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Hollywood’s hottest 2021 thriller isn’t a Bond or Marvel movie; It’s the mega-plex fight for survival




A year after the start of the pandemic, cinemas are coming back to life and dreaming of a successful summer.

MThe ovie theaters of Los Angeles, the beating heart of the Americas film industry, open their doors this weekend, and the box office return couldn’t come soon enough. Ticket sales in the United States and Canada fell from a cliff to $ 2.2 billion in 2020, a dramatic 80% drop from the previous year, with darkened screens and exits of major films postponed.

The industry is hoping to make a comeback in 2021. New York, which accounts for 7% of nations’ ticket sales in an average year, opened its limited-capacity theaters last weekend. San Francisco, 4%, turned on the popcorn machines in early March. Now Los Angeles, the country’s largest film market, is operating at 25% capacity.

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The Los Angeles moment marks a milestone for an industry that has been battered by the pandemic, leading major exhibitors like AMC Theaters and Cinemark to cross the threshold of 90% or more open locations. Exhibitors are counting on stepping up the pace of Covid-19 vaccinations to reduce the rate of infection, making moviegoers more comfortable to venture out while easing state-imposed seating limits. They look to China, the first country to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, as an indicator. Theaters there set a box office record of $ 775 million for the Lunar New Year holiday weekend, despite restrictions on theater capacity.

The idea is that there’s going to be a lot of pent-up demand and consumers want to get back to theaters, said Eric Wold, analyst at B. Riley. I’m optimistic that we’re sending people there, if you do it in a safe way … you start to lift the capacity restrictions.

Wicket bust

Ticket sales in the United States and Canada fell from a cliff to $ 2.2 billion in 2020, a dramatic 80% drop from the previous year, with darkened screens and exits of major films postponed.

As the exhibition crater market in March 2020, its major suppliers studied the salt film. Studios have repeatedly delayed theatrical releases as much anticipated as F9, the last installment of Fast Furious franchise, and No time to die, a film that marks Daniel Craigs’ last appearance as British Secret Agent 007. Distrustful moviegoers have simply stayed home.

The booming streaming business, which surpassed the record one billion subscribers worldwide, has only increased the competition. Studios like Disney and Warner Bros. have hijacked new films, like Hamilton and Wonder Woman 1984, to their nascent subscription services in an effort to drive subscriptions. Universal Pictures took the opportunity to renegotiate the release conditions, shortening the exclusive period for a theatrical release.

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The past year has presented AMC with the most challenging market conditions in the company’s 100-year history, said Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theaters, releasing the company’s year-end results. .

The challenge is an understatement.

The nation’s largest theater chain, AMC, reported a staggering loss of $ 4.59 billion last year, and at one point it looked dangerously close to bankruptcy. It raised $ 2 billion in capital to overcome foreclosure restrictions and secured concessions from its owners. Chinese parent company Dalian Wanda Group has reduced its stake in the company.

The sustained pace of vaccine rollout and the backlog of blockbuster films slated for release give Aron cause for optimism. In fact, 98% of its theaters were open on Friday, although capacity varies from state to state. Some locations, such as Texas and Alaska, have allowed exhibitors to regain full seating, according to data tracked by the National Association of Theater Owners, while theaters in South Carolina, Tennessee and Massachusetts operate at half capacity. Florida and Georgia simply demand that moviegoers keep their distance.

It seems audiences have never lost their appetites for moviegoers: Drive-ins are experiencing a renaissance, according to a new report from the Motion Picture Association, which did not cite attendance or revenue figures.

Jaclyn Moore was among the first to purchase a ticket to the newly reopened AMC Theater in Burbank, where she found herself sitting next to director Christopher Nolan for a screening of the Oscar-nominated film. Judas and the Black Messiah.

I’m the Blurry Girl in the Back, she noticed on Twitter, sharing a Reuters photo that captured the moment.

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Moore said Forbes that while the streaming services foot the bill, she was an executive producer of the breakthrough series Netflix, Dear Whites, and more recently on the HBO Max launch series Love life, a romantic comedy series with Anna Kendrickshe has a love affair with the big screen.

I always think going to the theater when you can feel special and important, said Moore, who has waited to see several of this year’s Oscar nominees on the big screen. While streaming services have attempted to replicate the community cinema experience, this is not a replacement.

Screen savers

Theaters rely on renowned franchises, Black Widow at F9 at No time to die to bring moviegoers back to the multiplex this year.

Comscore media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said those who thought streaming would kill movie theaters are misguided because it only gives consumers more choice. Consider the opening weekend ticket office Tom and Jerry, a movie that was available on HBO Max and the Megaplex.

It still made $ 14.1 million in theaters the same day it was available at home, Dergarabedian notes. So I think streaming is more disruptive for other broadcasts. Streaming wars are called that for a reason. These are not the streaming movie wars. These are the streaming wars because it’s like the Wild West for streaming.

If all goes well, American moviegoers will have their pick of films as anticipated as No time to die the last payment of bonds (currently scheduled for October 8), Mission: impossible 7 (November 19), Steven spielbergs West Side Story (December 10) and Spider-Man: No Coming Home (December 17).

Around the same time next year, Wold predicts that movie attendance may well return to pre-pandemic levels.

That’s what happened in China, where movie theaters broke seven box office records without the allure of Hollywood blockbusters.

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IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond said he and other exhibitors opened up the market by releasing older films and smaller niche films to build confidence with moviegoers. Once the great films were released, moviegoers returned to the multiplex.

I don’t think it’s going to be like a light switch where you just turn it on and people come back in historic numbers, Gelfond said. It will look more like a faucet that turns on over time.

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