The Chilling Thing Disney’s “Black Widow” Said about the Future of Movie Theater Chains

Opening weekend ticket sales in 98th place, but streaming revenues hit it out of the ballpark.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Some of the headlines about “Black Widow,” the Marvel movie that opened over the weekend, were quite a show. If “record” was mentioned without “pandemic” as qualifier, they lied. What the box office data did show is how difficult it now is for brick-and-mortar theaters to bring in the money, and just how much of a killing Disney, which owns Marvel, made by streaming the movie simultaneously over the weekend on Disney+.

During its opening weekend, Black Widow brought in $80 million at box office ticket sales in North America. This was only a “record” for any movie since March 2020, a “pandemic record,” so to speak.

But these ticket sales lagged far behind the actual records set during opening weekends by other movies. According to movie data tracker, The Numbers, those ticket sales were in 98th place!

And they were 78% lower than the record debut weekend for a movie, “Avengers: Endgame,” which premiered in April 2019 and grossed $357 million at theaters in North America during the first weekend.

The brutal reality for brick-and-mortar theaters now:

  • “Avengers: Endgame” played in 4,662 theaters the weekend it premiered; on average each theater grossed $76,601.
  • “Black Widow” played in 4,160 theaters over the weekend; on average each theater grossed $19,231. That’s what this “record” means for movie theater chains.

This 98th place does not include the impact of rising ticket prices. A lot of the movies that beat “Black Widow” debuted many years ago, when ticket prices were a lot lower, and it took a lot more tickets to get there, including “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which opened in November 2001 and grossed $90 million. At the time, the average ticket price was $5.66, compared to $9.16 in 2019.

Walt Disney disclosed the other fascinating thing about the plight of brick-and-mortar movie theaters: It had raked in $60 million from streaming “Black Widow” over the weekend on Disney+, for $29.99 per home, on top of the monthly subscription fee, no theaters involved.

Disney gets a cut of maybe less than 50% of the $80 million in box office ticket sales. But it gets 100% of the $60 million it took in via Disney+.

This was the first time that Disney disclosed this type of streaming data since it launched Disney+ in November 2019 – and it shows the very chilling prospects for brick-and-mortar theaters.

What changed during the pandemic was Disney’s decision to release movies simultaneously in movie theaters and on Disney+.

So now, some people can go to a theater to watch a movie when it premiers and make an event out of it; others can watch the movie at home when it premiers, the whole family for $29.99, which cheap soda and popcorn thrown in on top.

If studios had tried before the Pandemic to release a movie simultaneously in theaters and on their streaming channel, thereby breaking the theatrical window, it would have caused theater chains to boycott the release, which would have been the end of that story.

But the power relationship between studios and theater chains has changed forever. And studios have their own streaming services. If theater chains try to boycott a movie, so be it; they will just push more people to the streaming service.

This has effectively broken the three-month monopoly that the “theatrical window” – the time between a movie’s release in theaters and its release on other channels – gave to theaters. During those three months, consumers didn’t have a choice (other than a bootleg copy): If they wanted to watch the movie, they had to go to the theater. That three-month monopoly was never designed to benefit consumers, but to benefit movie theaters.

Now movie theaters have to compete with streaming from day one, and consumers have a choice. And consumers are deciding: Some still go to the movies and make an event out of it, but lots of others watch it at home. And this changes the equation of just how many brick-and-mortar movie theaters are needed, and what they can do to survive with the theatrical window broken, the monopoly gone, and choices for consumers wide open.

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  180 comments for “The Chilling Thing Disney’s “Black Widow” Said about the Future of Movie Theater Chains

  1. sunny129 says:

    ‘for $29.99 per home’
    !?
    None of my kids’ friends at their home spent zilch b/c of their techy know how. This has been going for over a decade. They all use VPNs.

    • candyman says:

      yeah, and did they see THIS DISNEY MOVIE without paying? If they did, this presents a moral dilemma in our society today. What is the lesson we teach when we say it’s ok to steal? It matters not how much money Disney has, or how big the corporation is, or if they are a 1% er. Wrong is wrong, and this has major implications which we now see in wall Street and else where. These are institutions run by PEOPLE, and now you know how it begins. How does it end? Many of you have been predicting it!

      • BrianC - PDX says:

        I get where you are coming from and I agree.

        The problem is that the top has been rotting for decades, and everybody with two eyes has been paying close attention. Monkey see, monkey do. Now our elites are whining because the bottom tiers are starting to wise up and play the same games.

        We are well on our way to becoming a low trust society with all that entails with regard to systemic corruption and societal break down.

        • AlexW says:

          Low trust society? How about a, “Nation of Cheaters,” as a more accurate description. Let’s review the, “standards,” for, “citizenship,” over the last 57 years, since immigration was again thrown open in 1964.
          The current standard for, “American Citizenship,” is for the, commonly called, “migrant,” (previously known as, “illegals.” I prefer my term, “Crimigrant,”) to put their own self-interest above the most fundamental laws of our country concerning borders, employment, and everything else concerning any basic knowledge of, respect to, or obedience of and to the Constitutional propositions that (once) governed relations between citizens, and between citizens and the government, that our country is supposed to be regulated within. The values demanded by our Constitution pale in importance next to America’s true rock of Soveregnity; Greed, and its handmaidens, corruption and lawlessness.

          I would say this same, “greedy self-interest standard,” for, “citizenship,” applies to, “legal,” crimigrants as well, being the formal world-wide recognition that one’s own personal self-interest, served by any and every form of human corruption, is the basis of American Soveregnity for both the formal and, “informal”, crimigrants, and especially for the political parties currently, “setting the rules,” of our badly-battered constitutional republic.
          These standards of, “oppertunity,” as opposed to, “values,” were imposed/established by the Robber Barrons, & their legions of, “Yellow” journalists during their establishment of their, “Corporate Aristocracy,” on the previously largest flood of mass migrantion in our history during the 1880s, (until now…) and revived in 1964.
          Thus we have three generations of folks since then, composing at least a hundred million people, who’s basis of, “Citizenship,” is cheating.
          Adding to this the numbers of our Corporate Elite cheaters, and then adding the corrupted cheaters infesting both political parties, I’d say we’ve crossed the Rubicon into the reality that we are already A Nation of Cheaters, by the numbers as well as by the, “spirit,” or the, content of the, “character,” we openly express…
          I’d poist we long ago crossed that line in the early ’80s, during the height of the Regan Robbery (the asset-stripping) of America, when the profits of using, “their,” (our corporate-political aristocracy) favorite tools, of “offshoring,” our middle-class industry to China, further crushing the middle-class under mass immigration were quickly piling up in the top echelons of our Corporate Aristocracy. That’s when all the hedge funds, composed of the stolen wealth of the dying middle-class, started popping up like mushrooms.
          At this point the true nature of our Corporate State as emerged as outright Corporate Fascism, which is rapidly absorbing Marxist-like (Orwellian…) powers, with, “American,” Characteristics.
          In other words, “We will Cheat, and You will Love and Praise Us, or else…”

        • Pazuzu says:

          As the world crashes into despair due to the peaking of resources (particularly oil), and civilization concludes, expect more cheating as people desperately try to stay afloat.

          But the squeeze will continue until they cannot feed their families.

          And then all hell will break lose.

      • RightNYer says:

        I agree with you in principle, but in that perfect world, corporations don’t intentionally lobby to have the decks stacked in their favor.

        It’s hard to have much sympathy under those conditions.

        • David G LA says:

          “Corporations don’t intentionally lobby to have the decks stacked in their favor.”

