Movies & Cinema during the Pandemic? Catch-all Discussion

jcroy

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Thinking about it more, imagine a scenario where superhero films end up being played at sports stadiums (after wide bankruptcies + liquidations of movie theater chains) with professional scalpers controlling the tickets market. This would mean only the really hardcore types will end up watching first-run "theatrical" movies.

From a longer term perspective, this might very well create an entire generation where attending movies isn't any different than second tier sports events, rock concerts, etc ... Basically losing any and all "cultural significance", if it isn't mentioned at all on the news and other mainstream sources of information.

As an anecdotal example of this, my younger relatives (and their friends) don't even think about stuff like rock concerts as "big events". In contrast when I was a teenager, rock concerts were huge big events.
 

Bryan^H

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Like I said I don’t think it will ever return to Pre-Covid levels.

I don't believe that at all. But I believe by the time we get back to living normal lives, the studios will have morphed into other avenues of income away from theaters (where they weren't making enough money during this pandemic) and the general public will already have adapted to this new form of film distribution.


Of course I could be wrong. By this time next year this could all be but a bad memory, and audiences could reignite movie watching in theaters with a fierce, swift return. But I think that is just wishful thinking on my part.
 

steve jaros

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I get what you're saying and wouldn't judge people who don't want to go out again after a vaccine. But my feeling is that if you're going to stay shut away from the world in your house forever because you're afraid of dying, then that isn't really much of a life. I am staying shut away from the world in my house for the vast majority of this year because there is a virus on the loose and no vaccine. But once there is a vaccine, I look forward to going out again and resuming normal activities. Otherwise, what am I saving myself for exactly? Going between my room and my kitchen area for the rest of my life would be awfully dull. It's already getting awfully dull having done it since March, even though I can't complain because I'm safe and comfortable. When a proven vaccine arrives, I'm absolutely going to go back to the movie theater and the live theatre and otherwise.
I appreciate your POV, and respect everyone's decision as to how they are managing their lives in response to the virus. For my part, I went through an early phase, back in March and April, when I was pretty gung-ho in terms of virus vigilance. I was wiping surfaces down all the time, staying in all the time, etc. Then I read the CDC data and I came to the conclusion that I was letting the virus dominate my life too much. Covid-19 is not as lethal as a black mamba bite, and it doesn't affect everyone equally.

So looking at my risk profile, I went back to as much of a "normal" life as the government and my fellow citizens will let me. I am not an "anti-masker", I comply with the rules my local and state government have laid out about that, but I would like to see those rules changed to reflect the reality of those risks, and to the extent I am able I have gone back to doing what I was doing before - going to restaurants, movies, etc. I am a big fan of going to the movies, so being able to do that again the last month has been a big quality of life thing for me.
 

Jeff Adkins

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I agree with that, but I think it’s a mistake to blame that solely on the pandemic (and I’d imagine you’d agree at least in part).

Like I’ve said before, we’ve had tremendous innovation coinciding with a widespread lowering of costs in home entertainment in the past two decades. In the same time period, there’s been minimal innovation in the theatrical market and that lack of innovation has corresponded with rising prices.

How could that not have an effect on consumer choices?

It’s been naive and frankly poor business strategy for theaters to maintain their status quo in that period. As audiences demonstrated strong preferences for subscription pricing over a la carte in every other entertainment category, theaters held tight to pricing where one night at the movies for a family is more than the monthly cable bill - they only dipped their toe into subscription waters after MoviePass forced their hands.

Most detrimental, as attendance started to decline, theaters doubled down on finding new ways to extract ever increasing sums of money from their remaining customers, rather than trying to create an experience that would retain a wide appeal. So instead of upgrading every auditorium with state of the art equipment and recognizing that as the cost of business, they’d upgrade one auditorium and charge more for it. 3D briefly kickstarted a boom, but rather than including it as a way to give the audience something they weren’t getting at home, they charged more for it. Uncomfortable seats are being replaced with new recliners and other more comfortable options, and they’re charging customers for that too. There are more food and beverage options available, and those prices have risen too, with AMC even eliminating the smaller sizes to force consumers into paying more. Don’t want to wait in line at the theater? There’s another fee you can pay to get out of that too. Want to see the first showing of a Disney movie on opening night? There’s an extra fee for that too.

