Movies & Cinema during the Pandemic? Catch-all Discussion

Jake Lipson

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De Santis is opening Florida businesses without restrictions.
I don't want to get into politics here so am going to ask this very generally. By "without restrictions," do you mean that movie theaters in Florida would be allowed to operate at 100% capacity? If so, that seems potentially very bad.
 

TravisR

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I don't want to get into politics here so am going to ask this very generally. By "without restrictions," do you mean that movie theaters in Florida would be allowed to operate at 100% capacity? If so, that seems potentially very bad.
Yes, 100% capacity for restaurants and bars but counties can limit that number with a reason why (presumably common sense won't meet the criteria). And totally unrelated but Florida had the most COVID related deaths in the U.S. yesterday and have had 115 straight days of near or more than 1,000 cases a day. On second thought, that may be related.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Yeah, I think it'll get a little bump but nothing that will be particularly noticeable. This is purely anecdotal but Tenet is down to playing three times a day at my local AMC. The first show had no one in it at 4 PM, the 5PM has two people in it and the 7:30 currently has 10 people (which will increase) and while those first two showtimes aren't exactly great if you have a 9 to 5 job, I still think it shows that that movie has basically had its run. People who have been waiting to see it that live in places with closed theaters will likely go but like pretty much every movie more than three weeks old, the general public has forgotten about it.
This is one of those things that’s probably unanswerable, but I think this shows the result of when you have an original property and absolutely refuse to tell anyone what it’s about. Now, I’m ok with that and am glad that even weeks after release, I know nothing about what the movie is about (and please let me keep it that way), but that’s proving to be a terrible strategy in the era of social media, mass communication and audiences loving to dissect and discuss all of the details of a thing. This strategy might have hurt them prior to the pandemic (Each of Nolan’s nonfranchise films have grossed less than the previous since Inception set the high bar, and his name doesn’t carry the same weight with a general audience as it did when he was working on Batman), but especially in these times, if you’re going to ask people to go through the potential hassles/risk of going out, it’s not unreasonable that they’d like to know what they’re going out for.

It really reminds me of Tomorrowland where Disney had a rather lovely movie but followed Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof‘s desire for extreme secrecy to the point where they forgot to sell it to an audience.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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Yes, 100% capacity for restaurants and bars but counties can limit that number with a reason why (presumably common sense won't meet the criteria). And totally unrelated but Florida had the most COVID related deaths in the U.S. yesterday and have had 115 straight days of near or more than 1,000 cases a day. On second thought, that may be related.
That’s frightening. I have a lot of family down there and I worry about them more and more.
 

Jake Lipson

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This is one of those things that’s probably unanswerable, but I think this shows the result of when you have an original property and absolutely refuse to tell anyone what it’s about.
What's crazy to me is that you absolutely can have a movie with surprise twists and turns that is marketed well enough to get people in the door without spilling anything. It obviously wasn't a Hollywood tentpole, so this isn't a one-to-one comparison, but the best recent example I can think of is Parasite. The trailer gives you a decent idea of what the opening premise of the movie is, but Neon was really careful to stop short of revealing the twist, and how the movie changed after that. If you've seen the movie, you know what I'm talking about, and if you don't I won't say anything. I felt like they struck a really good balance between telling me enough to make me interested in seeing the rest of it and not telling me anything that would ruin the movie. It just requires some creativity on the part of the marketing department.

I saw the very first teaser trailer for Tenet back last October on Joker. It was maybe a minute or so long. I thought, "That looks cool," and that was enough for a teaser. Once it became clear that I was going to have to miss the movie in theaters, I decided not to watch the second trailer. But I do wonder, if the virus hadn't happened and Tenet had opened in July after a string of tentpole blockbusters, whether that might have helped. WB would have been able to play the trailer in front of Wonder Woman for sure, and probably also other studios' tentpoles like Black Widow and Top Gun, which would have helped to introduce the concept to moviegoers who were already in their seats for the known-quantity films. That is one of the reasons I was really surprised that they actually chose to go with Tenet being one of the first films back, because they didn't really have the opportunity to tag the marketing onto other big films in advance.