          – what do lobbyists do then? Unintentionally lobby? Hilarious.

        • David G LA says:

          Sorry I misread. “In that perfect world…”. Yes – exactly. Got it.

      • Spiff says:

        In the dilemma department, I reckon there is room in the libertarian capitalist mindset for the notion that intellectual property is not legitimately property at all.

        • intosh says:

          IP may not be a legitimate property but it’s a great instrument as a moral card to play by amoral entities — the corporations — to the little guys.

        • RightNYer says:

          I think IP should be property. I don’t think it should be property for 130 years because Disney lobbies Congress.

      • blackshadow says:

        Pirating a movie isn’t “stealing”. Get over it, gramps.

        • blackshadow says:

          If it was, you would get criminally charged for pirating media. At worst you get a fine or sued, which never happens anymore. It’s 2021, not 1950 dude.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          blackshadow,

          Just because you got lucky doesn’t mean it’s legal (“ignorance of the law is no excuse”):

          Quoted from felonies.org:

          Private and public entities, alike, enforce illegal downloading laws. The former includes law firms in the entertainment/publishing industry and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

          Additionally, federal and state governments follow their own mechanisms to punish those who download songs illegally or stream pirated movies. See the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

          In most cases, when a private group initiates civil charges against an offender, they offer them the opportunity to pay a settlement and conclude the case outside of court.

          However, if the judges get involved, they may charge defendants with a felony or other criminal offenses. Moreover, courts will assess the punishments and fines for illegal downloading acts. They break them down as follows:

          Jail or Prison: In most cases, only users who attempt to sell or distribute pirated content (such as through torrents) will face incarceration. Illegal downloading laws, when it comes to felony charges, carry a prison sentence of up to five years.

          Criminal Penalties, Fines, and Statutory Damages: Federal courts may fine you between $200 and $150,000 for each record. For example, a court recently made a college student pay $22,500 on each pirated file. In total, the 25-year-old incurred $675,000 in penalties after they installed 30 copyrighted songs. Above all else, fines for illegal downloading felony cases have a harsher maximum fine that could reach $250,000.

          https://felonies.org/is-piracy-a-felony-punishments-and-fines-for-illegal-downloading/

        • Chase Metz says:

          Yes it is STEALING!!!!!

      • polecat says:

        It ends when people finally grok that dealing with reality and the natural world of which they are apart – with many of it’s human-induced problems to be solved – is what’s needed .. rather than to delve into no-stop fantasy, and the attendent artificial constructs put forth, only to eventually destroy that very same world .. though inattention, and shear intellectual laziness ..

        “WALLIE!!”

      • intosh says:

        Are global corporations like Disney, which are by definition amoral entities, bound to similar “moral dilemma” when they decide to cut local jobs to subcontract abroad, or when they allocate their profit to a branch in a tax haven?

        These entities’ only intrinsic guiding principle is maximizing profit and shareholder value, not any moral code.

        “What is the lesson we teach when we say it’s ok to steal?”

        That lesson has been taught many times before, and in immeasurably more powerful ways.

        • ElbowWilham says:

          Or how about thanking forced labor camps in China in their credits? That seems a little immoral to me.

      • NotDeadYet says:

        I do not agree with theft, but when a kid sees a normal guy like their own dad who becomes a CEO and is taking down 23 million a year salary PLUS bonuses… and then this CEO wants those kids to pay 29 dollars for something they can get for free… be real. If the CEO was that good, he would figure a way to keep those young foxes out of the chicken coop. Or maybe that CEO should take those smart young foxes under his wing…they may be replacing him one day.

        • Nicko2 says:

          Everyone pirates. Indeed, in emerging/developing economies, digital media is pirated almost exclusively. Before we had ubiquitous high speed internet, there were bootlegged CDs for $1 or $5, you get the picture. It’s a victimless crime.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          So, in the end, ‘moral hazard’ is just an endlessly fungible term and we’re all just thieving monkeys…perhaps that’s the actual driver of carbon-based life? (TANSTAAFL).

          may we all find a better day.

      • Lune says:

        Despite Hollywood’s attempts to conflate the two, violation of intellectual property restrictions is not the same as theft, both legally and morally. What’s the difference? The concept of theft applies only to property that can be used by one person at a time. So for example, we both can’t build a house on the same plot of land. Or where the same piece of clothing. So if you take the land that I own, then I can’t use it. And if you take my shirt, then I can’t use it.

        In contrast, violating IP rights is not theft. Because if I watch Black Widow without paying for it, it doesn’t prevent someone else from watching it as well. There is no limit to the number of people who can enjoy the single piece of IP that is ‘Black Widow’. Intellectual Property is not property, that’s why there’s a whole different set of laws surrounding it. Calling it property is just good marketing.

        What I do, by violating the IP rights of Disney, is deprive them of the opportunity to profit from their work. But it doesn’t restrict them from selling the work to other people, or using it for future works, etc. In contrast, if I steal someone’s car, I not only deprive him of the ability to profit from that car, but also his ability to sell that car on to someone else who might want it. See the difference?

        Of course, both are illegal. But they’re not the same. Hollywood wants you to think they’re the same so that you think that you’re wounding Hollywood in the same way you hurt your nieghbor by stealing his house. But it’s not the same. Just because sunny129’s kids violated their IP rights didn’t prevent them from still making $60mil streaming it to other people. It prevented them from making an additional $30 off of them (which they probably wouldn’t have made anyway because if those kids had to pay $30, they probably would not have watched it), but that’s a far cry from stealing your neighbor’s house, which would result in them becoming homeless.

        Even painting IP violators as “pirates” is just marketing; pirates actually stole real property. But when your “enemies” are just normal kids who are hard to tar as criminals, you look around for ways to demonize them regardless, because that’s vital to getting Congress to pass laws to continue protecting IP long after it should have passed into the public domain.

        • Felix_47 says:

          When we used to sell films and I was involved with that Disney would just take a cash payout for all rights in India or China and most of the rest of the world. The assumption was that it would be pirated and that the theatres had no real control of the audience. The people were unable to afford full price, the theatres were corrupt and the distributors were corrupt. A percentage of ticket sales would be meaningless. Now the US is really no different than the third world except we can print money easier right now.

        • Ed C says:

          Funny, Congress has passed laws with regard to immigration and border enforcement yet politicians of a certain political persuasion choose to ignore those laws and invite and outright incentivize illegal immigration. This is another kind of ‘streaming’ that angers a lot of people. When the government can’t be bothered to honor their own laws why shouldn’t citizens lie, cheat and steal?

        • robert says:

          And the Sophists became the defense lawyers …

        • Bill says:

          Lets not forget that price discrimination is also illegal, and yet Disney charges considerably less to view the same movie to most of the world.

        • Grave digr says:

          Hurting Hollywood absolutely is the right thing since they are the propaganda machine of the corporate fascist kleptocracy. Human laws are arbitrary, written by whoever is in power. Slavery used to be as legal as wife beating not long ago.

        • intosh says:

          @Grave digr

          “Human laws are arbitrary, written by whoever is in power.”

          Very true. IP is simply arbitrary business rules written by the businessmen for their business in a given market, nothing more.

          And the little guys are supposed to feel guilty if they don’t play by those rules?

        • Some Guy says:

          Fantastic comment, would be great if everyone would read this and get it through their head.

      • Degobah Smith says:

        I’m reminded of one of my favourite movie quotes from “Marathon Man” – “It’s a crazy world, and any way you can skin it is your business.”

