2020 At The Boxoffice

Josh Steinberg

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If the theatrical model as we know it dies out, Covid will only have been the final nail in the coffin - not the first. The home entertainment segment of the business has seen tremendous innovation over the past 25 years that has coincided with an across the board dramatic lowering of prices for consumer electronics and home content. The theatrical experience hasn’t had a comparable evolution in that time, and the incremental advancements they have pursued have come with ever rising prices that have outpaced inflation and cost of living dramatically.

It’s not a wise strategy to charge more and innovate less when your competition is innovating more and lowering costs.
 

Malcolm R

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Perhaps, but it's still a multi-Billion dollar business that has been remarkably steady over the past 25 years when adjusted for inflation. Chart from The Numbers.com.

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TravisR

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What has been mentioned, but few seem willing to acknowledge, is that they're killing what's left of the theatrical business model. Without new product, many theaters will not survive. So there is no big theatrical windfall to be had now or in the future, regardless of how long they hold them back. Eventually they'll be lucky to be able to open on 2000 screens domestically. The $100m opening weekend is not coming back.
I'd actually argue that if (when?) some chains fold that the remaining theaters will end up playing the same tentpole picture on like 80% of their screens to compensate for the theaters lost and to handle the consumer demand from there being less theaters so that big opening will still be there. However, it's the other smaller movies or movies that aren't in their first week that will prematurely lose screens or never get a screen because the studios and theaters will be trying to insure that huge opening for franchise pictures.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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That content may be better off moving to premium cable and subscription streaming in the long run anyway.

In terms of profitability, the subscription services care about aggregate results more than each individual item (as the studios used to), which takes the pressure off each thing having to make a certain amount of money, allowing more varied content to be made for those platforms - we’re seeing that already.

Not having to spend tens or hundreds of millions to promote those titles will make them easier to green light. Same for forgoing the theatrical distribution costs.

Streaming doesn’t care about ratings in any meaningful way. No more pandering to the MPAA over the most minuscule alterations.

Streaming is also free of time constraints associated with theatrical. Less emphasis on cutting to meet an arbitrary length to allow more showtimes per day.
 

Jake Lipson

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On another note, I was just looking at my theater's online seating chart. I'm not going, but have been curious to monitor the activities there.

The first showing of Tenet for today is 1:55 and has no seats sold yet.

Interestingly, The Empire Strikes Back is now in auditorium 11, which is the biggest auditorium that isn't premium-priced. Tenet is still in the premium XD room, but it has been cycled out of the largest normal room. Its first screening of the day starts in 15 minutes and has thus far sold five tickets.

Because Empire is a catalog title, it is priced at $5 for all tickets all day. Tenet is charging regular admission prices because it is a first-run release. The fact that they would move Empire, which even with higher attendance would make them less money, into the big room is the clearest indication yet that they have a problem.
 

TravisR

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I saw a screening of The Empire Strikes Back that was sold out last night at a large AMC that is kind of a hike from me. The AMC that is close to me has been selling about 15 tickets for Empire and it's the busiest thing I've seen playing there this weekend.
 

Colin Jacobson

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I think they care that the people who have decided not to go to theaters during a pandemic no matter what the product is aren't coming back. That is what is driving these descisions.
But this assumes that an MCU movie or a Bond movie wouldn't entice these people back into theaters.

As I've said, the assumption on this board seems to be "'Tenet' disappointed because people won't return during pandemic no matter what", and I disagree with that.

"Tenet" wasn't a sure thing like an MCU movie or a Bond. Yeah, we can compare it to other non-franchise Nolan flicks like "Inception" or "Interstellar", but that doesn't leave with a firm grasp on what it "should" have done in a normal circumstance.

With MCU or Bond, we know audiences will go to those under these aforementioned normal circumstances. Of course, some do better than others, but there's a clear baseline that creates reasonable expectations.

If "Black Widow" or "No Time to Die" come out and they suffer the fate of "Tenet", then you have a stronger argument that a substantial audience faction won't come back until COVID is effectively vanquished.

Right now we just don't know. Perhaps you're right and substantial crowds wouldn't come out to see anything, or maybe they just haven't thought the current offerings are worth the risk.

