Americans are watching more movies than ever, but they’re watching at home. The studios are on board in a big way.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.
Movie theaters have for years been dogged by a structural shift in how Americans increasingly watch movies: at home on a big screen. The whole family can watch for a song, and popcorn is cheap. Box office sales peaked in 2002 at 1.58 billion tickets. By 2019, sales had dropped 22% to 1.23 billion tickets, despite 17 years of population growth. On a per-capita basis, ticket sales plunged by 31%. This was part of the long-running brick-and-mortar meltdown that also sank department stores. Then came the pandemic.
Amid theater closures across the US during parts of the year, and insurmountable reluctance by many potential moviegoers to go to the theaters that were open, box-office ticket sales in 2020 collapsed by 82% to just 224 million tickets, according to movie data provider The Numbers. It may well have been the worst year since the era of talkies began:
Through 2019, the way movie theaters tried to deal with this structural decline in moviegoers was by raising ticket prices, offering big comfortable chairs to justify those ticket prices, installing bars with overpriced beer and food, and cranking up prices for popcorn and sodas. Fewer people paying a lot more money was the trick to maintain revenue growth.
And because going to the movies got so expensive and because much cheaper options have increasingly been available on the big screen at home, the number of tickets sold continued to drop. Go figure.
The average ticket price has increased by 100% since 1997 to $9.16 in 2019 and 2020, according to The Numbers. Over the same period, the inflation index CPI has increased 64%. In many markets, tickets are cheaper. In others, tickets are much higher. In San Francisco, when theaters were still open, a ticket at a multiplex without specials would set you back about $15. The chart shows the average ticket price, based on total box office revenues divided by total tickets sold:
The surge in ticket prices successfully outpaced the decline in the number of tickets sold through 2018. And box office revenues rose through 2018, reaching a record of $11.9 billion. However, in 2019, revenues fell. And in 2020 revenues collapsed by 82% to $2.05 billion:
The 10 top grossing movies in 2020, all of them, were released before the Pandemic, either in December 2019 or in early 2020. Everything that was released after mid-March completely fizzled in movie theaters – and people were watching them at home as streaming exploded (data via The Numbers):
|Movie||Release Date||Distributor||Gross, 2020, million $|
|1||Bad Boys For Life||17-Jan-2020||Sony Pictures||204|
|3||Sonic The Hedgehog||14-Feb-2020||Paramount||146|
|4||Jumanji: The Next Level||13-Dec-2019||Sony Pictures||125|
|5||Star Wars: The Rise of Skwalker||20-Dec-2019||Walt Disney||124|
|6||Birds of Prey||7-Feb-2020||Warner Bros.||84|
|8||The Invisible Man||28-Feb-2020||Universal||65|
|9||The Call of the Wild||21-Feb-2020||20th Century||62|
Cinema chains and independent theaters are teetering near the brink. The stimulus bill that was passed in December has some money for small cinema operators. AMC, the largest movie theater chain, is currently trying to raise new funds by selling shares at $2.50 a share to stave off a bankruptcy filing.
But Americans are watching movies more than ever. They’re just watching them at home. That trends started years ago. And it exploded during the Pandemic.
Studios are now shifting new releases to their streaming services, bypassing theaters altogether, or they’re releasing movies simultaneously in theaters and on their streaming services, which is what Warner Brothers, owned by AT&T, did with “Wonder Woman 1984,” which was released over Christmas in theaters and on AT&T’s HBO.
Disney announced in October that its “creative engines will focus on developing and producing original content for the Company’s streaming services,” after having already released “Mulan” directly on its one-year old and booming subscription service Disney+ where the entire family could watch it for $29.99. On December 25, Disney released its Pixar animated movie, “Soul,” on Disney+ instead of in theaters.
Going forward, at some point the Pandemic will fade, as pandemics do. But who will be returning to the movie theaters to watch something they could watch at home for less, when movies are released simultaneously in theaters and on streaming services?
Surely, there will be some people who love going to the movies, people who want to make an event out of it. They might sandwich it between dinner and drinks, or vice versa, like people going to plays, musicals, the opera, concerts, comedy shows, etc. But the numbers are just not the same. Movies are for the masses. They’re for everyone. Big multiplexes are everywhere to serve the masses.
The long-term downtrend of ticket sales was dismal enough before the Pandemic. Now the Pandemic has shown consumers and studios alike that debuting a movie on their streaming services works.
The hope is that pent-up demand will emerge after the Pandemic and that there will be a burst of moviegoers who want to get out of the house and gorge on a bucket of overpriced popcorn with fake butter and be surrounded by hundreds of people, all watching the same thing with rapt attention. It’s an American ritual. And the hope is that this ritual doesn’t fall by the wayside. Everyone is counting on this pent-up demand.
But then there are the long-term trends that the Pandemic accelerated. Streaming isn’t going to just disappear. And since the big studios have their own streaming services, the profit motive comes into play from that side of the equation – they no longer need theaters as much.
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Hollywood really benefited from The Great Inflation. It’s good to be the Boss.
Hollywood is not the boss. The boss is Silicon valley, and Silicon valley is annihilating the hollywood…
I wonder what impact on social life this will have. Imagine being an 18 year old nowadays, what do you do for fun, no school, no meeting with friends, no dating, no drinks, pretty depressing.
What 18 year olds (at least the boys) do for fun now is play online videogames together. They have voice chat together while they’re playing and it’s a combination of team strategy, smack talking, and normal teenage behavior (for better or worse). But yes, on the dating side it has to be rough.
I see no shortage of kids meeting and playing at local parks or cycling, mostly mask free. I only wish the kids were all at home. Many studies indicate kids are spreaders of Covid.
The kids could care less because most know they wont develop symptoms.
I don’t know which is worse the kids or the adult joggers who run (mask free) into groups of people.
Asymptomatic spread is already disproven. You are an anti science conspiracy theorist
Not. From two days ago:
“You are an anti science conspiracy theorist”
Ad hominem attacks are the norm, now a days. Just look at the press.
Who do you believe?! Multiple studies say it doesn’t, then cdc does study that says it does. Masks work here, but mask don’t work here. .study vs another study. At the end of the day everyone is going to be exposed to it until herd immunity is reached. What you need to decide is if getting the vaccine is worth the risk…
It’s not like the CDC changes their mind more than windshield wipers
“What nobody knew at the time was that two staff members had been exposed, at home, to school-age children infected with COVID-19. Because the children were asymptomatic, the parents had no reason not to come to work — so they did — and underwent routine COVID-19 testing, as well.
“They worked multiple shifts back to back in the four days it took to get their results,” O’Keeffe said. “They were asymptomatic for the duration of their illness. They had no idea that they had it.””
An entire nursing home was infected by two asymptomatic staff members.
Wolf should read more carefully. It was not a study. It is a computer model. Other (actual) studies indicate that asymptomatic people are unlikely to be infectious.
Technically, these folks are PRE-symptomatic, not asymptomatic
But they are asymptomatic at the time they are shedding virus
Huh? It’s well described in the literature that at least 40% of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, particularly in young people based on antibody studies.
There’s only one good thing about COVID and any viruses that follow. It’s a good incentive for older folks to stay in shape, eat right, exercise daily, etc., if possible, and it will lead to better health overall for some people. If you let yourself go to heck, you are asking for trouble.
More to your point, I don’t think we can rely on other people to distance 100% of the time, especially kids and younger generations. It’s unrealistic.
You should try running with a mask on.
I do it all the time. Works fine. I use a mask that is rigid and basket-shaped; this type of mask has more surface area due to this shape and doesn’t press against your lips when you inhale. It’s made out of surgical mask material, not cotton, and so it doesn’t get soggy. Would I prefer to run without mask? Sure. But this is a pandemic, and we have to protect each other.
Wolf, there is literally no evidence of the viability of mask wearing for outdoor exercise. It might make you feel virtuous to do this but it’s not necessary. Indoor environments are way more risky unless you are in a large crowd.