        The fact that the plebs have caught onto this – and are bootlegging everything from movies to software – is just a sign of our times. The fish always rots from the head… or something like that. Just sayin’.

        • polecat says:

          Oh and what a splended rot it is, just look at Nancy & Mitch, to name but a few … rotten purple people eaters!

      • Heinz says:

        They say a fish rots from the head down.

        And that is what we see in our contemporary society.

        People see fishy antics of officialdom and elites in Wall Street, media, and education (to name a just a few circus rings under the big top of corruption and greed). This inspires moral hazard and loosening of morals at every level.

        Monkey see, monkey do.

      • Devon says:

        The Ten Commandments does not apply to corporations which are fictitious entities that cannot, die, go to jail, suffer pain and often pay fines after committing crimes against humanity. Therefore, it’s. perfectly OK to steal from big corporations.

        A small Mom and Pop business which is incorporated is not part of the above statement.

      • Alex rod says:

        I agree 100% but Disney has made a mess of copyright laws. They essentially have “legally” but immorally stolen from the public domain with their hyper aggressive efforts in extending copyrights. So fk them. Also copying is not theft.

      • Jax says:

        Save the preaching. Shoving morality in the face is what the rich do to the poor to keep them poor. Many can’t afford the 30 bucks for a movie that might not even be any good. Is there a refund for lousy movies? How many trailers only show select cuts that make it look good only to find out upon watching that the trailer had the best scenes and the movie was lousy. I know a lot of people who watch online for free and they all got dvd and blue ray collections of the movies they think was worth the purchase. Call it selective shopping or a test drive. Content producers just have to get used to the changing habits of customers. The days of suckering people with creative editing is gone.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      sunny129,

      Well, 2 million households did spend $60 million to watch the movie, instead of stealing it.

      I’m not sure what it would take to break Disney+’ system, but a VPN (lots of people have it) alone will not do it. It’s going to take a lot more than that.

      • cas127 says:

        Wolf,

        To me, the key question is whether or not new “studios” can arise (taking advantage of much, much cheaper streaming distribution) to challenge the bad old Hollywood oligopoly (which also has close to a stranglehold on TV production too).

        Film distribution/tv advertising used to be the chokepoint that the oligopoly used…now those are infinitely more accessible to competitors.

        But awareness of individual films will be key…for instance, there are well over a million websites…another easy ocean to get lost in.

        And witness Netflix’s fountain of meh.

        • intosh says:

          “And witness Netflix’s fountain of meh.”

          Be prepared for a ocean of “meh” then because this streaming business model will produce “meh” in greater amount than ever. This is the next level in fast-food entertainment where you can consume an entire season of a TV show in a week.

          Huge quality blockbuster productions like Lord of the Rings would probably not exist with this business model.

        • cas127 says:

          “Huge quality blockbuster productions like Lord of the Rings would probably not exist with this business model.”

          Likely true (although somebody really has to convince me that a blockbuster has to cost $200 million versus, say, a mere $100 million…Hollywood thy name is skim..) but most of the greatest dramas and comedies in existence rely upon insight into human nature and skillful dialogue rather than CGI and blowing things up real good.

          For instance, Shakespeare (and knockoffs) are in the public domain and cheaply staged by every piddling theater troupe in existence.

          Absent pointless star salaries and crooked budget inflation, almost every CGI light film could be decently staged for $10 to $30 million.

          Those $50 million plus budgets were an outgrowth of the studios’ basic oligopoly in films and tv. They were the luxuriant overgrowth of corruption and excess.

          I think I rather hear from some new, less spoiled film makers.

      • Rowen says:

        The VPN is to download the 4K torrent without one’s broadband company sending a very threatening letter.

        I just paid the $30 so that all my siblings families can watch, which I’m sure violates the fine print as well.

        • SwissBrit says:

          Depending on where you are located, VPNs give you the option of streaming products that might not otherwise be available in your location – here in Switzerland a lot of movies are only available in German or French audio options, despite them being originally in English; a VPN allows us to choose from a different selection of options.
          A South American friend living here uses a VPN to get Spanish language media that wouldn’t otherwise be available.

      • Petunia says:

        American movies push the liberal and degenerate agenda and that doesn’t sells to the people who would spend. And I hate to keep bringing it up, but a certain segment can’t behave themselves in public spaces, malls and theaters. I don’t have the patience to bother anymore, I’ll stay home.

        Mostly watch Netflix foreign dramas, where the level of degeneracy is low.

        • blackshadow says:

          I can smell the cross-burnings on your end right through the internet. LOL Grow up “Petunia”.

        • MiTurn says:

          Well stated.

        • Gordon Gupta says:

          The liberal agenda is the Chinese empowerment agenda.

          The right is basically mentally impaired and nearly as irrelevant. So there is no winning. In my 40s, I fully expect that the rest of my life will be worse than the first 40 years of it. I fear for my child because they world they will grow up in will be one of voluntary collective feudalism with a sprinkling of ecological apocalyptic obsession and crisis after crisis to further the power grab.

        • polecat says:

          What? … I’m shocked, SHOCKED I say! .. that you are Not ensconced in the requisite viewing of woke celluloid! .. with all it’s rainbow crt idpol gooeyness .. What’s wrong with you Petunia???

        • polecat says:

          Why U no social .. ist?

        • Anthony A. says:

          I’m with you Petunia, but I mostly watch sports.

        • doug says:

          You mean like those by clint eastwood?

        • Pavel says:

          I still have Netflix but as many have noted the signal to noise ratio is getting worse and worse. I discovered Criterion’s streaming service a few months ago and it is an absolute godsend! I find more films I want to see in 10 minutes than in 10 hours on Netflix. The UI is great and tho’ I forget how much I’m paying I think it is less than NF.

          Just watched “Rashomon” last night, and “The Long Good Friday” (for the Nth time) the night before. Great stuff!

        • Petunia says:

          blackshadow,

          Latinos are not welcome in the clan. And I’m not a democrat which is the party of the clan.

        • cas127 says:

          Blackshadow,

          Petunia’s complaint had plenty of “get off my lawn” orneriness but,

          “can smell the cross-burnings”

          is more a function of your own fevered imagination and Hollywood inspired cosplay.

        • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

          American movies have been wildly successful for a century and are famous and money makers around the world.

          People all over the world love American films.

          I love foreign films too but your comment is ridiculous on so many levels, I wouldn’t even know where to start.

          Even if the theaters all go out of business, it will be after a century of making money hand over fist.

          For the 15 yrs before Covid came along, they averaged $60,000,000,000 – $70,000,000.00 ANNUALLY. That’s BILLION with a B.

          Why you listen to Covid Don and Tucker is a huge mystery to rationale people.

      • Nicko2 says:

        The way I look at it, relatively wealthy American consumers are subsidizing the rest of the world’s mediaconsumption (ie. 100 million Disney plus customers vs. 8 billion other humans).

      • sunny129 says:

        Wolf

        I didn’t put that comment just for ‘Black Widow’ but to draw attention to anti-Corporation attitude prevalent in many of the young ones (Not from those privy to be born to top1-5% elites). Most of them feel and rightfully so. America is run by Corporatocracy, PAC etc. irrespective of either of the parties!

        America, the best democracy Money can Buy!

        The $50 Trillion Plundered from Workers by America’s Aristocracy Is Trickling Back
        C.H.Smith

      • sunny129 says:

        Wolf

        It is NOTHING do with VPN but with Bit Torrent technology.
        VPN makes your IP, hard to trace.