Like I said, we won't know until/unless a studio takes that chance.

And as I've also said, I think a big ticket release in October or November stands a way better chance that "Tenet" because theaters will have been open for months so they'll seem less risky.

Assuming there's no "traceable to theaters" outbreak(s), of course. The error of "Tenet" may have been less that audiences won't come back during COVID period and more it simply hit screens too soon after they reopened...
 

Colin Jacobson

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If Broadway can remain dark indefinitely and come back, movie theaters can, too. It will probably take government assistance to do so, and the government does not seem interested in providing that.
The big difference: there's no "at home" semi-equivalent for live productions. While movie theaters are superior to home TVs, it's still a reasonable facsimile, whereas there's nothing like that for live productions.

I go - or went :( - to lots of concerts, and video versions of those and/or live albums aren't even close to a substitute.

As much as I love the big screen, watching at home at least offers a viable option. That's not the same for any form of live performance...
 

Jake Lipson

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As I've said, the assumption on this board seems to be "'Tenet' disappointed because people won't return during pandemic no matter what", and I disagree with that.
I love going to the movies as much as anyone on this board and I, personally, won't return during the pandemic no matter what. I want to be alive to see movies after this is over, which means I have to sacrifice seeing them now. I can't imagine what movie would be worth risking my safety to see.

But more to your point, which studio do you think will potentially throw away another +/- $200 million franchise tentpole in order to test your hypothesis? It's much easier to say what they should or shouldn't do when it's not your money on the line.
 
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TravisR

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But more to your point, which studio do you think will potentially throw away another +/- $200 million franchise tentpole in order to test your hypothesis? It's much easier to say what they should or shouldn't do when it's not your money on the line.
Or your job. How could someone explain that they went ahead with a release of a movie that they hope makes hundreds of millions worldwide when they've seen how Tenet did? Even though it's true, "We needed to help theaters" is going to fall on deaf ears especially when I think it's arguable that large numbers of people just aren't willing to go back to theaters yet no matter what movie is playing.
 
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Malcolm R

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I think it's arguable that large numbers of people just aren't willing to go back to theaters yet no matter what movie is playing.
Arguable is correct, considering we've only had two releases so it's rather difficult to tell what people want or are willing to do. Perhaps they just weren't interested in the upteenth entry in the X-Men series or the latest dense and confusing sci-fi offering from Christopher Nolan.

If No Time To Die sticks to November, I think those results will be more telling about the state of the box office. Being Craig's swan song as Bond, and given the popularity of his past Bond films, that's the closest to a sure thing on the upcoming schedule.
 

TravisR

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Arguable is correct, considering we've only had two releases so it's rather difficult to tell what people want or are willing to do. Perhaps they just weren't interested in the upteenth entry in the X-Men series or the latest dense and confusing sci-fi offering from Christopher Nolan.

If No Time To Die sticks to November, I think those results will be more telling about the state of the box office. Being Craig's swan song as Bond, and given the popularity of his past Bond films, that's the closest to a sure thing on the upcoming schedule.
I think No Time To Die would do better than Tenet did but not hugely. I think Skyfall was an anomaly that did great but it's not the norm for how Bond movies do in the U.S. so I don't see No Time To Die doing major business. However, if there is a large audience that is just looking for a movie to see but can't find one then Bond or Wonder Woman will likely get some of those people in the theaters.
 
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Colin Jacobson

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I love going to the movies as much as anyone on this board and I, personally, won't return during the pandemic no matter what. I want to be alive to see movies after this is over, which means I have to sacrifice seeing them now. I can't imagine what movie would be worth risking my safety to see.

But more to your point, which studio do you think will potentially throw away another +/- $200 million franchise tentpole in order to test your hypothesis? It's much easier to say what they should or shouldn't do when it's not your money on the line.
So what's the solution? Sit on movies for a year or 2 and watch theaters die in the interim?

And given that the international market is more robust, it's not as enormous a risk as you guys want to depict.

No, the total receipts for "Tenet" won't cover its cost, but it should wind up around $300m or so WW, I guess, which means it wasn't "thrown away".