Yeah, when you’re out there by yourself. But I’m running along the shore of San Francisco, with lots of people around. Sure, indoors is a lot riskier, but outdoors is risky too. It’s a probability on a sliding scale, as you should know. I don’t understand people that are still grasping at straws to justify not wearing a mask. People in the US are dying of Covid at a rate of 10 widebody jet crashes PER DAY. And you’re still arguing against masks?
I consider a mask our #1 defense against an airborne virus spreading….seems self evident to me……I still have an almost year old N95 my sister got somewhere (old hospital contacts). Rubber bands broke and I made a nifty two piece 1″ wide velcro stretch band and stapled it on. Easy on and off and secure. It’s getting a little clogged, but I figure it’s just more filtering both directions, and maybe even some lung muscle exercise. Virus can’t live long in it.
Nobody minds laws about required clothing in various places, so a little mask is no big deal, yes?
Keep on spreading disinformation
The 20 somethings are watching all versions of Star Trek, Dr. Who, and the Marx Brothers movies.
I would change that to The office, Mandalorian, and Netflix.
Dr Who IMO has struck out with the last 2 doctors.
Nah, the last 3 doctors..
The young people don’t understand The Office, think Starwars is now awful, and Netflix boring. I never liked Dr Who, so don’t get why it is still popular. And Netflix is getting boring, they need to bring back reviews.
The office is obsolete with the same fate as bookstores, record stores, movie theaters and on and on and on and
Can confirm. I even had a early start on Star Trek.
If you have an Amazon Firestick and learn how to program it, you can get a whole lot more programming for little or no cost, but you may have to put up with some commercials.
My 14 yr. old grandson has what his mom calls his “pod”. Its a tight little group of half a dozen boys who get together at each others houses. Grandparents are strictly forbidden as are all outsiders and it allows them to control best they can. These are all kids who have parents who are doctors, lawyers, one CEO etc. and they are being careful and smart about it. So far so good.
Our neighbor girl also has a very small pod. A few friends, whose families are pretty much locked down. They can go to each other’s homes, watch movies and have fun. All age 13.
They also hired their own teacher and split the costs for it probably. Not everyone can do this.
– “I wonder what impact on social life this will have…”
It will accelerate the shift of the social life into the world of digital communication.
I always come to this site for articles, and the comments.
It helps me understand what my area of flyover is going through.
Some of the madness has made its way out here. Naturally in our schools. All sports must wear masks. Showers are shut. Takes 3 buses
to achieve social distancing if the team is traveling.
The best is wrestlers. Yes, they are required to wear masks. And after the match…they are not allowed to shake hands!
I miss the early days of SNL, and South Park.
Kids don’t date anymore lol. Sexually active teens dropped from about 40% in 1990 to 27% currently.
Fun? Play video games or chat with your friends online. 99% of teen boys play video games, 94% of teen girls play video games. People don’t really meet in person often anyways.
Drinking has dropped with sex. Teenage drinking has dropped between 50%+ from 1991 to 2018
Your age is showing ha
Good grief. Ask any 18 year old how Tinder works. No problem. A socially awkward repressed Irish Catholic teenager of the 70s would have had a far better time of it if Tinder had been around. Just saying for a friend!
Nine of the ten films on that list would not interest me in the least. As to that one, I picked up a perfectly good used copy on DVD for the price of one of those shares of AMC. If it’s a winner I add it to the library which takes up less space than I would need for all that cash people send away for streaming. If it sucks, at least I’ve got a new coaster, frisbee, or ornament for a Christmas tree (hang ’em along with those shiny dead charge cards of the past). Why? Back in the ’90’s when those ticket prices began to jump, one adult and child ended up at about $30 to sit through two hours of schlock flash that was less enjoyable than Jason and the Argonauts in the early ’60’s. Just more re-hashing of what stuff they did before with even worse acting, lousier dialogue, horrible sound engineering where music is used to drown out speech. Basically little more than lighting tricks they learned starting around 1968. Like the Lectroid leader said, “Big deal.”.
Hollywood keeps pumping out politicized cultural sewage, produced by tribal cohorts that *had* a lock on popular culture which has slipped from their grip.
Now we get low quality video projected crap like chicks with balls flics and computer animated cartoons that they expect a family to dish out $40 to see, plus $10 parking, possible car break ins, hideously overpriced high fructose corn syrup obesity treats, jackasses on cell phones around you who never got the cultural memo about talking out loud in libraries or theaters?
Along with pods mentioned above, our society is going to self-segregate into familial, racial, authentic communities and self interested shared values groups which doesn’t bode well for Biden’s backers living on the Malibu shoreline.
You know the tune. Here’s a rewritten lyric:
“To Hell With Hollywood, they haven’t produced lately anything that’s good…”
That’s almost word for word the argument that lead to the adoption of the Hayes Code in 1934.
Chicks with balls flicks?’ll lol, not Hollywood. That is pure indie. Hollywood is pretty conservative in general with big budget films.
They are running out of ideas. Star trek predicted that in the 60’s.
BuySome funny you should mention Jason and the Argonauts, I just watched that last week, recorded off of TCM. Considering it was made in 1963, the skeleton sword fight holds up very well. Unfortunately, the sword fight is the end of the movie, right in the MIDDLE OF THE STORY. As I kid I cared only about seeing all the effects, but as an adult I was invested in the story. All I got was Zeus looking down from Mt Olympus, “Well, we’ll pick this up another day.” (that’s literally his line) Very disappointing. It’s as if Peter Jackson had made only the first Lord of the Rings movie. As bad as the stories may be in modern movies, at least they finish them.
I went to the last showing at my local movie theater in March. They were giving away all of the concession food and, after the movie, I saw the manager walking out of the theater, and her career, with a bag of hot dogs. It was a very sad sight.
That is sad.
However, the product has not been worth the price for a long time. Plus, discretionary income decline has forced people to choose.
What I have also noticed (in Canada) is the death of bars. When I was a kid I made a wage of (in draft beer) about 25 beers an hour. I was an apprentice. Now, they make about 4/hr. Smokes were 40 cents per pack at KMart. $4 per carton vrs $100. Okay, taxation and cancer concerns killed that as well, but in my rural logging valley we have ONE watering hole. It is closed by 8:00pm on a Friday night, and that was pre pandemic. Drunk driving home? $1500 fine and 6 months suspension plus increased insurance costs. My home town had at least 10 of what we called, beer parlours. Now, there are none beyond a few trendy pubs and the town is 10X as large. Oh, a local Hells Angel owns a new peeler bar for the young set. (Closed, of course in the pandemic).
People just stay home and/or hang with friends.
You want to ever own a home as a wage earner? That means few meals out and limited drinking, period. Movies are somewhere below that pecking order.
However, the product has not been worth the price for a long time. Plus, discretionary income decline has forced people to choose.
This will be the story of our lives going forward. It will be coming for autos as Wolf has amply documented.
Are these comments indicative of Michael Hudson’s ‘debt deflation’ narrative? Maybe so. We must begin considering how we got here, and how we are going to get away from here.
Before we get all misty-eyed & cry in our beer we can no longer afford, here are the numbers:
Maybe discretionary income (aka: disposable personal income) has declined in Canada, but not the US.
o $7,800 US disposable personal income in 2000
o $19,000 US disposable personal income in 2019
From 2000 to 2019, Disposable Personal Income grew at a compound rate of 4.8%/year (yea, some, but not all of that has been lost to inflation)
If you believe that kinky, you might be better off drinking done of that beer Paulo refered to. Of course disposable income has declined for most working folk in US. What you’re looking at is aggregate income
So yah…Nancy’s & Yellen’s and Obama’s disposable income has gone up. Way way way up.
site is plainly labeled disposable income
The 2019 dollar doesn’t buy the same as the 2000 dollar. Those numbers tell us nothing.
First there is inflation eating it as you point out. Second this is an average and there are no averages in life only your reality which for a vast swath of people will be less rosy I wager.
You guys can come up with all the excuses you want, but he facts plainly show disposable income growing faster than inflation. I also understand the difference between average & median.