This is a business model that for years has taken the customer for granted and assumed that the customers will show up because they have no other choice. The pandemic is in some ways simply making it clear that audiences do have other choices.

This reckoning has been a long time in the making.

But it doesn’t have to be all bad. I do think that theaters will need to regroup and take a good, hard, honest look of the lay of the land to go forward. It may be that studios need to have some skin in the game and invest in those exhibition spaces. It may be that they need to change the expectation for what a theater is for. It may be the landlords and creditors need to accept that it’s not sustainable as a “Sky is the limit” venture and work on more sustainable formulas to determine rent (this is probably also true of restaurants).

But it also may be true that it’s no longer an automatic sale that people will pay large sums of money to inconveniently view mediocre quality presentations of content that will be readily available in their homes for free two or three months later. And that reckoning was always on the horizon for theaters.
Just two years ago, cinemas were setting record attendance numbers.

 

Malcolm R

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Just two years ago, cinemas were setting record attendance numbers.

Those numbers are for the UK, but yes, as the North America chart below shows, ticket sales have been pretty stable for many, many years in many areas. In North America, the number of tickets sold has ranged from 1.2 to 1.5 billion in any given year since 1995 (until this year, of course).

1601479157415.png
 
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jcroy

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(Without getting heavily into politics).

I wouldn't be surprised at all, if absolutely nothing is done over the next 3-4 months.

If anything is done (ie. a government bailout, subsidy, etc ...), I strongly suspect it will be dependent on what happens next month. In one scenario, the person calling the shots will let the industry go bankrupt by doing nothing, while constantly laughing about it on twitter and tv.
 

TravisR

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Sad thing is the health of the film industry includes millions of jobs not directly attached to Hollywood.
And even Hollywood directly employs thousands of working class people too. The millionaires on a set are dramatically outnumbered by the people who go from job to job trying to make ends meet.
 

Malcolm R

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And even Hollywood directly employs thousands of working class people too. The millionaires on a set are dramatically outnumbered by the people who go from job to job trying to make ends meet.
Yes, you frequently see tags at the end of films that "this film provided 12,000 jobs" or the like.
 
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jcroy

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Nice of those folks to waste their time signing a letter that will absolutely be ignored.
Excluding the person(s) who organized together the list, it likely only took a few minutes out of these folks' time during a lazy day.
 

jcroy

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Sad thing is the health of the film industry includes millions of jobs not directly attached to Hollywood. To penalize all of them because you disagree with the views of some studios or actors is very short-sighted.
This is very unfortunate, but not surprising at all.

Collective punishment is the end result, when the highly visible parts of the "iceberg" are making the most noises.
 
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Rob W

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And even Hollywood directly employs thousands of working class people too. The millionaires on a set are dramatically outnumbered by the people who go from job to job trying to make ends meet.
And many of us live in cities , states or provinces where the studios spend millions on local economies rather than filming in Hollywood itself.
 

Worth

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And even Hollywood directly employs thousands of working class people too. The millionaires on a set are dramatically outnumbered by the people who go from job to job trying to make ends meet.
That includes just about everyone. Most working directors and screenwriters earn around $100,000 a year - not bad, but not rich by any means, especially living in expensive cities like LA, New York and Toronto.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Yeah, $100,000 in NYC, once you take out federal, state and city income tax and health insurance premiums, doesn’t leave much to get by on. It’s insanity that it costs that much to live there but that’s the reality.

If movie theaters go dark for good, it’s not just Hollywood that takes a hit. It’s every local municipality that depended on sales and property tax revenue from theaters. It’s landlords and banks that depend on that money. It’s suppliers of food and beverage and HVAC companies. It’s local cleaning services. It’s every surrounding business that depending on the foot traffic from the theaters. It’s babysitters that watched kids while parents went out. It’ll be just as bad as when malls started dying out. The single purpose nature of the buildings and the huge footprints make it hard to find another tenant that can simply slide into that space, and the costs of demolishing the structures and rezoning the properties for something else will be more than many can bear in a recession. This won’t be replacing one failing business with a successful one. This will be a malignancy in many places that could spread to the rest of the community. For those who care about supporting and protecting small businesses and their owners, AMC and Regal may not be small businesses, but their existence supports a lot of small businesses that will struggle without them.
 
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