        By combining both, there is an industry out there for those unwilling to shell out what ever Corporate lord decides. It is only for those who are tech savy and NOT that easy, as many imagining here!.Making a profit out of it, goes beyond that line of ‘just for personal use’ or steal. It is the technology enpowering individual, in this corporate controlled world.

    • Kaleberg says:

      How do you watch Disney movies for free with a virtual private network? Don’t you need a Disney account and password? I suppose if Disney were streaming the movie for free in Mongolia, you could use a VPN to pretend you are in Mongolia, but I don’t think Disney is streaming Black Widow for free anywhere.

      Since I have a VPN, a paid for service, I’m kind of curious about watching Black Widow for free. I’m sure others are similarly curious. Please enlighten us.

      • Mike G says:

        You still need a source to (illegally) download the movie. I have friends who know sources but am not into this myself.
        The Virtual Private Network client disguises your computer’s internet protocol address so the download can’t easily to be traced to you. Basically it makes a “tunnel” through the internet to the VPN company’s address so the download appears to be made from that location.
        Kind of like having a PO Box so people sending you mail don’t know where your house is.

      • Nicko2 says:

        Peer-to-peer file sharing is still the go to technology, been that way for decades.

      • SwissBrit says:

        The VPN is the equivalent of the robber’s mask – it doesn’t make what you’re doing legal, but it makes it harder for people to know who’s doing the thieving

      • David G LA says:

        Google “torrent” and read up.

      • sunny129 says:

        Kaleberg

        Read about ‘Bit Torrent’ technology flourishing in the World, since late 90s!
        Only those techy savy are good at it. Not by the majority out there!

      • sunny129 says:

        Kaleberg

        Read my comment above to Wolf.

      • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

        Nah man, it’s not the VPN that’s the key to this.

        It’s the Cyber, man…….it’s the Cyber.

        I know an elderly, mentally ill, slimy former condo pitchman….claims he’s a real wiz w/ “The Cyber”.

        And some of them are using LASERS.

  2. stan65 says:

    Movie theatres, obviously, are joining the path of shopping malls.

    Soon to be heaped on the dustbin of history.

    £20 tickets, £10 popcorn, £10 ice cream; farewell!

    • MiTurn says:

      Do they have discount theaters in the UK? Personally, I do not enjoy movies, but the wife will take the grandkids to the local discount theater to see movies (already a year on the market) for $5 a person.

      • JoAnn Leichliter says:

        It’s not just that movie theaters are losing their appeal, although that is true. Disney turns every franchise it acquires into crap.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          Star Wars wasn’t exactly that great before Disney bought it, yet it still had a huge following. I never saw A New Hope in theatres but did the next two. Empire Strikes Back was kind of neat because it was novel; had never seen anything like it before. I always thought Return of the Jedi totally “sucked” and the 7th installment (and sequel) was a rehash of the same storyline. I tried to watch another one (Clone Wars?) on Netflix when I had it and could not do it. It was so boring.

          Lucasfilm didn’t fully leverage their intellectual property which is all Disney is doing now, bought it cheaply.

        • Anthony A. says:

          “Disney turns every franchise it acquires into crap.”

          You would never know this looking at their stock performance.

        • RightNYer says:

          Anthony, at this point, stocks trade like rare artwork or stamps. They have nothing to do with the underlying performance of the company that issued them. It’s all about buying hoping you can sell to a greater fool later.

        • Mike G says:

          You would never know this looking at their stock performance.

          Highly profitable crap, but nonetheless artistically crap.

      • SwissBrit says:

        Not that I know of

    • K says:

      The prices are high now but remember that they are still “cheap date” locations and easily available. I predict that, while much reduced, if the variants ever stop coming, the theaters will make a come back. They are cheaper than alternatives and weather proof for dating.

      They provide discreet locations for first dates, kissing, and the first bases regardless of what is on screen. I do not remember all of the horror movies I went to but I do remember the girls suddenly hugging me in terror at the horror movies.

      • Anthony A. says:

        I used to take my dates (in past younger days) to Drive-In movies. Much more privacy in your car. LOL

      • Petunia says:

        I have fond memories of The Gramercy Theater in NYC, $1 at all times. Acquired my love of foreign films there going on a weekly date night. The hole in the wall diner across the street had a $5.95 dinner special at all times too. Date night was less than $20 and although both places could be considered dumps, always had a good time.

        Now you spend a lot more and are sorry you bothered.

        • polecat says:

          Fear not, Petunia .. eventually, when we’re poorer, enduring life with less .. of Everything .. live entertainment – in the close encounters of an itinerant roadshow theater kind – will become a thing again .. and we’ll all probably be better for it.

          ‘Make Murika Clap Again’

        • Heinz says:

          “Now you spend a lot more and are sorry you bothered.”

          Inflation, inflation, inflation … Inflation is always monkey hammering the value of fiat USD.

          So, just for grins if we take Wolf’s example of average movie ticket costing $5.99 in 2001– well, due to cumulative inflation rate of 53.5% since 2001 that $5.99 is now worth $8.69 in today’s devalued dollars– closer to Wolf’s avg. ticket price quote of $9.16 in 2019.

          Data is from US Inflation Calculator online.

    • David Hall says:

      Marvel was a comic book company. There used to sell comic books in stores. This Black Widow movie trailer reminded me of the comic book legend “Spider-Man.”

      Comic book, newspaper and magazine stands they used to have in stores are gone. Book stores are in decline.

      I went to my local mall. Stores have been closing as people buy more clothes and shoes online. There is a mall theater near some vacant store fronts at the bankrupt Sears store end of the mall. There was a couple with a young boy buying tickets for the matinee. No one else was in line.

    • John says:

      And to think all the mall owners were expecting life style businesses (e.g., movie theaters) would save their failing rental business model.

  3. MCH says:

    So, buy DIS, short AMC?

    Heheh. Seriously though, the implication is that 2M households shoveled out $30 for this movie. It wasn’t even that good. It’s insane.

    So, Disney must be laughing all the way to the bank, because you note that they did NOT ever disclose how much Mulan made at that model. Because that must have been some kind of awful, if they kept their mouth shut.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      MCH,

      “It wasn’t even that good.”

      Were you one of the 2 million that “shoveled out $30” for it?

      :-]

      • Tankster says:

        Wicked films already has a “Parody” and it comes as part of their streaming package for $99/yr. FWIW how does a VPN allow you to cheat a firewall/PPV? Never mind…

        • Michael Gorback says:

          My thoughts exactly. Someone is conflating downloading a torrent using a VPN with streaming using a VPN. A torrent is not a stream. It’s a file distributed on p2p network.

          If you’re using a VPN as a workaround for geofencing what you’re doing is illegal. Sometimes there are regional licensing prohibitions. Using a VPN to get free copies of commercial products is called stealing.

          You can wrap yourself in a all kinds of convoluted sophistry, but it’s illegal to use a VPN to circumvent regional contract restrictions or to obtain a copyrighted product for free..

          So never, ever bitch about immoral corporations because you’ve lost the moral high ground.

      • MCH says:

        I still like my movies in theaters. ?

        It’s also cheaper than $30. I have no desire to pay $30 to watch it 10x.

        Oh and I didn’t subscribe to D+

      • cas127 says:

        Wolf,

        In the “inventing work for Wolf” category, it would be interesting to see the subscriber counts for the top 10 or 20 streaming companies.

        Initially, the studio brand names will dominate (as they have per my drive- by knowledge of subscriber counts) but over time (hopefully/maybe) the tremendously lowered cost of distribution will allow dozens of competitors to subdivide the audience and force prices down through competition.