Unfortunately, this puts a dent in your shibboleth.
I linked to a credible objective source; you’ve responded with uninformed opinions (to which you are entitled).
what would that chart look like if it was ex-bezos, zuckeberg, and a handful of others?
1) Bezos, Zuckerberg, Musk DO NOT OWN THE MAJORITY OF THEIR COMPANY STOCK. Millions of Joe-sixpac investors have cumulatively made billions from gains on those stocks
2) Put your big-boy pants on a go do the research yourself
Back in ‘72 a judge asked
me how many beers I’d had. Easy to figure as I’d started with $6 and spent it all. “24,” I answered. “Ten days in jail,” he replied. Lesson learned: The truth has no place in a court of law.
Perhaps that’s the plan. Sobriety by CPI inflation.
“Painting the Perfect Screen for $100”
For about the price of four people going to the movies twenty times, around $1,000, one can paint a wall in their home or garage, reuse an old computer, buy a video projector and a surround sound system with speakers.
Tens of thousands of films, tv shows, available to view. Streaming services, Amazon Prime videos included, and free Youtube, [use firefox with Adblocker Ultimate] zero ads.
The results will be as good, or better than, your typical suburban movie theater which now uses video projection as well with all the advantages of home.
Disney still hasn’t shared how well Mulan has done in its experiment in real dollar terms. They must be hiding the secrets of its success, don’t want anyone else to rake in billions using the same method… ?
The “same method” is to copy s movie you own that was popular in the past century.
Mulan overall works because is the type on movie that does work as live Action..The Lion king on CGI was so badly done is clear they did not even do test audiences.
What’s next? Live action Pinocchio?
Actually yes. There is a live action Pinocchio coming out. If its not already available.
If Milan was a success Disney would have crowed about it during their earnings call in November.
Yes both AC and Inter are leading Italian Serie A as of now .
A possible use of these dead movie theaters is for homeless shelters. Cities can buy them up (or just take them over) and use them with some minor modifications. Plus, potentially free popcorn and movies! Free parking too!
And you can roll downhill in your sleeping bag if you get turned crosswise.
That is funny Paulo.
All the old cheap movie theaters in Time Square were basically homeless shelters, until they closed them.
Turn it back to the 70s…..they were peep shows. Although I don’t think you could even get anyone to go to them agan!
Turn it back to the 50s–I know–they were all third and fourth run family movies. “Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and even some Marx Brothers. The porno started in the early to mid 60s.
And peepshows when I was there in 1981.
In 1975, I was checking wages at a corner candy store at 56th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan. The guy who was managing the store looked out of place, wearing a suit. He said that he and his partners had taken over the store and the lease figuring the location was a key for any high going up on the block.
He told me that a “goombah” type had come around and said there was money to be made putting in two coin-operated peep shows in the candy store. He turned down the offer. The store’s lease had no demolition clause in it, so he could sell the lease to a property developer when the economy improved. Within a year, it did along that strip of Second Avenue. This pretty young guy had a European appearance and he played his cards right while everyone was saying NYC was finished.
He and his partners must have made out like bandits.
I gather you made it to the Mitchell Brothers for Behind The Green Door, very popular with the Ornamentals on tourist visas into porno at the time, along with the North Beach entertainment and Carol Doda with her “twin peaks”. Maybe drive-ins with EV charging stations could make a go of it for a blast from the past with a little paradise under the dashboard lights. A drive-in beats having your shoes stick to the floors and the sidewalks of Market Street, especially when the Zebra Killers were doing their killings.
Or maybe prisons. For profit or course. I believe the incoming team have experience with that. And finding ways to herd the homeless into prisons will create a vast super cheap labor pool. Maybe Facebook & Amazon can into that to help support the new team.
I seriously doubt that would work well.
Movie theaters are typically located in B grade commercial land (sometimes A grade) and their buildings cannot really be converted into anything else. Considering the value of commercial land is about to plummet, the most logical thing to do is to simply let them default on their existing debts without much consequence. A city won’t likely gain anything by repossessing entertainment places like movie theaters (and converting or destroying them) and would be best off wiping their debts and seeing if they can make themselves substainable, while giving them subsidies might not be worthwhile (depends on type of entertainment place), tax breaks might be ideal and would give the city more attractions.
New movie theatres can be scaled very easily to be bigger or smaller and now that they have mostly converted to digital projecters, can have individual auditoriums play different movies at different times of the day. So i do expect the vast majority of cities to have movie theaters going forward, new movie theatres will likely be smaller though. Actual ticket sales will depend on the quality of movies being produced, consumers disposable income, and just how lazy Americans are in the near future.
I would rather chew my own arm off than got to another movie theatre.
Full discloser: the last movie theatre experience I had was “Gravity” in a 3D IMAX in 2013. Cost me $35 for ticket, popcorn, drink & fancy chair (this was in FL, not SF or NYC).
3-D movie was stunning (only one I’ve seen), but the theatre smelled, was noisy, had 25 minutes of loud commercials, and, oh yea -sticky floors. Kids behind me put their feet up on the chair beside me.
How do you figure theaters can scale to be bigger or smaller? The building is made of concrete.
They can split up the screens to turn one in to two etc. This is what they did in the mid 1980s when many chains went bust because of the high price of the palace picture houses that had been built at the height of moviegoing in the 1940s. They just built a wall down the middle.
They are a variety of ways to change the size of theatres, new theatres can be made smaller without negatively impacting them in a way that would effect other entertainment venues. It’s also pretty easy for existing theatres to extend out their hallways and add auditoriums, the inverse is also pretty easy.
Perhaps the government will use the movie theatres as was shown in A Clockwork Orange. First for the re-education of Trumpies, then for the rest of us.
Repurpose the theaters into KTV Asian-style party houses. Booze, loud music, weed, sex, etc.
They could get the crowds going again. Just need some imagination.
It’s just like the pro sports stadiums, see those empty bleachers? They priced me out long ago. Fortunately, the owners of teams are still getting the TV revenues, and the taxpayers, small businesses, and cities who paid for the stadiums are getting the shaft.
Yup…!!! It’s like $300 for a decent hockey seat. Last year my son won free tickets for the best seats in the house, Oilers and Canucks. Plus, free hotel room. I think my free ticket still cost me about $600 by the time I added up expenses.
When you went to the fights, did a hockey game break out?
Around here, we call hockey “ice boxing”!
That line is from 1981. Hardy Har Har.
There is hardly any fighting in hockey anymore.
Had to make it PC for USA tv revenue.
My friend splits San Jose Sharks season tickets with another guy. I think their cost is $85 per seat per game. They get two seats and split the season up so that they each get two seats half the time. My friend often has a free seat and invites me to go to the games with him. I buy dinner and he provides the seats. It’s a nice evening out and I don’t think it’s too expensive. Ice hockey I think is one of the best sports to watch live, it’s almost constant action and not that many breaks, and when there are breaks, they are very very creative with the entertainment to keep things interesting.
Should have said, I buy dinner + beer … there’s always some beer involved …
Buddy of mine lives in Nevada and all state residents are now on the hook for $750 million for the new Raiders stadium in Vegas.
Makes everyone oh so happy.
Hey, that’s not even a Billion! No big deal to get a good team With expensive coach, managers and players.
It could be worse. Look at St. Louis’ stadium for the Rams.
Movie theaters, malls, brick+mortar retail and entertainment establishments, resort, hotels, indoor dining, office towers, taxis, trains, planes, cruises, buses, and more– all candidates for chopping block thanks to pandemic responses.
It looks like authorities are expecting their pandemic to last for quite awhile, so I expect carnage to continue indefinitely.
Gone along with newspaper vending machines, phone booths, chrome bumpers, cigarette machines, record players, eight track tapes and CB radios.
Record players are definitely not gone. The new tech for record pressing is something I’m looking forward to.
Almost all new music is digitally recorded at 96k and 24 bit. So few people have SACD players, or gear to take advantage of the superiority of SACDs over CDs, that artists do not release albums on SACD.
