Movies & Cinema during the Pandemic? Catch-all Discussion

Wayne_j

Cinematographer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2006
Messages
3,400
Real Name
Wayne
AMC has recently installed a ton of Dolby Cinema theaters, and as you have noted revamped seating and has been running AMC A-List as a loss. They started becoming profitable again right before the pandemic, but were still in debt from all the upgrades.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TravisR

TravisR

Studio Mogul
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2004
Messages
35,008
Location
The basement of the FBI building
The movie business is in serious trouble, folks.
If AMC goes bankrupt (and it's worth noting that bankruptcy seems to take many years to kill a corporation), I think it's very likely that someone else will buy their theaters. They're literally ready made places to play movies so it's an easy investment for a studio to play their own movies.

However, if the incredibly unlikely happens and theaters go out of business then the artform of movies is basically over. Studios might make comic book or Star Wars movies to sell VOD but that'll be it. Dramas, forget it. Comedies, nope. Just megabudget popcorn junk that will be watched once or twice on a laptop & quickly forgotten about. There may be still be self financed movies but they'll never really be seen since there will be no distribution for them.
 

Josh Steinberg

Film Editor
Reviewer
Joined
Jun 10, 2003
Messages
18,564
Real Name
Josh Steinberg
It was probably not realistic to expect that movie exhibition wouldn’t change when everything else around it has. Going to the movies has changed from being the only way to see filmed entertainment to merely the first opportunity to do so.

The mid-budget movie that was the industry’s bread and butter for decades has evolved into prestige/premium television. That’s where you’ll continue to see A-list performers and talent telling more character driven stories. (And that may not be a bad thing; why should there be an arbitrary two hour limit on telling a story when the strength of the midbudget film is the characters, and the strength of television is the ability to spend more time with characters?)

I don’t think change in this case is inherently good or bad; it’s just change. But I think the status quo as it’s been for the past decade or more, where studios spend tens of millions to promote a movie for months in advance to instill a sense of urgency to make people come out and see it in a one or two week period, isn’t sustainable, particularly in a time where there’s no consequence for not playing along. Everything that’s in a theater is available to watch at home in months, if not weeks, at substantially reduced prices. How could the very nature of that availability not change the preferences of customers?
 

ManW_TheUncool

Lead Actor
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2001
Messages
6,569
Location
The BK
Real Name
ManW
If AMC goes bankrupt (and it's worth noting that bankruptcy seems to take many years to kill a corporation), I think it's very likely that someone else will buy their theaters. They're literally ready made places to play movies so it's an easy investment for a studio to play their own movies.
I could definitely see that, especially Disney... though they're currently having their own financial dilemma due to this pandemic.

However, if the incredibly unlikely happens and theaters go out of business then the artform of movies is basically over. Studios might make comic book or Star Wars movies to sell VOD but that'll be it. Dramas, forget it. Comedies, nope. Just megabudget popcorn junk that will be watched once or twice on a laptop & quickly forgotten about. There may be still be self financed movies but they'll never really be seen since there will be no distribution for them.
I don't know about that. Netflix, et al started producing some and have attracted various A-list filmmakers, quality new talent, et al, making some very solid "films".

Also, the dramas, comedies, etc you speak of rarely did all that much at the boxoffice anyway. I certainly almost never bothered to see them in theaters anymore (in the last 20 years or so), but have spent plenty on physical media for them instead (far more than movie-going before, being able to explore much more that way)... Sure, studios were hoping to actually turn profits on them at the boxoffice (at least as a whole) in general, but have they really done so well that they wouldn't eventually (have to?) reconsider their approach anyway? And surely, they've increasingly been factoring the video side of the business in that equation over the years...

I mean do most movie-goers (outside of many regulars at forums like HTF) even consider most such (except the occasional more epic ones) needed to be seen in theaters anymore? I certainly don't... even though I also wouldn't watch them on a tiny screen like many casual viewers might -- in fact, that was one "benefit" of the "digital" format that never really mattered to me.

IF anything, I'd think it's the big budget, epic blockbusters -- mostly sci-fi/fantasy, action flicks nowadays -- that would suffer if too many theaters disappear... and certainly, Disney (especially), et al should try to prevent that from happening...

_Man_
 

Worth

Cinematographer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2009
Messages
3,639
Real Name
Nick Dobbs
...The mid-budget movie that was the industry’s bread and butter for decades has evolved into prestige/premium television. That’s where you’ll continue to see A-list performers and talent telling more character driven stories. (And that may not be a bad thing; why should there be an arbitrary two hour limit on telling a story when the strength of the midbudget film is the characters, and the strength of television is the ability to spend more time with characters?
I caught a theatrical screening of Prince of the City about a year ago, and while I thought the film was pretty good, it struck me that this would never be made as a feature film now. It would be an HBO mini-series, and would probably be better for it.
 