        Disney’s kid content may be a special case, but the tech shift here should/might have profound competitive implications.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      So you watched a movie about a comic book character and it “wasn’t even that good.”?!?!

      Big surprise the ‘comic book movie’ didn’t turn out to be “Citizen Kane”!

  4. doug says:

    I would suggest the exhibitor may have given up 90% of the gate the first week, with it sliding down to 50% over weeks. But yes, they are toast.

    • gametv says:

      The shift away from movie theaters has been long and is simply driven by better quality of display at home – viewing on a big screen tv from your couch can easily rival the movie theater.

      • billytrip says:

        Exactly. With a cheap 65″ screen 10 feet away I have a higher quality picture than in any theater. I can pause the film to get a beer or return one to the environment and not miss anything. If a distraction happens or something went by too fast, I can back it up and look at it again. I haven’t been to a theatre since work functions 10 years ago. I don’t miss them.

    • Alisha says:

      The sliding scale went away in the 90’s.

      Disney’s take is around 65%, depending on the exhibitor.

      It would be interesting to see how streaming sales are vs theaters this next weekend.

  5. Seneca's cliff says:

    The big question ,as others have mentioned, is what did Disney make in Streaming fees for Mulan, the first of the No-Domestic Theatre movies. I have tried to figure it out but it seems as if Disney is hiding it. From what I have read it does not seem like it paid back it’s $200 million dollar cost. Maybe in addition to a smaller theatre market, movies will have to become much smaller with lower production costs. The days of James Bond and Star Wars may be over with the future belonging to the equivalent of Woody Allen Movies and the Steven Segal.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      If the replacement for Daniel Craig is who I heard it is, I’m boycotting the franchise until the next change, at minimum. I have had enough and James Bond is my favorite movie franchise.

      • Apple says:

        A female bond? *gasp*

      • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

        You know, I’m 53 and I grew up watching Bond films.

        As with Jason Bourne, Mission Impossible, etc….aren’t you all finding it just a little hard to suspend your disbelief after Bond/Bourne/etc. getting out of 742 different ‘their gonna kill him” scenarios?!?!

        You may want to try joining Petunia for a good foreign film with a few less car chases and explosions!! :)

    • intosh says:

      “movies will have to become much smaller with lower production costs.”

      Right.

      This is what directors like Denis Villeneave (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049, Sicario, Dune) and Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, Interstellar) believe too.

  6. 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

    Depending on the season, area of country, future costs of power (tongue firmly in cheek, here) theatres should charge for access to their air-conditioned space for a period of time, movie an option…(concession sales should then remain the true revenue-generator).

    may we all find a better day.

    • Russell says:

      We essentially did that with a private screening of Sandlot for my son’s post-season baseball party. The kids were offered a $10 snack pack (hot dog, drink and popcorn) to attend but purchase wasn’t required. We had about 30 people in the otherwise empty theatre.

    • Nathan Dumbrowski says:

      Well there is always bringing back …Frank-N-Furter is a character from theatrical and cinematographic productions of The Rocky Horror Show since 1973 to this day, including the 1975 original film, the 2015 tribute production celebrating 40 years, and the 2016 reimagining film

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      That’s part of what attracted people to ‘film palaces’ like the Tampa Theater (opened in 1921) at first. It cost 25 cents to go in.

  7. Swamp Creature says:

    I would rather to go to the theater and see a movie there, but these movies now are crap and nothing but glorified cartoons. They are targeted for a different audience than the old days. The last movie I went to was “1917” a year an a half ago. Comcast cable has better movies for free. I’m done with the theaters and Hollywood. They can take their business elsewhere.

    • Harrold says:

      Who makes the movies on cable these days?

    • Keith says:

      That’s the problem. Going out to the movies used to be fun and affordable. As a kid, dinner, movie and then hit the arcade or bowling alley for a wonderful Friday or Saturday night that a high school kid or family of four could easily afford. Back then, the movies were fun. Today, crapified entertainment compounded with sky high prices and the consumer is better staying home.

  8. Brady Boyd says:

    Perhaps if there was a decent product to watch with a quality script people would go back to theaters.

    Instead they keep recycling a tired storyline over and over or continue these nauseating action hero movies where the actors do everything in front of a green screen.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      +1

      Seem to rely on special effects and name recognition as the formula.

      • Taxman100 says:

        Movies are designed for the Asian markets as well, so the less dialogue and real acting, the easier it is to sell internationally.

        Corporate America Films is no longer about making movies for the United States.

      • Keith says:

        with their target audience young males. Heaven forbid one grows up! We then get treated to the umpteenth Spiderman (or Spiderperson) reboot.

    • LMW says:

      “Perhaps if there was a decent product to watch with a quality script people would go back to theaters.”

      people have been singing this tune since the beginning of time. and the box office has only gone up and up and up. and those action hero movies have been the biggest of the big in terms of making money. the pandemic is the obvious reason theaters are taking a huge hit.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        LMW,

        “and the box office has only gone up and up and up.”

        Rising ticket prices covered up declining ticket sales.

        Ticket sales, in terms of number of tickets sold, peaked in 2002 and have been declining ever since.

        Ticket prices rose faster…

        … and so dollar revenues kept rising until 2018, which was the peak. Then they fell in 2019 and collapsed in 2020.

        • BuySome says:

          Looks like the “reality trend” was clearly being established a few years prior to ’02. Perhaps without the temporary blip of Special Editions and Episode 1, the wave would have crested sooner. Apparently, “Come on in boys…the water’s fine” only works as a movie line in period flicks.

        • LMW says:

          correct that ticket prices made up for less tickets. i was just saying they have still been making more and more revenue over time (people are still forking over more cumulative money) so the idea that “the product sucks so people aren’t going to movies” just doesn’t hold up. the pandemic is what has caused this seismic shift.

          it was the same argument when napster came out and people said CD sales fell because music wasn’t good anymore, despite sales being as high as ever right until napster happened.

          honestly, i’m amazed movie sales have held up as well as they have in the streaming era.

        • cas127 says:

          I still want my $17 bucks back for Tron: Legacy 3D in 2010…

  9. 728huey says:

    I personally would not pay $30 to stream a first-run movie on my TV, but then again I’m single. If I had a family with a wife and at least two kids, went to the prime time theater showing, plus had to pay for gas, parking, plus overpriced popcorn and soda for everyone, I would have easily paid at least $75 just to see this movie in the theaters. So I can see why someone would choose to stream this on Disney + (or HBO Max). (I won’t get into the piracy part; that’s an entirely other big issue.) But I saw the writing on the wall back on Christmas, 2014 after the big cyber hack of Columbia Pictures by the “North Koreans”. At any rate Columbia Pictures was about to release “The Interview”, which was at that time just another raunchy comedy by Seth Rogen and James Franco that centered around an exclusive TV interview of Kim Jong-Un in North Korea. No one really expected this movie to be some massive blockbuster, but after this hacker group threatened to take down all of the Hollywood computer servers, Columbia panicked and pulled the movie from all theaters before it was even released. They decided to stream it online at the last minute to try to recoup their losses, and they actually were able to recover their costs despite streaming it at a discounted price of five dollars.
    I’m only surprised the major studios didn’t resort to streaming movies earlier, but then again only Netflix and Amazon were streaming movies at the time, so maybe they were planning on building their own streaming services back then. With those results plus the cost of even larger LCD and LED TV’S actually coming down, it was only inevitable that people would forgo the big movie theaters and stream stuff at home.