There've been much bigger true bombs like "John Carter" that made less money without a pandemic to blame.

If "Tenet" can make $300m WW, then "Black Widow" or Bond can make $400m easily - probably more.

As I've said, "Tenet" wasn't a sure thing pre-COVID, so if it can still pull in $300m in the current conditions, the aforementioned movies can certainly drag in at least another $100m or more.

The international market protects these movies from utter failure. If the WW situation was the same as the US, then you have a better argument, but given that movies can still make decent $$$ even with low US receipts, there's not the risk involved implied on this thread.

And studios can't really release movies non-US only because then piracy will kill their prospects when they do finally open here.

I don't claim there's a good solution here. I just feel that the option in which US theaters get nothing "big" to play because studios are afraid to look bad is the worst one on the table, as it's a no win.

Theaters collapse and then the movies never make any damned money in the US anyway!
 

Colin Jacobson

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Or your job. How could someone explain that they went ahead with a release of a movie that they hope makes hundreds of millions worldwide when they've seen how Tenet did?
But "Tenet" has made 100s of millions WW. As I've noted, it seems likely to finish around $300m.

Not the 100s of millions the studio expected pre-COVID, but geez, you guys act like it made 27 cents! :lol:

Seriously, $300m for a non-franchise/original property with little starpower in the middle of a global pandemic? That sounds pretty good from where I sit!
 

Colin Jacobson

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Arguable is correct, considering we've only had two releases so it's rather difficult to tell what people want or are willing to do. Perhaps they just weren't interested in the upteenth entry in the X-Men series or the latest dense and confusing sci-fi offering from Christopher Nolan.
Which is the point I've made: we really have no idea what "Tenet" would've done without COVID. Better than it did in the US, certainly, but people here treat it like a sure thing, and it wasn't.

As for "New Mutants", that was barely sold as part of the X-Men franchise. I watched the trailer: no mention of "X-Men" and outside of the Marvel logo, no indication it's attached to the superhero flicks.

Looks more like a YA horror film, really:


"New Mutants" wasn't a movie Disney wanted to bother with. They were probably happy to just dump it as a sacrificial COVID lamb...
 

TravisR

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But "Tenet" has made 100s of millions WW. As I've noted, it seems likely to finish around $300m.

Not the 100s of millions the studio expected pre-COVID, but geez, you guys act like it made 27 cents! :lol:

Seriously, $300m for a non-franchise/original property with little starpower in the middle of a global pandemic? That sounds pretty good from where I sit!
Absolutely but it needed to make $600 million to turn a profit and that's the kind of ridiculous amount of money that alot of these tentpole movies need to make so if Tenet didn't come close to that kind of money, I can see how studios would be very hesitant to release a movie and risk losing hundreds of millions of dollars.
 

Colin Jacobson

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I think No Time To Die would do better than Tenet did but not hugely. I think Skyfall was an anomaly that did great but it's not the norm for how Bond movies do in the U.S. so I don't see No Time To Die doing major business. However, if there is a large audience that is just looking for a movie to see but can't find one then Bond or Wonder Woman will likely get some of those people in the theaters.
WW totals for the Craig Bonds:

-CR: $616 million
-Quantum: $589 million
-Skyfall: $1.1 billion
-SPECTRE: $880 million

So "Skyfall" was a peak and a huge increase from the 1st 2, but "SPECTRE" showed a decent hold. Yeah, it looks "bad" compared to "Skyfall", but it looks incredible compared to the 1st 2.

"SPECTRE" did get weaker reviews - from critics and audiences - so clearly some of its success came from the coattails effect, but Bond is obviously established enough that people won't write off the franchise after one lackluster entry.

Add the longer span between movies - 5 years vs. 3 years - and greater anticipation, I think it would've done at least "SPECTRE" #s in a normal climate, and probably better.

Anyway, "NTtD" is clearly a safer bet even now than "Tenet" was. Like I said earlier, if it does come out in November, it's a lock for at least $400m WW, probably more.

Again, not what they'd want in normal days, but these aren't normal days, and sitting on already-delayed movies for another 6-12-18-24 months until things are "normal" seems like a bad move...
 

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