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So the largest theater chain in the US is saying that coronavirus might kill them. If this does happen, what do you think will happen? Is someone going to jump in and buy it? Are they going to let Disney buy it so they can just control every aspect of film? Or are we potentially watching the end of movie watching as we know it?

 

Of course Disney also requires crowds to survive. If people aren't going to their parks in droves, and people aren't maxing out theaters for the latest blockbuster, what does that mean for them?

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I don't think the studios are willing to give up the box office just yet. It's fallen off for smaller films for sure, but niche movies and franchises still do bigger and better business by having a theatrical run. It's funny how we still think as "direct to video" as a pejorative, and yet, that's how most people take in content now.

 

I don't think big theaters are going to completely fold, but I do think it's a scene that is going to change. My prediction is that chains like AMC will sell off their locations and there's going to be two types of buyers.

 

The first, as you theorize, is going to be studios. It's already a thing here in LA. Disney owns the El Capitan in Hollywood and has all their premiers there. I think that's going to definitely grow country wide. Disney branded theaters for Disney movies. I can see other studios doing it too, but Disney, which owns all the biggest franchises, will definitely be the ones who can make it work. Either way though, I think this would only account for maybe a third of movies houses around the country.

 

I think the second third are going to be picked up by smaller companies who will do niche programming. Again, in LA, we have the New Beverly, which Tarrantino co-owns and does all sorts of revival programming. There's The Egyptian which does a lot of classic movies. I think we're going to see some independent places like that pop up around the country, or smaller niche chains like The Drafthouse or Arclight that try to make seeing a movie more of an experience or event. Whether it's niche programming, or an experience (like fancy chairs with gourmet food), I think smaller groups will scoop up these theaters and make use of them.

 

The final third of theaters are just going to die and house Spirit Halloween stores in the fall and be derelicts otherwise.

 

We've sort of been on this track for awhile as TVs get bigger and more affordable and streaming content becomes more readily available and higher quality. I mean-- I am a MOVIE GUY. I work in the damn industry. I am proud one of my movies got a legit theatrical run-- but even still... man do I hate going to the movies. People are the worst. I really only go for things meant to be seen as big as possible. And even then, I go midday on a Tuesday to limit the amount of people smacking popcorn, talking, or looking at their phones.

 

As I said up top, as of a few months ago, the theatrical takes on movies like TROS or Endgame still justified the model... but now with a pandemic... it remains to be seen.

 

AMC and Regal were more or less about to boycott Universal for offering up new movies for streaming at the same time s them being in theaters. So what now? I haven't numbers on the round of premium priced films that were offered up recently, but those would be very telling for the future.

 

Because even if the bankrupted theaters are scooped by studios or smaller chains, will people even WANT to go? I saw a pic the other day of a social-distance designed theater with rows taken out between seats. That won't work. One, everyone will still bunch up at the exit after the movie, and two, if a theater can't fill itself up, they aren't making money.

 

Well-- the studios aren't. One big key factor is that studios tend to take most of the box office. The theater chains make most of their money off of a very small cut of ticket prices, but take 100% of concessions. If you can only put a few people in a theater you're not making that popcorn money.

 

So at the end of the day, if a studio really is only concerned with making money (which IS all they are concerned with) they will toss out some premium priced streaming movies and not bother with theaters. That's what we've come down to-- when neither the studios OR the theaters themselves can make money off people squeezing into a theater, neither will bother to try.

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It'll be interesting to see if those changes also create more room for smaller films. IIRC Trolls 2 did better than the first, even though it was a digital release. BUT that release was during a pandemic where people didn't have anything else to do. Plus that probably kills some of the later home purchases. Not necessarily a great long-term plan.

 

Drive-ins, the few that remain, are doing well right now. I wish my kids were old enough to go or we could do a babysitter and go, although it's too late at night for me.

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Posted (edited)

So the largest theater chain in the US is saying that coronavirus might kill them. If this does happen, what do you think will happen?

 

I am not a swami. I can not predict the future!!!!111!!!

 

Is someone going to jump in and buy it?

 

Who????? The Metropolous Bros.? Bobby Axelrod from Showtime Networks Inc., a ViacomCBS Company's Billions?? The living popcorn kernels from the commercials they show in theatres before the movie starts up here!???