  10. Paulo says:

    At least at home you can stop people from using their phones with the irritating lights. People can move in and out of their seats without an ass strike, and the snacks are better, too.

    Modern movies are simply glorified cartoons with the main acting credits going to a digital studio. Even something like a modern James Bond flick cannot be filmed without computer manipulation. Regular action movies are pretty bad, especially anything with Tom Cruise. How this remains any kind of industry shows what happens to a society that no longer reads. Googly eyed Disney characters and darting fish being people? Really?

    Actors used to actually act. What a concept. Why they are paid what they now receive defies imagination.

    The one good thing about animated characters is that they don’t stand up in a few years and tell you how to live, think, and who to vote for. That’s somewhat refreshing.

    • LMW says:

      Wolf,

      Is there a way to add a bitterness filter to the comment section that makes comments seems 30-50% more cheery? not to single out Paulo, but everyone here seems to hate everything about everything.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        LMW,

        ?❤ Yes, a “bitterness filter” would be an interesting filter to have.

        But I love bitter beer (IPAs), bitter chocolate, bitter tarry coffee, bitter gourd… for me, “bitter” is a compliment.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Remember Ambrose’s handle-tribute news reporter was known as ‘Bitter Bierce’, and this back in the late 19th century. His ‘Devil’s Dictionary’ which i stumbled across in high school remains an entertaining browse. His disappearance in Mexico during one of its myriad revolutions remains an unsolved mystery…

          may we all find a better day.

      • Trailer Trash says:

        What, you don’t find grumpy old men to be entertaining? LOL.

        Seems like lotsa people liked the movie, enough to make a sequel…

        Maybe we should work on our comedic skills…

      • 728huey says:

        I have noticed a lot of crankiness on these threads lately, and it makes me wonder whether a lot of time has been spent yelling at clouds. (And not the Amazon AWS, Google Drive, and Microsoft Azure variety either.) Especially over the employment threads which some people believe people aren’t getting jobs because they’re receiving six figures of unemployment benefits. It’s almost as though they’re telling g young people to quit complaining and man up like they did when they were children, having to walk to school in their bare feet ten miles to school in 3 feet of snow and ten degrees below zero weather, uphill, both ways, and occasionally had to kill massively hungry grizzly bears with their textbooks along the way to school.

        • Nicko2 says:

          So funny! ?

        • Heinz says:

          “I have noticed a lot of crankiness on these threads lately,”

          Yes it looks that way. And thank goodness for differences of opinion.

          If we want more upbeat ‘it’s all good, everything is under control’ opinions we need only go to officialdom’s Ministry of Truth and MSM outlets to get our daily dose of dystopian sugar-coated panglossian viewpoints.

          It is after all the best of all possible worlds and the people in charge want us to know it.

      • cas127 says:

        LMW,

        “Get off my lawn, you meddling kids!!!”

      • 2GeekRnot2geek says:

        LMW, Here’s something a little cheerier just for you.

        I learned to read from my older siblings comic books. My personal favorites in no particular order: Thor, The Eternals, X-Men, Spider Man, Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Metal Men, and the Avengers.

        Seeing them them brought to life is wonderful. Seeing Hela with the CGI battle helmet, and Asgard looking exactly like a Jack Kirby full page panel was AWESOME! (sorry for yelling.) And I can’t wait to see The Eternals in the fall. The 8 year old that still lives in me somewhere, loves super hero films.

        But my favorite part of the “Marvel Universe” of the 21st Century was Jack Kirby’s estate winning the lawsuit that Stan Lee was not the sole creator of Spider Man, Fantastic Four, etc. Settled by Disney/Marvel for an undisclosed sum. And his name is now in the credits where it belongs. :-D

        Cheers!

    • NoPrep says:

      Clint Eastwood, to his credit, will always make a real movie. But he’s 91 now. I wonder if he’s done?

      • Bet says:

        He talks to empty chairs

      • Nathan Dumbrowski says:

        Clint Eastwood’s son is acting now. Scott has his Dads facial movements. Check out The Wrath of Man with Jason Statham. Enjoyable movie

        Personally have a $23/month AMC movie pass that allows me to see any three movies a week including IMAX.

        Give Black Widow a thumbs up. PACKED IMAX theatre last Thursday

    • intosh says:

      “Actors used to actually act. What a concept. Why they are paid what they now receive defies imagination.”

      This reminds me, Jason Statham’s face did not change one bit during the whole movie, in Wrath of Man. That’s an amazing acting prowess in itself if you ask me.

      With the unbelievable face CGI and deepfakes these days (e.g. Samuel Jackson in Captain Marvel), maybe we’re not too far from actors being paid just for the rights of their face, to be reproduced digitally. Actors won’t even need to actually act.

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

        Intosh-author’s name escapes me, now, but an ’60’s SF short story entitled ‘The Darfsteller’ foretold your scenario…

        may we all find a better day.

    • wojtek says:

      “The one good thing about animated characters is that they don’t stand up in a few years and tell you how to live, think, and who to vote for. ”

      Of course they do. And will more and more. They’ll also say more ridiculous things, b/c the concept of guilt is foreign to animated characters.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      Paulo, you’re not seeking out the good films.

      They’re not at the regular theaters. It’s boutique theaters that play the independent, foreign, classic, etc…

      That’s where you go to find good films. They’re still out there. You can have to look harder to find them.

  11. Ensign_Nemo says:

    Most theaters make more money from the sales of overpriced candy, popcorn, and soda than they do from their cut of the ticket prices. A young man would make it a ‘date night’ with a young woman and he would just accept that he was forced to spend the extra money, as a feeble sort of ‘conspicuous consumption’ that even a teenager with a part-time job could afford.

    Now dating itself seems to be a dead custom as kids use Tinder for hookups rather than pursuing the 1950s traditions of more formalized courtship. Tech isn’t just removing the barriers of delivery and display, with Internet streaming to big digital TVs, it is also removing the social structure that made it a social norm to go on a ‘dinner and a movie’ date with a ‘steady’ girlfriend.

    Heck, with the LGBTx stuff being promoted so heavily by The Powers That Be that even Midwestern supermarkets are now celebrating June as LGBTx month by playing bad 1970s music (the Village People’s YMCA, ugh), the very idea that “there should be a social norm that a boy and a girl should go on a date” is seen as reactionary and a borderline hate crime.

    • Apple says:

      Phylicia Rashād (she played the wife on the Cosby show) was married to Victor Willis, lead singer of The Village People.

    • c_heale says:

      People still go on dates. With Covid around sitting in a movie theatre is one of the most stupid things you can do. The old movie/dinner date could be pretty transactional so who cares if it’s gone.

      Better to go to a café or a bar with outdoor seating.

      LGBTx people also go on dates too.

      Even before cinema was ever invented people went on dates.

      And online dating is way more tedious and time consuming than just going up and chatting to someone. People will get together whatever the circumstances. They managed it in the stone age.

  12. Randy Oldman says:

    I always thought that going to the movies was a good socially cohesive experience. Sitting in a darkened theater with hundreds of strangers and experiencing collective emotions, showing approval, disgust or anger and measuring your emotions to the crowd. Oh yes I have a big screen and watch with family or pals but it will never be the same.

    • RightNYer says:

      Or more likely hundreds of strangers chomping away at 2000 calorie tubs of popcorn, playing with their cell phones, coughing, chatting, or laughing like hyenas.

      No thanks.

  13. Taxman100 says:

    The nice thing about streaming is I never watch movies or television personally. My wife is not technically savvy enough to figure out the entire streaming thing.