The new tech for vinyl takes the high res digital signal and converts it to a 3D topography which is laser cut into a ceramic plate. This plate stamps out the vinyl records, but unlike a lathe-cut stamper (which is a copy of a copy), it does not degrade with each record being pressed (10,000 per stamper vs 500 to 1,500).
Of course, if artists simply released their work on SACD as the Minnesota Orchestra does, people would hear the music as it was recorded the most accurately.
Check out Jack White and his German-made record pressing machines in Detroit for the way to do it old-school, eh.
“Gone” in the sense of “relegated to a vanishingly small number of enthusiasts”, obviously.
The Hollywood slide started at the same time as the NFL slide, and it will probably slide further down in the next 4 years. Most of the American movies are unwatchable. It is not the current crisis keeping people away.
The problem is that the NFL slide is cooked into the demographic changes in the US. Soccer is the rising star. Whites are dying out and the black population is growing but not as fast as the soccer playing Latino population. If you don’t grow up with the sport you don’t tend to watch it as much. Not even considering the head injury issue.
I agree. 90% of the ‘entertainment (including sports) today is crap for any human being that has real and varied interests. Sorry.
As far as movie theatres go, they are doomed. This is a valid case of real and authentic creative destruction. TV technology (sound included) + internet streaming….it’s a done deal.
Careful, you might get hurt falling off of such a high horse.
It would be interesting to see how the big five or six “studios” (really more film packagers/TV network/film library/amusement park owners) are doing specifically.
The physical film theater complex companies are getting slaughtered for obvious reasons.
But my casual impression is that those five or six oligopoly “studios”…who have more of a chokehold over content…are doing passably un awful.
Obviously, their diversification helps (not the amusement parks though…) but it is interesting that their revenue, profit, and stock prices haven’t taken more of a hit (considering that film exhibition and amusement parks have been holed below the water line for a year).
And, going forward, online film distribution might really hurt the “studios” traditional stranglehold over film “distribution” into theaters (previously greatly aided by their TV network promotion dominance…which is also being eroded by online).
I wonder if some accounting f-pokery isn’t (temporarily) helping the “studios” to keep their financials more intact than the economics really are.
Hard to tell.
Put some beautiful people on the screen and we watch. They don’t even have to be beautiful, Ernest Borgnine got a lot of work.
I think Hollywood is just fine going directly into your home.
Borgnine was superb playing Shack against Lee Marvin’s A-1 in Emperor of the North Pole. Not sure I can imagine anyone in today’s group of actors that could pull off that convincing of a portrayal as these two were capable of. And it really ain’t Hollywood anymore. More like a bad run of Sesame Street outakes.
Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Borgnine, Spencer Tracy, “Bad Day At Black Rock”. Real Acting. Real scenery, no CGI, when men were men. Sturges was ahead of his time.
But possibly not McHale’s Navy.
But now “Hollywood” is open to a *lot* more potential competition.
Previously, the major studios had big walls to competition,
1) 80% of bcast/cable TV networks are owned by the “movie” studios…so they were able to do ntl advertising for their theater films much, much more cheaply (remnant ad space if nothing else) than some poor shlub of an indie film producer would get charged…and…
2) If that weren’t enough, the major studios were generating a large consistent pipeline of heavily promoted films (see 1) so that the Cineplex chains knew they had to have much, much deeper relationships with the majors than some one-off indie producer hawking his poorly promoted film.
In other words, it wasn’t just that the majors could spend $200 mil on a tentpole film (with “$100” mil in affiliate network advertising) it was being able to supply a large continuous pipeline of such films.
Most people don’t realize that *thousands* of indie films (more than a few pretty good, if sans $150 mil in CGI) have been produced each yr…for about 25 yrs (when vid tech made film production *much* cheaper).
The majors only released about 150 films per yr…but those got 90%+ of the box office revenue (due to huge pdtn budgets and control of the advertising and “distribution” chokepoints).
In theory at least, moves to online could even the playing field…since advertising is much, much cheaper ($1 cpms vs $10) and outside the ctrl of the studios…and it is a *lot* cheaper to set up a streaming outlet than a national theater chain.
So, maybe those 4000 or so films that make the indie festival circuit each yr, might be able to take a chunk out of “Hollywood” once people get in the habit of not defaulting to studio controlled product.
Netflix could have led this charge but for more or less survival reasons (vs the studios) it went the route of massively debt financed, in house directed production. The Netflix product is extremely meh, but it has kept their subscription numbers up despite Hollywood pulling a lot of product from Netflix (and onto their own streamers).
So, the indies are still without a large financial champion.
But the tech is moving the industry to lower required financials.
Most people will watch indie films, it’s just that not that many are good enough to justify seeing at a theatre, a more significant amount are good enough to justify watching on a service like Netflix.
Over time, film production should get cheaper and easier and indies should be better able to compete.
There are a few good indie film theaters where I live. Pre-pandemic we went at least a few times a year. A bar, a patio, a tiny (under 100) seat theater. Oh, and great tamales.
Holloween was a silent Dracula film with a small orchestra playing the score.
I buy movies from the theater on line that don’t exist. It’s is just a donation. I bought gift certificates from the used book store to keep them in business while they were closed.
“But the tech is moving the industry to lower required financials.” The cheaper tech is also moving to increase quantity and reduce quality. With a $3000 full-frame DSLR you too can become a “film maker” without having anything to do with the discipline of real film. There’s a qualitative difference between a filmmaker and a videographer.
As a film buff, nobody is going to see some of the indie films. Nobody sees the good indie films as is, even if they are excellent in their cinematography and acting. Once they start getting big enough, they’ll be bought up or the big 6 turns into the big 7. It’s like saying, “well we have so many garbage fast food companies but I love my local restaurant called subway that makes the bread in house! Surely this won’t turn into a multinational chain and drop quality!”
However, instead of subway, it’s super artsy movies with 2 actors in a house and it resembles an a play. They aren’t going to bet out the fun visual effects that people love.
The indie foreign film Parasite was one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. It was made by an indie film maker and made $50 million in the states ($100 million world wide). Meanwhile, avengers end game grossed $2.7 billion. I don’t know if you’re into investing much, but I’m putting my money in the company dropping billion dollar grossing movies even if they are mediocre. Mediocrity is easier to sell because it sells to more people.
cJ entertainment =/= indie
It is more Korean Disney
People are so myopic it baffles me. 1. Never, for one second, think the pricing for most streamers is sustainable at the current. It will go up. if theaters went away, it would go way up. 2. Never, for one second, not think that piracy, already something no one really seems to talk about or quanitfy, wont become huge…like napster music destroying era huge….movies and entertainment cannot rely on live shows and touring to recoup costs/profits. more streaming, more piracy….then everyone and their dog will be doing it and then what? theaters protect the asset. 3. movie going as an “outing” is the cheapest two hours one can spend. period. think of the real estate cost…this article is so stupid. whats the value increase of the real estate these theaters occupy. $9-15 for 2 hours is peanuts. 4. with video cassette, DVD, piracy, cable, now streaming past few years – not to mention the experimenting and implementation of subs like A-list or movie pass…and of course, the # of tickets goes down or whatever but its about the amount you eek from the consumer and with subs the returning consumer spending on other stuff. i have news for you: brick and mortar retail isnt going anywhere, theaters arent…everything is in a transition mode to handle online/in-person. movies will be more expensive and the cost to sit in a reclining leather seat with a captive audience not distracted by phones and sharing the joy of movies ….why on earth would one want to stay home. esp after covid. if anything the appreciation for these things will be even higher. 5. no massive franchises/assets like Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and all other massive franchises or future new ones can be created to the extent theatrical made them….its the top of the ladder …more in line with luxury…and netflix is…Wal-mart. Basically everything will evolve and innovate but communal experiences and all the above reasoning is very important to the entire entertainment industry and society to keep intact bc we dont want to become digital zombies. children and teens on phones are experiencing huge bouts of anxiety and depression. We have to save our safe spaces for teens like malls….of course not all will survive, duh. and it takes $$ during transition. but guess what, AMC was doing what one does …spend money on innovation, better concessions, beautiful auditoriums, sound, seats, subs….and then in middle of this …bam! covid….they and no one, i mean no restaurant, venue or theater needed to plan for this. the govt shut it down and enabled the length of virus. every single badly hit industry should and deserves aid. regardless, theaters will be around forever. maybe not as many, but its too important. no one wants to stay home once people stop dying and will be going out…bars, clubs, concerts, travel, theaters…in droves.