 

Are they going to let Disney buy it so they can just control every aspect of film?

 

I am not a lawyer!!!!11! But is that not against the law? ARE THERE EVEN GOING TO BE LAWS IN THE FUTURE!!!!!?????

 

Or are we potentially watching the end of movie watching as we know it?

 

SIGNS POINT TO YES!!!!

 

Of course Disney also requires crowds to survive. If people aren't going to their parks in droves, and people aren't maxing out theaters for the latest blockbuster, what does that mean for them?

 

I think the answer to this question can perhaps be found within the pages of Seaguy & Seaguy : Slaves of Mickey Eye. Comic books written and drawn by Grant Morrison & Cameron Stewart!!

Edited by R.CAllen
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Actually at one point it was illegal for studios to own theater chains. That was part of the old studio system the government dismantled. Antitrust laws are a joke though these days.

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Actually at one point it was illegal for studios to own theater chains. That was part of the old studio system the government dismantled. Antitrust laws are a joke though these days.

As long as they dont insult Trump.

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So the largest theater chain in the US is saying that coronavirus might kill them. If this does happen, what do you think will happen? Is someone going to jump in and buy it? Are they going to let Disney buy it so they can just control every aspect of film? Or are we potentially watching the end of movie watching as we know it?

 

Of course Disney also requires crowds to survive. If people aren't going to their parks in droves, and people aren't maxing out theaters for the latest blockbuster, what does that mean for them?

Not sure how true this is, but a few weeks ago, I heard Amazon was rumored to be a potential buyer for AMC.

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I really hope not. If thats the case, can I donate to help Disney do it?

Yeah personally, I have a problem with it too. At the same time, I hope Disney doesn't buy AMC. I hope if AMC is sold, it is not to either a studio, or a mega corp like Amazon, or even streaming cooperation like Netflix.

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Yeah, its all bad and I hope it doesnt happen. Ideally theyll just survive. But of the options, Amazon is the worst. I really dont want Bezos to be a trillionaire

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Yeah, its all bad and I hope it doesnt happen. Ideally theyll just survive. But of the options, Amazon is the worst. I really dont want Bezos to be a trillionaire

I hope AMC weathers the storm, too. I think that while the quarantine was necessary, I think the government has a responsibility to the businesses that suffered from the result of the quarantine. This required the temporary, and consensual, suspension of individual and corporate liberties for the greater good, but also demands compensation from the federal government. I'm not talking about across the board corporate welfare, but businesses like theaters are a cultural staple. I believe there is a certain level of entertainment that is VITAL to us as a society, that keeps us as individuals mentally healthy. Even if it is simply a matter of low interest loans backed by the government, and granting a reasonable time for forbearance (determined legally). I think that is the least the feds can do to help maintain the entertainment industry.

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I tend to agree, but even if the government helps get them propped up to make up for what they lost in the quarantine months, there are a lot of questions about whether audiences are willing to go back in large enough numbers. AMC could reopen, but they dont have new movies to show and theyre not going to make much money showing Beetlejuice. Not enough to warrant a multiplex showing old movies.

 

Drive-ins can manage it because the overhead is lower and people have nostalgia for them so they can bank on that.

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I tend to agree, but even if the government helps get them propped up to make up for what they lost in the quarantine months, there are a lot of questions about whether audiences are willing to go back in large enough numbers. AMC could reopen, but they dont have new movies to show and theyre not going to make much money showing Beetlejuice. Not enough to warrant a multiplex showing old movies.

 

Drive-ins can manage it because the overhead is lower and people have nostalgia for them so they can bank on that.

Yeah, I think for the foreseeable future, theaters will still be suffering and will have to try to figure out how to navigate in a post-COVID environment. That is not to say people shouldn't be compensated by the government for lost wages, before corporations. Not to get political, but I think the government shares a certain amount of responsibility for not getting a handle on this crisis before it got out of control and forced to shut businesses down, so I think it is only fair that the government help out in some way.

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I think that the feds need to help the states, then people, then businesses. States are having to cut important services because they cant run at a deficit. Schools are being told to prepare for completely new ways of doing things, but getting less money. Its not sustainable.

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If there were a line for things that will get public money to help them through this movie theaters would have to be the very, very end of the line.