    We do have Netflix, but I’ve been trying to get my wife to agree to drop it for years. I used to watch Adam-12 on it with my oldest son a decade ago.

    No theatres mean my children won’t beg to go to movies, from which I have to spend time when they get home deprogramming them from the left-wing “woke” Hate-America immoral propaganda they are immersed in for 90 minutes.

    • NoPrep says:

      The Streets of San Francisco. Couldn’t beat Karl Malden. A disturbing thing to me is how much Gavin Newsom looks like a somewhat younger Michael Douglas (Douglas in the late 80s or early 90s – not the kid he was in that TV show).

  14. JRHill says:

    Its summer. In some places its 100f and others much less. But regardless of where you live, get your butt off the couch and get outside. What do you do in the winter? More of the same?

  15. Trailer Trash says:

    It’s interesting that no one mentions the horrible shaky-cam and constant edit-edit-edit. A ten year old could do better. This style of production literally gives me a headache and some anxiety as my brain tries to keep up.

    I gave up on movie theaters a long time ago. And every year I find fewer and fewer programs on over-the-air TV that are tolerable.

    I miss that cable channel that used to show old movies without breaks, 24 hours a day. Turner Classic Movies, was that the name?

  16. MonkeyBusiness says:

    Comparing Black Widow and Avengers: End Game is a reach . People who don’t read comics will not understand, but the later is a once in a decade (or every five years) event, bringing together characters from ALL Marvel Superhero movies for a grand finale. Think about it as the All Star Game. Not even Disney had that expectation for the Black Widow movie. A more proper comparison would be with something like Doctor Strange, and even that might be a reach. Black Widow is at best a C level character given her own movie. Fans clamored for a movie back in 2014, and it took Disney more than 5 years to even bring the project to fruition. Tells you everything about what Disney was thinking.

    So yeah, Avengers : Endgame wasn’t just a movie. To Wolf, it is, but to the industry it wasn’t.

    I looked at Doctor Strange’s box office numbers from way back in 2016, and it brought in $85 million the first week. If you factor in inflation, Black Widow is clearly bringing in less, but we are also just recovering from a pandemic, and streaming blockbusters weren’t a thing back then.

    By the way I am not a fan of the character, so at the end of the day I don’t care about the box office number, but every other movie back in 2019 also made LESS than Avengers Endgame including Spiderman AND the Star Wars Finale.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “…the later is a once in a decade (or every five years) event,…”

      OK, four in eight years, or one every 1.8 years:
      2019: Avengers: Endgame
      2018: Avengers: Infinity War
      2015: Avengers: Age of Ultron
      2012: The Avengers

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        Wolf, again this betrays your lack of understanding. The first two Avengers movies only had a limited amount of characters.

        Endgame is the sequel to Infinity War. One can’t exist without the other. And yes every character from every Marvel movie ever made made an appearance in the last two, so basically stars from the first two Avengers movies, Spiderman, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, etc, etc. I mean it’s truly an ensemble cast that will not reunite again for a long time, in fact ever (no spoilers).

        You are basically comparing the movie of the decade to a run of the mill single superhero movie, and the numbers bear it out. Avengers: Endgame is the best performing movie the last decade, so yeah, every other movie in the last decade performed worse than Avengers Endgame.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          OK, forget it. 2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed $248 million, v. $80 million for Black Widow. Even the Harry Potter flicks from 20 years ago out-grossed Black Widow on the first weekend. You quibble but there are 97 movies that grossed more than Black Widow during the 1st weekend. That’s the point. And that includes inflation. Adjusted for ticket price increases over the past 20 years, Black Widow might be in 200th place or worse. It was a lousy start.

        • IronForge says:

          Mister Richter,

          How about the following analogy?

          Avengers MCU Series would relate to the Modern Lord of the Rings Movie Trilogy – Big Cast Big Budget + Entire “Universe Epoch Story”.

          “Black Widow” would relate to a 1970s Animated Cartoon Film Version of the “Hobbit”.

          Significance of Scope + Budget.
          Not a workable Comparison. You need more similar Scope/Scale Movies for that.
          ****

  17. IronForge says:

    1) “Black Widow” isn’t climactic as “Endgame” was.

    2) We don’t know if the “Black Widow” Movie Plot was going to be a Spy/Action Thriller, a LifetimeTV “Women Good, Men Bad” DocuDrama, a Dancing Musical, or a RomCom like this

  18. Seneca's cliff says:

    Here is a thought, maybe without theaters the big movie studios like Disney will no longer be needed and will go down the road of the big record labels. Movie production houses and directors will raise a few million bucks, make a movie and then stream it on a service like Amazon where they will be paid per view, like streaming music. Then when the newness wears off they can rent it out for a fixed price on Netflix or something. The big movie studios got that way because they controlled the distribution business and the production studios. Now with smaller cameras, PC editing platforms and such these big studios no longer really fullfil a purpose. As the movie theaters fade away so will the likes of Disney and Universal.

    • SwissBrit says:

      Sounds good to me – then hopefully movies will get big because they’re good, rather than because they’re being hyped by some all-powerful company spending millions on publicity

  19. Putter says:

    AMC is the top weighted stock in the Russell 2000. Before the pandemic, it was $6-7. Now at $42. Makes sense.

  20. Cobalt Programmer says:

    I am not that old, but movies today are not that good. Every movie includes a strong female character, sometimes several, one man per every race and some social justice stuff. They divert the audience from the main plot. Also, movies back then were only 90mins. Now, they are making so long and it gets boring. This is to make people feel like they are getting more for the higher streaming fees. But the scenes are not crisp and sags in the middle. The major advantage of the streaming is said to be cutting the chord. But, with several streaming services based on subscription and activation fees and add per movie fees, its worse than cable TV. The end of streaming services will be when they stop password sharing advantages.

    • Nicko2 says:

      One could argue, large budget films have always been predominantly mediocre.

      I’d suggest you check out your local movie festival for something different and/or mentally engaging.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      You must live in an alternative reality.

      You say “Every movie includes a strong female character, sometimes several…”

      1) I suggest you go find out what “The Bechdel Test” is.
      2) Note that 90%+ of all films fail the test going back 100 years.

      Sorry, that dog don’t hunt….

  21. joe2 says:

    Cheap large screen TVs for the home and scary stories about people meeting in group venues, exchanging germs and dying. Just a few politically well connected corporate streaming services to select the correct entertainment to present.

    Isolation of people and thus isolation of ideas not centrally approved and provided directly via TV by an alleged news organization, approved entertainment provider, or licensed influencer. This country has fallen a long way even during my life.

    Wolf you have to cut out this uncensored social commentary and go back to pumping stocks or you will get bought out for millions….. or mob canceled.

  22. Brent says:

    No,no,the Future of Movie Theaters is bright !!!
    All of you totally miss the point of going to the movies.

    It is not-it cant be emphasized enough-it is not about yet another pathetic Disney PC BS outpourings featuring, say, Denzel Washington as Russian Czar.

    “Having only enough of a reputation to be regarded as “the kind of man who goes to “Oh! Calcutta!” to look at the audi­ence.”
    (Rumored to be said about Bill Colby upon his appointment as DCI in Sept 1973)

    As the level of savagery & low level societal mischief increases its gonna be even more fun to watch the audience !

  23. polecat says:

    Can ANYONE imagine life without Holywooden/Big Celluloid? ..

    I can .. without the Bernaysian $auce.

  24. Kaleberg says:

    Right now, we have a choice to see movies in theaters or elsewhere, but I wonder how long we’ll have that choice. When anti-trust split theaters and studios way back in history, there were lots of studios and lots of theaters. Now, there are a handful of studios and a handful of theater chains.