Well I think Wolf’s point with this article is that people are still watching movies, just not in theaters.
Without theaters, traditional studios have less power compared to Netflix and I think that has to be a worrisome trend for them.
Right now, the big film production companies try to put out the image that having their own streaming services like Disney+ will more than make up for a substantial loss of theatre money. That doesn’t seem likely for most of them. There definitely will be winners and losers. Right now, some kids YouTube channels are exceeding Disney cartoons viewership by alot.
Going forward small indie studios might actually rise up and start taking chunks out of the bigger players with kids shows and animation definitely being first. Things like Deepfake software will greatly reduce the price and difficulty of animation production. Deep fake audio allows a computer to very easily mimic or create new voices that sound very authentic, allowing studios anywhere in the world to localize their animations without voice actors. Deep fake software can even help localize scripts and help with the video aspects. Very great cheap, possibility free, deep fake audio is only a couple years away.
The loser big names will definitely be taken down a peg in the near future, but, the winning positions might keep shifting.
Yup, lower costs means production quantity will increase. Reminds me of the boy digging through a pile of manure looking for a pony.
The better indie films do often make it to many theatres. There will likely be more indie films of all quality levels.
You forget that China ( and other foreign countries ) will become the largest market if the US falters.
Films will be developed to cater to this new market.
Films are already being catered to Asian audiences. Movies like Pacific Rim, Skyscraper, and Alita: Battle Angel were released in the USA but either had disappointing returns or flopped here yet were huge hits in China, Japan and South Korea.
Anthony Mackie, the actor who played Falcon in the Avengers movie, did an interview where he complained about Hollywood movies nowadays catering mostly towards the Chinese audience. So basically China is already the most important market for Hollywood content.
Competition in China is rough though because Hollywood movies have to compete against movies from all over the world. Chinese audience will watch “anything as long as it’s good”. A couple of Indian movies for example broke the 100 million dollars figure, whereas such movies (even if they are good) will not do well in the US market.
Interesting thought about Hollywood and Chinese box office returns (which are now massive…on a par with US I believe).
In a lot of ways, film box office returns are an excellent way to smuggle blocked Yuan/USD out of China.
The CCP by and large really limits USD/Yuan financial movements out of China…but box office “proceeds” are made of a vaporous pdt…film audiences.
I don’t know think the CCP is auditing film attendance…so if you want to smuggle Yuan/USD out of China…you just grossly inflate box office receipts…including the 50% allegedly sent back to US studios…which could take a small percentage for facilitating the Yuan smuggling.
The exact same thing happens in overbilling of US imports into China…most of the fictive price is actually Yuans being smuggled out from under CCP control.
But those are physical imports that are easier to audit and value…movie attendance is a lot more vaporous.
Movies have been catered to the Chinese audience for over a decade now. China only allows some obscure number, 34 i think foreign films into China a year. In order to get one of those slots you must have every film you make not offensive to the CCP. Actual Chinese generals have to approve their scrips. Chasing those foreign dollars has clearly backfired, as shown by graphs above. Making their films “pc” also backfired.
You are also assuming that non American theatres revenues won’t also decline.
I like watching a movie in a theater with reclining seats. At the same time though, a cinema is the perfect place to witness the result of declining social grace over the years. Talking loudly, making calls, coughing and spreading germs while sick, etc during a movie are some of the things you need to bear when going to the movies nowadays.
In 2005 in Honolulu I went to see a movie and was surprised by the difference in behavior. Extended families bringing in water-cooler meals as if they were gong to the beach. I got so hungry taking in all aromas of barbequed pork I could hardly watch the film. And there was lots of conversation among the families and talking back to the actors. I thought it was an interesting, eye-opening cultural experience, but I never went back.
Virtually all movies, tv shows++ released or streamed can be downloaded by those ‘savy’ with bit torrent or similar kind of technology. VPN services make them harder to detect.
This is going on over a decade or two. Whether this is morally wrong or right is a different question. This is also true to other contents published through digital media.
The streaming model drastically changes what movies it is profitable to make. The highest performing movie on Hulu this fall in terms of views and new subscribers vs cost was made for $2 million by three guys doing post production in an apartment in Williamsburg NY.
See my post above.
Btw, was your Hulu example an actual film (name)…I would like to look it up if so.
It is a feature length documentary about the rise and fall of the Brooklyn rapper and internet sensation “tekashi 69”. Most people on this blog would not like it, I am only aware because I know the editor.
That’s interesting, because the indie complaints I have seen about Netflix (and Hulu by implication) is that the vast ocean of indies get next to no promotion by the streamer and/or get near flat rate pmts for their films
…even to the point of not getting much more than they got from theatrical distribution (maybe $25k for 80% of true low profile indies…I don’t know if that is for annually recurring rights).
The real problem for the ocean of indies…is that they *are* an ocean (sort of like internet websites…writ small)…there are simply so many of them with tiny promotion budgets that they get lost in the universe of product.
Even if just 3k small indies got made a yr since 1995 (easily possible judging from festival submissions), that would mean an inventory of 75k small features floating around out there (again, a la internet sites).
It would be nice to think that the explosion in streamers and broadcast TV subchannels could marry up with that universe of almost unseen films (in comparison to Guardians of the Avenging Panther or Super Batman Aqua Suicide Force.)
This doc “69” was something of an outlier as Hulu saw its potential due to huge fan base and outrageous content so they did a big promotion on launch day with billboards in LA and NY and first slot promotion on the site. I think they saw it as the next “ Tiger King”.
The editor is the new champion. Main qualification: being able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Agitprop got expensive.
Not just movies. Concerts and sports too. New stadiums are so big you can’t see anything unless you pay a week’s salary. I haven’t been able to justify if for years.
Everything coming to your home is better. You can hit pause, re-run something you missed. Not to mention having your own food, drinks and “crowd” control.
Plus look at the $#!t producers like Mnuchin have put out before he so mightily sacrificed to be part of 45’s’ cabinet…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Mnuchin#Filmography
Everything’s a reboot of a reboot. I prefer black and white movies in French with people smoking cigarettes and subtitles
Big lawsuit by Canada’s Cineplex that had agreed to be bought by UK Cineworld. Now of course the UK outfit doesn’t want to proceed. I think it is trying to say Cineplex had undisclosed issues because I guess the advent of C 19 is not an out. Not being a lawyer I still wonder if force majeure could be invoked for contracts impacted by C 19.
As customers declined they raised prices for tickets and concessions. This is the same foolish response we’ve seen from golf courses, bowling alleys and many other recreations available to the public. I have opted out of some activities simply because they are overpriced.
These “industries” will no doubt be decimated because the price of the real estate and property taxes makes it impossible to offer their facilities at an attractive price. Victims of stagflation and Fed puts.
Movie Theater will survive. For same reason all the sport arenas are full, even if you can watch the game on your big sreen TV live. Same reason people watch sports in sport bars. We feel like a family, when we are together. It’s a psychology really. When we laugh together or cheer together, that gives us sense of unity.
Personally – I am sick of NETFLIX. So sick – I wanna quit, but there is nothing else there at tge moment.
“Sick of Netflix”
They’ve borrowed billions and billions to finance in house, non major studio product…but sooo much of their content is meh at best.
It is a very common complaint about Netflix series that 6 hours of worthwhile materials gets “crammed” into twelve hours of airtime…
In other words, 50% of the time, little to nothing of interest is happening.
But at, what, $9 per month, people are okay with a Doritos bag that is 50% injected air…
Hollywood content? Mostly trash. Korean content, surprisingly very good. No wonder Netflix is upping their investment in Korea.