Worth

Cinematographer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2009
Messages
3,639
Real Name
Nick Dobbs
...However, if the incredibly unlikely happens and theaters go out of business then the artform of movies is basically over. Studios might make comic book or Star Wars movies to sell VOD but that'll be it. Dramas, forget it. Comedies, nope. Just megabudget popcorn junk that will be watched once or twice on a laptop & quickly forgotten about. There may be still be self financed movies but they'll never really be seen since there will be no distribution for them.
Nothing ever really disappears. Movies didn't kill live theatre. Television didn't kill movies or radio. And streaming won't kill the movies. It may be diminished, but even if theatrical exhibition fails as an industry, there will still be enough of a demand for niche, cinematheque-style theatres to continue to exist.
 

TravisR

Studio Mogul
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2004
Messages
35,008
Location
The basement of the FBI building
Nothing ever really disappears. Movies didn't kill live theatre. Television didn't kill movies or radio. And streaming won't kill the movies. It may be diminished, but even if theatrical exhibition fails as an industry, there will still be enough of a demand for niche, cinematheque-style theatres to continue to exist.
I hope I'm wrong but if there's no theaters, I don't see studios spending a dime on anything other than 'sure thing' big budget established franchises because audiences aren't going to pay $20 to rent anything except those.

Fortunately, I do think theaters will continue to keep on going (even if AMC goes under) so my doomsday fears aren't likely to happen.
 

BobO'Link

Lead Actor
Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 3, 2008
Messages
6,670
Location
Mid-South
Real Name
Howie
I hope I'm wrong but if there's no theaters, I don't see studios spending a dime on anything other than 'sure thing' big budget established franchises because audiences aren't going to pay $20 to rent anything except those.
Those are the only movies that play here already. Niche or non-mainstream titles rarely, if ever, show up. We have a single theater with a dozen screens. There were supposedly building a new 8 screen theater across town but it's not yet finished. I expect it'll duplicate the same "tentpole" titles as the "main" theater. And another system has said they're building a 16 screen theater but all they've done is break ground - and that was over a year ago. We have a population of just under 80,000.
 

Josh Steinberg

Film Editor
Reviewer
Joined
Jun 10, 2003
Messages
18,564
Real Name
Josh Steinberg
I’d argue that studios are already spending that money, it’s simply that it’s transitioned to television and evolved from being under a strict two hour time limit to something more free form.

Paramount’s “Yellowstone” would have been a film rather than a show in the old way of doing things. Sony’s “Breaking Bad” would have been a film rather than a show. Same for Warner’s recent Stephen King adaptation “The Outsider,” which was a hit on HBO while their take on another one of King’s novels, “Doctor Sleep,” was a flop in traditional theatrical distribution.

The kind of high quality storytelling that used to be the exclusive provenance of theaters isn’t going away. It’s merely shifting to platforms that are rapidly becoming the preferred choice of consumers today, and with that shift, taking advantage of the ability of those platforms to present that storytelling in a variety of forms.

The recent rush in streaming investments from players like Warner with HBO Max, Disney with Disney Plus, Paramount with first their network and now CBS All Access (soon to be ViacomCBS), etc., suggests to me that high quality entertainment isn’t going away. If anything, it seems more reminiscent of the early days of film when studios created the product and owned the theaters. It speaks to the need to control the pipeline from start to finish in order to keep it all financially viable. We see better and more varied stuff on TV and streaming in the midbudget range because the math is just better there. It’s not sustainable that a movie that costs $50 million to make then must cost an additional $100 million to market, and then somehow must make back three times that combined figure in no more than three weeks in order to just break even.
 

Patrick Sun

Studio Mogul
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 30, 1999
Messages
39,337
But hey, Florida is opening up movie theaters now. What movies they are showing at the moment, who knows? Be interesting to see what safety precautions and guidelines are in effect at those Florida movie theaters going forward.
 

Mysto

Screenwriter
Joined
Feb 15, 2018
Messages
1,407
Location
Florida
Real Name
marv long
But hey, Florida is opening up movie theaters now. What movies they are showing at the moment, who knows? Be interesting to see what safety precautions and guidelines are in effect at those Florida movie theaters going forward.
So far no theaters in our area (Tampa) have opened even though they are allowed to do so.
 

