonder Woman 1984, no time to die and Black Widow could open abroad in theaters and on VOD / streaming in America.
Everything else, streaming, VOD, ticket prices, stagnant wages, the quality / value of the theatrical experience, is a distraction from a plague that has forced theaters to close for much of 2020.
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