Till early last year, I rarely if ever watched a Korean series till the end, but by the end of the year, I completed several and I can wholeheartedly recommend them.
It’s over, the South Koreans are kicking our ass when it comes to movies and music (just look at the popularity of BTS).
Don’t worry though. I am sure at the end, we’ll still lead the world in terms of high speed pizza delivery.
“still lead the world in terms of high speed pizza delivery.”
I wonder how many people can name the book this came from (no Googling cheaters!!!)
The book came out quite a while ago.
I watch a lot of the foreign content on Netflix. Asian content is too juvenile for me, this includes China, Korea, and Japan. India is better and the Middle East is at least a novelty. The best I’ve seen comes out of the Scandinavian countries, politically and culturally interesting. Everything out of the rest of Europe is like another episode of Narcos.
“high speed pizza delivery” as last redoubt of American economy…”Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson in 1992.
Now *that* is a SciFi deep cut…and that page is probably the best in the book.
Netflix Asian content* is targeted at teenagers which does suck if you are not> But Koreans do make good tv though it helps that they target series of around 20 episodes in total. Not the eternals Hollywood target.It is just easier to write a good story for 20 episodes with an end that having to fill in story every week without end
*) At least from what i have seen here
@ Petunia (because you said you only watch foreign shows) If you have or willing to get Amazon Prime special channel MHz choice. Check out The French Village, if you haven’t already. Also Spiral. But as soon as I’m done with those two, I’m dropping the whole online watching thingy. Returning to my carefully curated bookshelf that I’ve assembled over decades of being a used book store gnome.
As for those who can’t stand subtitles, good luck to ya!
Anecdotal to be sure, but will testify one of the really great benefits of reaching the middle of the 8th decade is being able to watch many of the great movies seen when they came out years ago and not remember one thing, so they are totally fresh, eh?
Just saw “Never on Sunday” again, first time since soon after it came out…
Wonderful adult film!
@Cas, I would have guessed a book by Chuck Palahniuk, but I was wrong. Reading Adjustment Day…(just finishers Testerosterone Pit and in the middle of Big Like, too…)
@VVN – thanks for the head’s up on that.
I’m right behind you but still remember some of the content of the old flicks. LOL!
Wife & I went out to see the Harry Potter pre-quel movies. It was great! Tickets were cheap, and in an entire theatre there were never more than 12 of us. Heck in the entire cineplex I’d bite there were never more than 40pp.
Movies were YUGE to me as a kid. As an ‘adult’ I still liked going to see selected films. “Ford v Ferrari” will never be as good at home as it was on the big screen.
But it’s a different world now. I’m many ways significantly improved, in others not so much.
I know one thing and that’s I’d never trade my childhood for that if my kids.
The last movie I went to was “1917”. Was probably the best movie I’ve ever seen. Wonderful story. Its the 100th anniversary + 2 of the end of WWI and the British Director did a bang up job. Most of the movies today are like cartoons and directed towards teenage audiances. Not even worth the time or the price of admission.
1. King Tommen dies again! This time to save his brother Rob Stark!
2. If you’re into WWI movies, one of the best that I’ve seen was “A Very Long Engagement”, a 2004 French movie, much more comprehensive treatment of the horrors of the battlefield, the effects on the home front, and the devastating lasting scars caused by the war.
3. Another, older classic, in black and white, is the 1957 “Paths of Glory”, with Kirk Douglas.
4. Both deal with the very different French Army experience where large numbers of French soldiers mutinied against the senseless slaughter of WWI (and were brutally executed for it)
5. “1917” is more of the typical stiff upper lip British war movie treatment. It was an engrossing movie, but not as deep as these other two movies I mentioned.
Saw “Paths of Glory” directed by Stanley Kubrick I believe. Good movie. I’ll check out the other one. Thanks
I’m a WWI buff in case you didn’t notice.
I’m more of a history buff in general, and the part I love is to really dig into the details of what really happened, how and why it happened, and what the consequences were. There’s a lot of bad or lazy history out there, some of it written by professional historians.
A great, and classic (1961) WWI book to read – “The Price of Glory” by Alistair Horne. This is the reference that mentions that the bit about the French Army executing mutineers by blasting them to bits with their own artillery.
“Price of Glory” read 2 times when I was a kid and again recently. This was about the battle of Verdun.
“A Mad Catastrophe” is a good read about the Austria Hungarian effort at the beginning of WWI. Makes good reading because there are a lot of parallels between the end of that empire and the USA today. Not much is written or tought about Austria/Hungary and their roll in dragging Europe into WWI.
Also try “Sleepwalkers” if you want to see how WWI got started. Better written than “The Guns of August”
Alistair Horn also wrote an excellent book on the Algerian conflict in 1954-1962 “A Savage War of Peace” The NEOCON clowns that infest our government should all be required to read this book. They may think twice about these useless wars in Afghanistan and IRAQ.
Anther recent WWI movie that I saw was “They shall not grow old” by director Peter Jackson. Great photography, restored from original footage. Narrated by Vets from WWI.
I started watching that, but it was a bit too slow for me, and I wasn’t learning much of anything new, so I quit.
The French Army mutinies of 1917 were huge, occuring after yet another series of failed mass assaults in April on German lines, ordered by General Nivelle, which resulted in few gains and horrendous casualties.
Entire divisions mutinied, refusing orders to fight.
Accurate figures are difficult to pin down, estimates are that as many as 100,000 men were involved in the mutinies, and the mutinies occurred in half or more of the French Army divisions
Nobody seems to have kept an accurate count of the total numbers of desertions versus refusals to continue fighting, or of the official punishments. In many cases, officers were able to talk the men down and cajole them back to the lines after promising not to continue the suicidal charges.
Most sources say that over 500 (one source says 629) were sentenced to death.
The numbers actually executed vary, I’ve seen numbers from 29 to 49.
However, I’ve read accounts of various other responses to the mutinies, from decimation executions when an entire division mutinied (one out of ten soldiers selected to be executed, or some other versions of such random selection process), to executing the mutineers in situ by raining French artillery down on them. These executions were most likely not recorded officially.
Anyway, one of the themes of “A Very Long Engagement” is that the hunt for deserters and mutineers was extensive, leading to consequences for the main protagonist in the movie and his fiancee.
In February 2020, I went with some neighbors to see the movie “The Invisible Man.” They were going and I tagged along. The first time in years that I went to a movie theater. Forget the good reviews, this movie was cheaply made crap. There was stock footage of San Francisco but this basically demented movie was filmed in Australia. For $7 million, according to IMDb. Another example of “woke” cinema. The villain was a tech billionaire who couldn’t let go of his girlfriend. She never heard of getting an order of protection. In the theater lobby, there was a coming attraction poster for the James Bond movie “No Time To Die.” I asked the worker there and he said it was due in the theater soon. Not anymore, the small multiplex is shut down, its nice stadium theater seats taken out two weeks ago. Sic transit gloria mundi.
Speaking of posters, the one for American Grafitti with all the little drawings pictured a theater showing not Dementia 13 as in the footage, but rather The Blob with new Steve McQueen. If you remember how that went, a gelatinous slime overuns the Colonial movie house before finishing in the restaurant-a diner. Seems now like a commentary piece. Another McQueen film had a future attractions poster in nothing but glorius flat white with black letters that read “Coming Soon” over the one word name. No need to show all the good scenes to bring in the viewers. Wolf might have liked it due to the Bay Area locations. This little gem was named “Bullitt”. It they ever put that again in a theater nearby, I might just go back.
Can purchase second hand one of those nifty recliner seats with cupholder, the kind that my local indie theatre put in about two years ago? Set it up in my living room, I would. It’s not as if I’m hosting parties anymore.
I gave this some thought back in November. The theaters were a lost cause then; I believe that most of them will never come back; the longer they are offline the more people get out of the habit of going.
