It’s more of a Come-to-Jesus: the studios and the exhibitors, really, you have to work together.
Heard you tried working together for months during the pandemic, before PrincipeOpening scheduled for July. But there was a lot of division, not only between you, but also between rival studios.
If there ever was a gap between exhibition and distribution, it is now. Some say it’s a systemic failure.
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As of this writing, word is bubbling up that San Diego County could revert to a purple area, which could impact and shut down theaters (Oh, but don’t worry, Kohl’s will stay open). Due to Wonder Woman 1984, Candyman, Greenland, and Black WidowMoving deeper into the schedule, some exhibitors may have to close Monday through Wednesday, given the lack of product over the next month. The next major studio releases are 20th Century Studios / Disney Death on the Nile and Sony Lord & Miller’s Connected. But really, the desert footage for the exhibit will last until November 20, when MGM’s 007 feature film No time to die finally opens. Already, for its theaters located in smaller markets, Exhibitor No.2 Regal plans to cut its show hours to stay financially strong.
“This is the worst thing that could have happened,” a top circuit insider said of the 2020 theatrical release schedule, “having Principe open and nothing behind. This is the worst possible outcome and we needed it Mulan a blow of two shots behind.
“You want consumer confidence, because that will never be resolved,” says a buyer of the chain who preferred to remain confidential. “As exhibitors, we have to stay open.”
So how do we get out of this?
The general message about safety in theaters, aka the National Theater Owners Association’s CinemaSafe program, needs to be louder – like, a lot STRONGER and worth repeating.
Reopening New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, whatever the situation, will not by itself solve our box office problems overnight.
“It’s not as simple as Principe At the box office. It’s a much bigger psychological problem, ”says a rival studio manager of filming during the pandemic. “There are a lot of mixed stimuli that are safe and unsafe right now, and it’s in all industries. This is conditioned behavior, and for six months we are told that you can be hurt if you are inside a place away from home.
The message that cinemas are safer than restaurants and bars, and that there are no known cases of COVID-19 linked to cinemas, has not been recorded in the state of mind of the public, and certainly not with New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who continues to hold multiplex re-openings for AC ventilation issues.
This is despite the fact that gymnasiums, restaurants and casinos (casinos!) Are open in the Empire State. I’m told this week that New York health officials will be inspecting theaters in the state, which is teetering at a very good 1% infection rate. Although they were among the first establishments before the closure in mid-March to create social distancing, additional cleaning and contactless settings for their clientele, theaters have been vilified. I understand that there are a lot of people behind the scenes and in touch with the public, such as Jane Rosenthal, CEO of Tribeca Enterprises, who is the industry ally when communicating with Cuomo when we reopen. an exhibition. She recently developed the governor’s PSA campaign “Mask Up America”, starring Paul Rudd, Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro, which had 22 million views nationwide. I’ve heard that filmmakers and stars have been pressuring Cuomo behind the scenes, and we have yet to see the Governor concede.
Among those asked if they would return to the movies now and feel comfortable about it, there are three groups: avid explorers (84%), social skeptics (35%), and health advocates. , according to NRG. It is the older, liberal-leaning social skeptics, usually living in coastal towns (Christopher Nolan’s audience) who need the most immediate nudges. However, the demo wants to hear that it’s safe to go back, not from an exhibition boss or a Kardashian, but rather from the health officials themselves.
Also in the same NRG COVID-19 study of Monday’s moviegoers, 51% of moviegoers are comfortable or somewhat comfortable returning to the theater during the pandemic – a number that has risen from 20% to 30% in recent years. weeks I am told by studio sources. However, 49% are still uncomfortable. Complicating matters further, and perhaps another reason there was no box office rush for Principe While US cinemas in San Diego and New Jersey opened at the last minute during its opening weekend, only 41% of all potential moviegoers recently knew their local theater was, in fact, open.
Of the many people I have spoken to, they categorically state that it is not the studio’s job, nor the responsibility of filmmakers or stars, to send the message that theaters are safe. This is the work of the exhibition. I’m calling the bulls *** on it. But more on that in a minute.
A number of sources I’ve spoken to criticize the National Association of Theater Owners for being slow with the CinemaSafe campaign, which it was last minute. That said, the show’s organization isn’t a marketing organization, and they’ve had their hands full during the pandemic, battling theatrical window issues (Troll world tour), and interference with DC lawmakers trying to get financial aid from closed exhibitors. Warner Bros., I hear, is getting additional props for their behind-the-scenes help with making the CinemaSafe program. As such, we need more studios involved.
Essentially, CinemaSafe’s message is to be broadcast nationwide in television commercials. It cannot be preached only to the choir on theater screens. Perhaps a medical expert should be included in such advertisements. I understand that Dr Anthony Fauci even accepted the security protocols suggested by NATO. The general public needs to know this. Maybe TV spots for movie trailers need to be tagged at the end, with an emphasis on CinemaSafe. If Disney + and Netflix can run TV commercials for brand recognition for their streaming service, the movie industry needs to step up and work on a better PSA if they want anyone to come back to the movies.
What about a NATO-commissioned medical study showing that it is actually safe to be in a movie theater, socially distant, wearing a mask and with strangers? From what we know so far, no one has contracted COVID-19 in a movie theater. Such a study could go a long way in convincing stars that it is okay to promote a movie, or even support the cinema.
But who will pay for this?
The exhibition is strapped for cash and has been closed for months. That’s why they need the help of the studios. Majors, you don’t have to send or administer the message that it’s safe to go back to the movies. But you can help foot the advertising bill. Hey studios, you financially helped the digital and 3D exhibition revolution, so why can’t you help fund the national PR campaign to get back to theaters?
A theater chain boss told me yesterday that they were going to film video testimonials of consumers leaving the theater and post them on social media to generate positive word-of-mouth. Seriously, well done on that. Loyalty programs should send out dormant lists as soon as possible on theater security, even when theaters are closed in specific markets. AMC has already achieved record customer cleanliness remarks over the past three weeks.
Studio marketing executives praised Nordstrom for the way they used social media influencers to attract anxious buyers; that it’s the same kind of tact that should be implemented in this scenario with theaters. This may be the key to attracting 52% of teens and 51% of women under 25 who are uncomfortable or not going to the theater in the latest statistics from NRG.
And, big circuit show, if the distributors end up saving your hides, you need to lean too. Don’t worry, they still believe the big screen is the channel for later windows revenue. But if they’ve left you with some big-name fall releases, maybe it’s time to experiment with PVOD day and date counters with an independent distributor and see what happens. We are in a pandemic, and nothing is final in the business until we go out. Voltage’s teen YA sequel After our collision, distributed by Open Road / Briarcliff, hits theaters and PVOD on October 23, but the big three circuits are turning their noses despite the photo that cleared half a million in Canada this weekend.
Jonathan Deckter, President and COO of Voltage Pictures, said, “There is no doubt that we need exposure not only to survive, but also to thrive, in order to sustain the entire ecosystem of the. independent cinema. What we don’t understand is why major operators in the United States continue to handcuff each other during this pandemic and not shoot day and date movies. For example, our national partners on After our collision (which is the ONLY English-language film that does pre-pandemic business wherever it’s released overseas, $ 23million through its second week in 20 markets) Open Road / Briarcliff are unable to reserve some channels because we are also posting digitally on the same day so the faithful After fans have same day access to the film. It seems that the exhibition would rather not have new content, as the studios keep pushing their films, rather than temporarily adapting to the times.
There was too much pressure on Principe to be considered the feature that would save the domestic box office, and some say it was still too early for theaters to reopen with no vaccines in sight.
It will just take patience and time before moviegoers are quite comfortable returning.