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Why? We already pretty much gave the cruise industry a bailout, and theyre not even American companies. (Definitely gave Carnival one via buying bonds that no one else would buy)

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Why? We already pretty much gave the cruise industry a bailout, and theyre not even American companies. (Definitely gave Carnival one via buying bonds that no one else would buy)

So you are saying we should compound one mistake with another?

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I think that, all in all, businesses should be at the end of the line. If we take care of state and local governments and individuals, theres probably not going to be much for businesses. But youre looking at a US-based industry killed by government action, so it needs to be considered.

 

And there are methods that dont involve direct payments, or it could include loans.

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If money is given to individuals through stimulus type payments or tax cuts then the people can spend that money how they want and the businesses they choose to spend it at will survive.

 

I think with theaters, they were coming close to some sort of huge change in how they do business. Personally I haven't been to a movie theater to see a non Star Wars movie since before TFA came out. So like one movie a year for me. Thats true of alot of people. Theaters now exist for those 10-15 movies a year that make alot of money. Maybe fewer movies than that.

 

If theater chains are going to get public money I think they'd need to demonstrate a plan for them to be viable long term before getting that money. I mean if they get "bailed out" now but in 2 years they are all out of business anyway because people are just waiting to watch the movies at home then whats the point of bailing them out?

 

That goes for really any business. It doesn;t make sense to give money to industries that were "doomed" anyway and the virus just moved ahead the time line.

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Does it really matter if they only exist for a few movies that make a lot of money? Overall, box office is going up. Does it matter if theyre showing Avengers Endgame on 5 screens instead of 5 different movies, if Endgame is making more money than those other 5 movies combined?

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Box office is up because of increased ticket prices and 3D. Ticket sales have been going down for almost 20 years and I think the trend will continue. Plus yes it matters if it's only a few movies if the argument is that the entertainment provided by theaters is "vital" as Zathras said. Those huge movies don't make all that money because everyone is going ot see them, they make that much money because some people are seeing those movies again and again. I think it's hard to argue it's vital that teenagers can be dropped off to see a Marvel movie every weekend for a month.

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Thats great. My argument is that the government picked winners and losers. Jeff Bezos made billions, while other companies are dying. I agree that it was necessary, but that doesnt just mean we should say they deserve to die. I mean, you could make the same argument about people. If youre living paycheck to paycheck and not saving enough to care for yourself in an economic downturn, why should the government take care of you?

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Thats great. My argument is that the government picked winners and losers. Jeff Bezos made billions, while other companies are dying. I agree that it was necessary, but that doesnt just mean we should say they deserve to die. I mean, you could make the same argument about people. If youre living paycheck to paycheck and not saving enough to care for yourself in an economic downturn, why should the government take care of you?

Well I mean Bezos had a company that was basically pandemic proof and if anything benefited from the pandemic as people were unable to go out and shop at his brick and mortar competitors.

 

Companies are not people, there is a difference between bailing out an industry and giving people money to keep from starving. Im just not sure theaters are a good candidate to receive much from public money. I mean the reason to bail out a company is because they are either completely essential, a good investment going forward meaning that by bailing them out that long term theyd put enough back into economies through taxes and other means that it would be worth it or they provide good jobs. Obviously they aren't completely essential, you cant argue they are. Secondly with the emergence of better home viewing and more formerly first run movies potentially going straight to streaming services Im not sure they are good long term investment. And lastly most jobs at theaters are not good jobs. So I just don't think that movie theaters are a great choice for getting all that much help from the government.

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I think that the feds need to help the states, then people, then businesses. States are having to cut important services because they cant run at a deficit. Schools are being told to prepare for completely new ways of doing things, but getting less money. Its not sustainable.

Agreed. I would never argue companies before people. Though, if I were to prioritize, I would say people, then states, then businesses. Otherwise I agree. All I am saying, specific to AMC, is that they deserve some kind of help. Interest free loans guaranteed by the government, so long as AMC puts their properties up for collateral seems fair to me. But yeah, people and state/federal programs that benefit people (especially schools), should have priority.

The reason I support AMC assistance is that there are many people employed by theaters. Not just directly at the theater itself, but the film industry employs a lot of people...writers, actors, sure, but a lot of behind the scenes stuff as well. Most of the behind the scenes stuff is done by people who are solidly middle class. Without theaters, movies are not sustainable, or at least at the level of income to support those behind creating movies.

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