Tino

Film Editor
Premium
Joined
Apr 19, 1999
Messages
17,971
Location
Metro NYC
Real Name
Valentino
But hey, Florida is opening up movie theaters now. What movies they are showing at the moment, who knows? Be interesting to see what safety precautions and guidelines are in effect at those Florida movie theaters going forward.
44661174-E355-44E2-83DB-C9F53DDF1F92.png
 

Jake Lipson

Executive Producer
Premium
Joined
Dec 21, 2002
Messages
10,667
Real Name
Jake Lipson
I think this whole discussion about theaters opening would be rendered moot if WB goes ahead and pushes Tenet.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tino

TravisR

Studio Mogul
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2004
Messages
35,008
Location
The basement of the FBI building
I think this whole discussion about theaters opening would be rendered moot if WB goes ahead and pushes Tenet.
With all the protests across the country (and the reopenings), I think it's inevitable that there's going to be quite a spike in virus numbers in at least the cities and that'll be it for a July release of Tenet. Maybe they'll move Wonder Woman and give Tenet the mid-August date but at this point, I think July is done.
 
  • Agreed
Reactions: Jake Lipson

Jake Lipson

Executive Producer
Premium
Joined
Dec 21, 2002
Messages
10,667
Real Name
Jake Lipson
Maybe they'll move Wonder Woman and give Tenet the mid-August date but at this point, I think July is done.
The thing is, the way things are going now, I seriously doubt that August will be any safer than July. At this point, I would not be surprised at all if Black Widow in November ended up being the first tentpole release back. At least, I would like to think that it might be safer in November. But pretty much everyone is playing a guessing game at this point.

WB has already restarted Tenet's ad campaign, so if they are going to make a move, they should probably do it soon before they spend even more on marketing than they already have. Wonder Woman has yet to release a second trailer -- the only footage from it was the teaser that preceded The Rise of Skywalker -- so they have a little while longer to go before they have to make a decision on that. I'm not really sure why they haven't officially admitted they have to change the release for Tenet at this point. You have theaters like Cinemark saying that they intend for all of their locations to be open by July 10, and that is obviously because it's right before Tenet and they expect to have new product available. If they won't get that, then the theater owners would benefit from knowing that as soon as possible so that they can then adjust their plans.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: TravisR

TravisR

Studio Mogul
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2004
Messages
35,008
Location
The basement of the FBI building
I'm not really sure why they haven't officially admitted they have to change the release for Tenet at this point.
I think they're hoping for a miracle drop in cases (which ain't coming) or that people just won't care and they'll go to the movies anyway (which certainly seems in the realm of possibility).
 
  • Sad
Reactions: Jake Lipson

Jake Lipson

Executive Producer
Premium
Joined
Dec 21, 2002
Messages
10,667
Real Name
Jake Lipson
I really want to be able to see Tenet on the big screen. Knowing how Nolan makes his films, it will not be the same on my 40 inch TV with stereo sound. I'm not knocking my TV, which is good, but as we all know, Nolan makes his films to be seen in the theater. And I love going to my theater. Before theaters were closed, there was rarely a weekend on the calendar when I didn't go to something. I will be delighted when I am able to safely return to a movie theater.

That being said, I suspect I will feel more comfortable going to a theater at a time later than July. I won't make a final decision until it's actually out and I actually have to, but if you asked me right now, I wouldn't be sure I felt comfortable. They will make it easier for me to decide to see it if it's pushed, than if they eep it in July. Same scenario with Disney and Mulan.

We've already seen a huge spike in cases here this week, and the protests aren't even two weeks old yet. I'm not sure I even want to imagine what the number is like two weeks from now once people who caught the virus at protests start noticing that they're ill. How the industry can believe that it is safe to restart in July I do not understand. If Tenet opens on time and then there is another big surge of cases at the beginning of August from all the people who went to see it, that's game over for the industry for a long time. I don't know how they would recover from something like that. So it's better to hold it than it is to risk it, in my opinion, if I were Warner Bros. But they haven't asked me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TravisR

Wayne_j

Cinematographer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2006
Messages
3,400
Real Name
Wayne
As recently as yesterday NATO has been saying that they expect 90% of theaters to be open by the time Tenet opens in July.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: Jake Lipson

Jake Lipson

Executive Producer
Premium
Joined
Dec 21, 2002
Messages
10,667
Real Name
Jake Lipson
If NATO actually believes that, I'd like to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge.
 

Forum Sponsors

Forum statistics

Threads
344,104
Messages
4,700,386
Members
141,166
Latest member
CalOkie