Movies are a bit more interesting. Somewhere I saw a rule of thumb that a movie needed to gross 2X its costs in order to be considered profitable. Trying to get a 2X return on a subscription model is going to be very difficult indeed, and I would suspect fewer and fewer investors will be willing to gamble that kind of capital for an uncertain return.
Netflix and Amazon have a different methodology on selecting movies for streaming than theaters, that is for sure.
The subscription model (and being able to watch new movies sans pants) does change things around quite a bit.
Netflix really does trade on a sort of “Dollar Shave Club” model (keep your recurring charges low enough and people will forget to cancel even if the bulk of your product is pretty meh).
I’m glad Netflix is around to provide semi serious competition to the Hollywood Five (or so) but it sorta morphed into its own gigantic, generic giant (not a huge fan of 85% of Netflix pdt).
In the long run, I think the video streaming technology is what is really going to make the difference…it has lowered the cost of distribution so much (except, damn you last mile cable internet providers!) that there are ultimately going to be a *ton* of streaming companies (there are already a lot).
But then the question becomes (as with the internet), with such a large supply of providers, how many will be able to break through the noise and attain the minimum number of subscribers necessary for economic survival.
I don’t think the $200 mil production budget (and $100 mil ad budget) model of the Hollywood Five is necessary for streamers (although Netflix has kinda gone down this dangerous road).
$150 mil in CGI is at least somewhat wasted on the home screen (TBH, mega explosion porn appeals mainly to the teen male core audience of the Hollywood Five…who are less central for at home streamers).
I think the bigger danger is that the even passable quality pool of film production personnel (both behind and in front of the camera) gets too diluted by so many productions (500 TV series now, vs. maybe 150 in 2006).
As a result, you get a lot of films/tv episodes filled with so much community theater level acting, cardboard sets, narrative meandering, and directorial navel gazing that people start questioning even that low $9 monthly fee (“Gee, I could get 2 Starbucks for that…”).
Agree cas, especially w the majority of new stuff garbage and getting worse IMHO every year.
And now it’s spreading into the sports, with not one single serious ”play by play” announcer in the wild card foo ball round that I was able to stay awake for,,, boring commentary about what happened last week when an amazing play, one handed catch, unbelievable running through tackles, etc…
fun to watch for sure for someone whose first team sport was tackle football with no hard shoes, no hard belt buckles, and, especially, no adults allowed..
As for the movies, besides the growing totally free/donation sites, the amazing world services, or whatever the abbrev. stands for, is doing fairly well with movies and music and deliveries to/in all US states, so will stay with it for now for the convenience and aggregate pricing of all of the above, SO FAR!
IMO they are becoming too big too fast, and in spite of their putting all the risk possible on their ”partners”, instead of the old fashioned retailing model of sears, k smart, etc., me thinks it will hit it’s peak and begin the decline much quicker than the old cos did.
Especially with many shoppers now comparing prices instead of just ordering asap for the convenience; turns out that WFA has helped a lot of folks be a bit or a ton more discerning shopping on line.
NBC’s Peacock channel has Nordic and Alpine skiing coverage that is a live feed from the host nation’s TV coverage and has no commentators.
Watching Afton, Minnesota’s Jessie Diggins win the Tour de Ski with only the sound of the athletes and coaches yelling as the skiers pass by was fantastic!
what’s the adage…”not making things like they used to”?
I was lucky that my city had a great film society that would show repertory screenings of classic cinema. I was able to see things like Kurosawa and Tarkovsky movies, film noir, all on the big screen – amazing stuff. And for a time it was a refuge from the kind of behavior you’d find at the mall cinema. For a time. More recently we had our share of talkers, people flashing their phones, behavior was getting worse, even someplace where presumably the people attending took movies more seriously than the casual moviegoer.
Seeing movies is a social experience, and seeing a good 35mm print with a good audience is a lot of fun. Too many people have watched mst3k though and think they are comedians now even when watching a classic movie. People would watch a film noir and then laugh at the fact that phones had cords back then and everyone wore hats. Made it hard to continue enjoying the screenings.
I don’t know if they’ll be able to come back after covid-19 is over with. If not, I’ll miss it, but vaudeville went away too and you can’t just go out and see a line of chorus girls anymore, either.
Sutter Cane – I cannot see myself attending a movie in a theater ever again. The cost is not worth it anymore, and the quality of the product is not what it used to be either.
We have old cinema that is run by non profit. It has one FT employee, showed movies of all types(old and new, indie and hollywood), and have live shows. They have concessions including local craft beer to go with the popcorn. Volunteers do everything from concessions to ticket taking.
I encourage any of you who like cinema to think about this model for your town. Ours is an institution enjoyed by many.
In mucho agreement. PDX has a 70mm projection theater (Hollywood /volunteer staffed). Home video always improving, but will never touch the 70mm version.
US 70mm-capable Theatre Listing -redballoondotnet/current70mmus.html
Really COOL d, thanks for sharing that.
This model is very likely to become one of the types of theatres to not only exist, but expand after the current virus situation is resolved or at least ameliorated to the satisfaction of movie buffs.
And with the potential to focus this model on the 70mm as described by s, it may, in fact, provide THE model going forward, at least in community.
One of my fave memories of my youth was our family driving an hour or so to see, “Around the World in 80 Days” the first we had seen in that 70mm mode IIRC.
WOW! does not do it justice.
Let’s look at where entertainment spending is going.
For 2019, pre Covid, more money was spent on video games than 3X the box office.
I believe that’s where things are headed, for many different reasons.
These days with lockdowns, and now 8 PM curfews, you’re very likely to be labeled a “domestic terrorist” if you dare to leave your house to go see a movie at a theater!
I forgot to list “Fed Becomes No. 3 Holder of World’s Biggest Corporate-Bond ETF” in Bloomberg.com
Mall theaters -go riddance to bad rubbish.
Movies are great places to send teens. They get out of the house on their own and they are out of the house for a while.
It is also a right of passage to be old enough to go with friends and not your older sister. lol
We only go to the movies if there is a 3D movie we want to see. Otherwise, we go to the indie theater for some good movies, a glass of wine, and great tamales.
Homes are like self imposed prisons.
Work, play, socialising.
Biggest issue I see is meeting a partner and having a family.
It all starts with out of home socialising/working.
90’s had the last innovation wave. Much like capitalism, what’s next??? If there is no next, how will you attract business?? Capitalism has this problem as well.
When I was a student back in the 1980’s, the thing I enjoyed more than going to the cinema was renting a “moviebox” with some of my friends.
A “moviebox” was a rented VCR plus 3 movies of your choice that you got from the likes of Blockbuster. It was incredibly cheap. As poor students we didn’t own a VCR, so this was great! All of us would bring booze, crisps, sausages etc and we would binge-watch these moves in our small studentroom. This was so cheap and much more fun than going to an expensive cinema.
Also now I won’t visit cinemas any time soon, because I’m getting crushed by NIRP, so naturally I’m using cheaper alternatives.
Before video-nation, college campuses might have student priced showings in a hall or theater. If you were lucky, there might also be a college bar on campus or closeby that was still open after your viewing experience. If you got real lucky, they might bring back something like Woodstock, or a new one like Animal House, and everyone would come in their finest retro-60’s costume. A theme party might then ensue beginning at the dorms, moving on to the film, and followed up at the bar. That smell in the air probably wasn’t popcorn. You might say merchandising was alternative.
Arrived in SF in ’84and just for the hell of it went to see midnight showing of Hair at the Castro theatre, complete with live organ player in the pit to cue the sing along. Full house of enthusiastic singing fans of all description, gay/straight, whatever, it didn’t matter. That was the sort of eye opening experience that might not be happening again for a long while. But who knows?
In the era of $50k per yr college tuitions (housing not included), there is no such thing as “student discounts”.
In fact, you might not want to walk alone at night on campus for fear of getting blackjacked and rolled by the “Dean of Last Dollar Extraction”.
But those six figure, six classroom hour/wk professorships don’t pay for themselves.