The other thing about the high water mark you mentioned with Inception is that it combined the drawing power of Nolan's name with the drawing power of Leonardo DiCaprio, who is one of a very small group of stars who can still open a movie just because he's in it. Interstellar, which wasn't as big as Inception but still did well, had Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and several other big names in supporting roles. In comparison, Tenet has Robert Pattinson, who is still mostly known for Twilight at this point. John David Washington was terrific in BlacKkKlansman, but he is not a household name. So Tenet has been sold even more on just Nolan's name than those films were. I don't mean this as a slight against any of the actors in Tenet, who are probably very good in the movie, but it obviously helps at the box office when you combine a famous director with recognizable actors.

Belated edit only to correct a typo.
 
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jcroy

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The other thing about the high water mark you mentioned with Inception is that it combined the drawing power of Nolan's name with the drawing power of Leonardo DiCaprio, who is one of a very small group of stars who can still open a movie just because he's in it.
(On a tangent).

Besides DiCaprio, who else is still in this category of folks who can still open a big movie based on them being in it?

The only other names I can think of offhand, might be folks like Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt.
 

TravisR

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(On a tangent).

Besides DiCaprio, who else is still in this category of folks who can still open a big movie based on them being in it?

The only other names I can think of offhand, might be folks like Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt.
I'd say that Tom Hanks can also open a movie. Outside of a few actors, the audience far more focused on franchises than stars now.
 

Malcolm R

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I think The Rock is about the only sure thing these days. Tom Cruise is only reliable in the Mission: Impossible franchise. Brad Pitt has a mixed record and not many films over the past few years, but Ad Astra and Allied were box office disappointments. Once Upon a Time in America was a hit, but also an ensemble cast and a Tarantino film.

Recent Tom Hanks films like Inferno, The Circle, The Post, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood all likely broke even or came close, but none were blockbusters. Denzel Washington is kind of in the same boat, more break-even than blockbuster.

DiCaprio is hard to evaluate, as the only films he's released in the past 5 years are The Revenant and Once Upon a Time in America, both big hits but, again, both ensemble casts with critically-acclaimed directors.
 

Robert Crawford

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I think The Rock is about the only sure thing these days. Tom Cruise is only reliable in the Mission: Impossible franchise. Brad Pitt has a mixed record and not many films over the past few years, but Ad Astra and Allied were box office disappointments. Once Upon a Time in America was a hit, but also an ensemble cast and a Tarantino film.

Recent Tom Hanks films like Inferno, The Circle, The Post, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood all likely broke even or came close, but none were blockbusters. Denzel Washington is kind of in the same boat, more break-even than blockbuster.

DiCaprio is hard to evaluate, as the only films he's released in the past 5 years are The Revenant and Once Upon a Time in America, both big hits but, again, both ensemble casts with critically-acclaimed directors.
Denzel's "The Equalizer" movies made money. I do agree that the Rock has serious box office appeal.
 

TravisR

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Tom Cruise is only reliable in the Mission: Impossible franchise.
Isn't Cruise still a pretty sure thing internationally though?



DiCaprio is hard to evaluate, as the only films he's released in the past 5 years are The Revenant and Once Upon a Time in America, both big hits but, again, both ensemble casts with critically-acclaimed directors.
But that's DiCaprio's move. When he's in a movie now, the audience knows it's got some other major league talent involved.

Just as an aside, I like that DiCaprio knows his lane. He's got the kind of clout where he could do anything but he isn't writing and directing and he isn't trying to start a franchise around the movie he's a star of and he isn't getting a cameo in an existing franchise so he can make $50 million when he's a big part of a fifth movie in that series. As far as I know, most of what he does that isn't acting is working on environmental documentaries.
 

Malcolm R

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Isn't Cruise still a pretty sure thing internationally though?
Not really. In the past 10 years, his [non-M:I] films generally top out in the $100-150 million range internationally (domestic usually adds $50-80m). His biggest worldwide success in recent years was "The Mummy" ($330 million international; $80m domestic), but that cost so much to make and market that it still lost money.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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With the possible exception of The Rock, I don’t think anyone can open a film on name recognition alone. At this point, for those larger grosses, it’s entirely the properties, and appearing in a billion dollar franchise does not give an individual actor credit towards a non-franchise project.

Before the pandemic, it cost a lot to see a movie in a theater, but the same content would routinely be available on a subscription streaming service virtually for free about three months later. For non-franchise pictures, the theatrical release had already been turning more into an advertisement for the eventual home release than anything else. There’s a reason the industry and their digital and retail partners have been offering preorders of the home version starting on the day the film opens theatrically.
 
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