    I don’t see studios going away, If anything, we have a few new ones like Netflix, Amazon and Apple. (If you think Apple’s offerings are lame, try to imagine what Google Studios would put out.) I can imagine theater chains going away, but i can imagine small, local theaters surviving either as independents that know their markets or as non-profits. Music recording was invented over a hundred years ago, but somehow my town of 20,000 has a symphonic orchestra.

    Personally, I loved the Marvel movies, but I was always a fan of Marvel comics. Sarah Finn deserves credit just for casting all twenty or so, a prodigious effort in an underappreciated role. To be honest, Hollywood was always making sequels and cranking out franchise flicks. Look at all the Thin Man and Francis the Talking Mule movies that got cranked out, Read some vintage Mad Magazine to get a feel for the kind of drek pumped out in the 1960s.

  25. Stan Sexton says:

    Top Gun has been in the can for two years. Are they waiting for a theater comeback?

  26. Lune says:

    There’s a great article by the Electronic Freedom Foundation:

    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2021/04/what-movie-studios-refuse-understand-about-streaming

    About how streaming services are basically replicating the type of market integration that the Supreme Court broke down in the 1940s. In the seminal US v Paramount decision, the Supreme Court barred movie studios from owning movie theaters and distributors. That opened the way for independent movies to thrive, since they could sell their movies to theaters without having to go through a studio.

    The EFF article makes a good case that with streaming, we’re going backwards: movie studios now own the distribution channel as well (not just streaming, but most studios are now owned by media conglomerates that own wireless phone networks, cable, over-the-air networks, and a streaming service) just like before.

    Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling, if you want to watch Black Widow, you can go to any number of theaters, not just Disney-owned theaters. And those theaters are free to show movies not just from Disney but from Warner Bros, Universal, independents, etc. whatever they think their audience might want to watch.

    But with streaming, this is increasingly not the case: if you want to watch Black Widow, you need to buy Disney+. If you want to watch Suicide Squad, you need to buy TimeWarner. And if you want to watch Mission Impossible, you need to subscribe to Paramount+. (And of course, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. all have their own exclusive shows). There’s a good case to be made that we should break up the streaming services, just like we did with the distributors, and bar studios from owning the distribution channels. Netflix, Disney, TimeWarner, etc. should be forced to spin off their streaming services, and focus on production, or vice versa. Then, streaming services could buy content from whatever studios they wish, and tailor their slate to the preferences of whatever their target users are. And Netflix can’t force you to buy access to thousands of crappy shows just because you’re addicted to the one good show they put out every year.

    We’ll see if the Biden administration really means it when he says they’re going to go after tech monopolies. Otherwise, we’ll end up “cutting the cord” to cable, only to end up paying significantly more for significantly less entertainment than we used to get. Or did you really think every studio is pursuing this vertical integration to give you *better* content, at *lower* prices?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Yes, but what EFF doesn’t get is that movie theaters, like brick-and-mortar department stores, have been obviated by events. Consumers want a choice. They don’t want to be forced to go movie theaters if they want to see a movie. Disney competes with Netflix and Amazon, not with movie theaters. Most movie theaters, like brick-and-mortar department stores, will more or less gradually disappear because Americans have changed the way they want to consume movies – enabled by big affordable screens for home use.

      • Lune says:

        Absolutely. we’re in agreement on that. I think the article is saying that we should impose the same separation between production and distribution on the streaming services that we (used to) have on theaters, precisely because streaming is becoming the dominant form of media consumption.

        • Michael Gorback says:

          I agree. The content is being fragmented.

          I used to subscribe to Hulu just for one show. If I’d seen the whole season I was stuck with a useless (for me) Hulu subscription until the next season came out.

    • Jon Deere says:

      Or you just use bittorrent and skip all that silliness…

  27. YuShan says:

    This is great! Now that streaming and cinemas start at the same date, we can now from day one download high quality webrips! Before, you often had to put up with abysmal quality videocam torrents if you wanted to see the movie shortly after release.

    I have no interest in this Black Widow movie, but just for laughs I checked if the torrents are up already and yes good quality webrips are there.

    Btw: seriously? forking out $30 to see a movie in your own livingroom?

  28. Jon Deere says:

    Anyone who has been paying attention saw this coming. Technology advances and availability of home theater systems was beginning of the end for movie theaters. Just like the death of the drive-in theaters years ago by indoor theaters. Why would anyone want to go to a theater when they can watch it in the comfort of their own home with same or very close to same theater effects? Why deal with inevitable jerks that that are at theaters, spend gas to drive, pay for way overpriced food and tickets? At home you can control the movie at your leisure, eat better food and drink and socialize more with family and friends about the movie.

  29. Shiloh1 says:

    Buying any random 3 VHS movies at Goodwill or a garage sale are likely better entertainment for me than anything coming out today.

    • Winston says:

      Agreed. Constant movies about nothing but comic book characters shows what a dumbed down A.D.D. culture we now live in.

  30. Candyman says:

    Well…side note. Ryan Reynolds film FreeGuy comes out Aug.13 only in theaters. Filmed n Boston. A brief glimpse….My shop converted to Loan Shark store. Was fun to see the filming!

  31. c1ue says:

    It would be interesting to see if the 2 million households correspond, to what degree, with the 1%.
    There are 110 million households in the US, after all.
    Maybe it is large families – 2+ kids who would spend that much or more to go to a theater.
    Maybe it is households with $250K+ annual incomes for which $30 is like a dime.
    But VPNs don’t matter – simultaneous live streaming, on the other hand…

    • Wolf Richter says:

      That 2 million was just one weekend. People are streaming the movie every day in very large numbers. Three months from now, many millions of households will have paid that $30 to watch it. Eventually, those numbers will decline into a trickle but will continue for many years. At some point, the movie might become free for Disney+ subscribers.

  32. sunny129 says:

    Piracy, whether right or wrong, is here to stay. all over the World, among the young who are tech savy. Authorities are fighting against it over 2 decades and unable to control. It is the 21st century technology, out of Genie. Bit Torrent along with VPN has made it easy, hard to trace the IP address. It is a cat and mouse game. Those, who try to profit from it are easily caught.

    • sunny129 says:

      BTW
      My family subscribes to Nextflix and Prime Video (Amazon) and nothing else. More than enough (medocre to crap) to our family members.

  33. Miatadon says:

    I just watched several trailers of the film. Holy Christ, it’s absolute shi$. And a trailer shows some of the best scenes. I am left thinking I don’t really care if Disney gets ripped off or not. In fact, I applaud the tele-thieves. How can audiences find this to be such a great film? And why is this film so popular?

  34. K says:

    LOL. Absolutely. There were far fewer drive in theaters in my town and the girls were more suspicious of my eager offers to go to them instead of to regular movie theaters: like good policemen, they wanted to be sure I obeyed the stop signs if you get my drift.

  35. marcm says:

    Disney and all the mega corporations stole PPF money while small business (the ones paying the money) were decimated by political lockdowns.
    So no, I have no problem with Disney’s work being stolen.

  36. Michael Gorback says:

    Motley Fool recently opened yet another service, this time focused on REITs. They were pushing EPR as an “experience ” play now that we’ve been let out of our kennels.

    EPR has a lot of properties that I could see working as a re-opening play, such as TopGolf. OTOH, 50% of their properties are movie theaters. I don’t need advice like that.

    I’ve been to the movies once in the last 5 years. Netflix and Chill.

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