At University of Illinois when they showed 2001 A Space Odyssey the computer science people in the audience all stood up and clapped when HAL introduced “himself.” Of course I was in an an all-male dorm that semester, later to as co-ed dorm, alternating floors. where visiting professors bopped the co-eds…
Man, those were the days when you could catch all the classics in a crowded lecture hall for like a buck: “Behind the Green Door” and “The Devil in Miss Jones.” But we were accompanied by women as well.
Boy, I went to college too early in life. None of the above was going on in the late 1960’s. We just got drunk. I have no idea what the females did in their dorms…..
The megaplexes will be converted to lecture halls where millions of people will flock to listen to live writers, scholars and travelers. They will learn new things from real people. There will be no food or noisy wrappers. The only beverages will be the occasional hip flask. Everyone will turn their cellphone off upon entering, not just set it to vibrate. Live performers will play music – only a few feet away. Chamber music will be rediscovered. People will begin to think logically again. Or maybe not.
Ah, the optimist.
I’ll take the other side of that bet.
All winnings donated to non-profit(s).
Dreeeeam dream dream dream .Whenever I watch you all i do is dream.
Your wonderful idea reminds me of a great period not so long
ago when this was possible.
Chuatauqua looked it up
Wonderful vision, but not practical in today’s dystopian world.
I see a darker scenario where many such venues would be repurposed for re-education of the great unwashed masses (such presentations would have great production values) to foster belief in coming Great Reset and a glorious Orwellian future for us all.
Sorry to be a Debbie Downer in contrast to your high brow dreams.
Yes, more probable is conversion to facilities for the application of the “Ludovico Technique” as was applied to the droog Alex.
More or less what television *is* – no eye clamps required.
My local theater just got knocked down and a Costco is going up. I’d rather have the Costco.
Some movies just are so much better in a theatre, not at $15 a seat mind you. But a reasonable price would be so much easier on families. The movie that comes to mind for me is Ford V Ferrari, now that I am watching it at home I find my sound system is just nothing compared to being at the theatre.
That’s one thing that stood out to me when watching F v F on Blue-ray DVD, and I see why it won Oscars for Film Editing and Sound Editing.
The sound is so amazing as the V-12 Ferraris come screaming by.
My home system is two-channel stereo, but up to the task.
For the theatre surround sound:
Dolby Labs now has a ‘Dolby Atmos’ surround system that, “Creates an incredibly immersive surround field that locates objects with 3D sonic precision.”
-Don Lindich of Sound Advice recently. soundadvicenews dot com
So far twice friends and myself went to the local theater during COVID. We keep the group to around 10, and buy it out. Being geeks we have worked with them and plug a laptop into the projection rig. Watched Gremlins in the movie theater (from Amazon) before Christmas. Also play JackBox Games and some other things like that. It’s been pretty cool. We hope to continue doing it, but there is no way the theater is doing well.
I have been looking for movie theater auctions on the East Coast now, mostly for a 35mm rig to play with at home. The movies are hard to get and very expensive.
“plug a laptop into the projection rig.”
Do DVDs or Blue Ray discs have enough resolution for decent theater projection?
Btw, I’ve seen the ads for being able to buy out an entire theater for $100. Makes you wonder what the pre C19 breakeven ticket sales used to be…I always wondered how profitable those weekday 11 AM and 11 PM showings were.
Cas – Consumer/TV 4K Ultra Blu-ray is 3840 × 2160. Motion picture projection uses 4096 × 2160 (DCI 4K). The vertical line counts are the same, but the frame formats are different. You would need a frame-to-frame converter. Highly specialized and not cheap.
Apparently there are now a number of DCI 4k compliant home projectors that will accept Blu-ray and Ultra Blu-ray input. Those inputs might not be available with older commercial projectors in movie houses.
Unless Ethan was using specialized discs/equipment then, I’m guessing that the Gremlins image quality for the rented theater wasn’t great.
Even post C19…film exhibition is going to be in a very bad way…there will be residual fear and kid friendly films (= minimum 2 tickets), a financial backbone, are going to suffer worse I think…no parent wants to get their kid sick or get sick themselves for the sake of “Trolls 2 – Electric Bugaloo” (does that title put me on the MSM’s national no fly list?).
This theater has 2K projectors on most of the cinemas (Barco, 9000 lumens, 2K res.) The res is slightly higher than consumer equipment (2048 pixels wide vs 1920 pixels wide as I recall.) The Xenon lamp in it and high grade optics give it a really nice picture and 35mm like colors. The projector has the ability to change the lenses or something as well for cinemascope vs flat, aka 2.35:1 vs 16:9. So when we watched the movie from Amazon it was 16:9 and not letterboxed, so we could not use the 2.35:1 feature (which would result in a loss of resolution but fill the theater screen all the way.) They had a bluray player, and a bluray disc would have looked better but the group wasn’t demanding at all. There was talk of playing it on betamax VCR into a scaler into the projector which would have been way worse quality but funny.
I think their main theater is 4K projector but not the one we used. But I will say the high grade of the projector seems to result in a really nice picture above what you get from a consumer/prosumer projector. It has a “movie” look to it.
This is a smaller arthouse theater. AMC I think it was wanted $1500 on top since it would require an engineer to hook it up (into the HDMI/DVI port) and hit the input button on the touchscreen on the projector. A friend down in Norfolk area did this for his kids birthday party, they plugged in a Nintendo Switch. Hopefully the money helps the theaters.
Demographics hurting movie theaters. First, the number of teenage boys has dropped (teenage boys being the prime movie consumer). Second, the increased rudeness in American public life. Hard to enjoy a movie when there’s fights, talking, yelling, and sometimes gun fire.
Pent up demand find:
Demand Composition and the Strength of Recoveries
November 23, 2020
suggest that, in present-value output terms, a recession as biased towards services as that
induced by the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. will be be around 60 to 80 per cent costlier
than a similarly deep, ordinary durables-led US recession. Consistent with those estimates,
we find that the output losses associated with a stabilization policy that ignores sectoral
incidence can be large. To stabilize aggregate output in the face of missing pent-up demand,
monetary policy in a services recession must be easier for longer than in ordinary durables-led
Movie theaters, the end of era.
They were born primarily as a time sharing solution for a expensive cinema equipment.
Today the high definition video and high fidelity sound cost virtually nothing; the steaming brings unlimited choice of entertainment.
It is time to put it on museum shelves.
Sounds harsh, but blame the disruptive God of Automation.
Something to add: the movie going has first started as visiting of palaces of visual entertainment, a safe and relatively cheap machine to visit different places and times, to live the life of someone else and escape the hardships of XXth century.
Later it become a ceremony, a cult, a family tradition, a part of courtship.
Today we go to cinema because our parents did it and we did it when we were young.
I miss the drive-in movies of my youth in the early 1960’s. The movies stunk, the video quality was suspect, the speaker you hung in your car window was scratchy, but my girlfriend and I had a great time!
Boy, those were the days!
I will never forget my Saturday afternoon ritual in Reno when I was a second grader. Early afternoon kids from all over Reno would begin riding towards the theater at the bottom of Virginia for the afternoon matinee. A sea of bikes outside, a roaring ocean of screaming kids inside. Buck Rodgers & other weekly series, followed by a kid friendly movie. Never forget seeing the toilets salute in, “No Time for Seargents,” and the modern world emerge with, “Robinson Crusoe on Mars!” That got this kid ready for both the moonshot & Star Trek!
Those were the days…houses were left unlocked, car keys stayed in the car, and we kids rode all over Reno and the surrounding hills without the wide range of stranger dangers we’ve surrounded ourselves with today…
Drive-ins! Two feature films, not one. And cartoons first! I think our much vaunted “progress” has been for the corporations, not the people.
Don’t forget movie theater was often the only AC available in town.
High-res 3-D goggles and headphones. No loss of wall space. All you need is a recliner. The Matrix nears …
Hey wolf u get caught in snow storm what a site though nothing compared to yours
Coming Soon. The most startling science fiction concept! Stranger than anything man has ever known!! From deep in outer space, more than seven million years to Earth!!! “The Day the Printer Stood Still” …..in glorious Horror-Scope.