MCN Commentary & Analysis

“Are We There Yet?”

Today, we are two-and-half months from the first death from COVID-19 in Wuhan. And things are beginning to start up again in Wuhan and across China.

The first death in America from this virus was on February 29, in Washington state. California: March 4. New York: March 14.

The arc will vary, but two-and-half months means May 15 – June 1 and, one hopes, the first sense of normalcy should return to these hot spots. Another month of finding our feet, and July 1 seems like a reasonable guess at when we can go to a restaurant and maybe see a movie in a theater.

Thing is, America is a big country. And most of the country is just getting their invitations to this horrible, horrible party. Easter is 18 days away and the rotten eggs won’t take that long to be found. Easter seems to be a likeley target date to expect the first deaths in much of the country and for the U.S. toll to blow past the 5,000 mark. (We will be lucky if it’s that low in 18 days… it could easily be double that if New York or L.A. or San Francisco hospitals are overwhelmed.)

That would put much of the country at a July 1 first break date and an August 1 start of relative normalcy.

In the meanwhile, anything that speeds up the process, from any part of the globe, is incredibly welcome. Anything the preening peacock Donald Trump does that helps… incredibly welcome. I am relatively safe and comfortable. But people are dying. People sick with other things will not get the attention they need. Women are giving birth alone in hospitals, scared to death that, no matter how careful, they or their child will be infected. Businesses are closing. Employees who can’t afford to pay for home delivery and tip others are anxious and already eating less than they should. Schools are working to stay connected to the kids, but it is hard. Rents and mortgages are due for many in less than a week as the last paychecks to be expected for a while go out almost as quickly as they come in.

But what about show business?

Even the Chicken Littles are tired. After all, how many times can the sky fall in a month?

Early VOD efforts at increased pricing—$20 for a rental—started last Friday and the fantasy that this could be the New Normal seems dead after just one weekend. (Sky Up!) A lot more on this later in the column.

Exhibition pled its case to Congress to get a carve-out in the $2 trillion stimulus. (They appear to have succeeded.) The dynamic of the future of theater owners is somewhat different now than it might have been 30 years ago with all the consolidation. But no one really wants to see a large percentage of theaters go under, including the landlords and loaning banks. Like so much of the business world, the balance is delicate and not all on the side of the people who have the power to say, “no.” If they say “no” too much, then the people they answer to start saying “no” as well.

The ongoing flaw in the Death of Theatrical argument is that millions love going out to the movies. And those people spend more per person than movies can generate in any other delivery system.


I often wonder whether media has come to deny this $30+ billion in annual revenue as significant because we, in the media, have become so obsessed with clicks that we now value quantity over quality almost exclusively. If it was argued through, copper would be better than gold, rhinestones better than diamonds, and endlessly rewritten content from the rare journalists who actually do the legwork would be valued over… well… journalism.

The television and streaming business will start having trouble come the fall, not so much this summer. That is when content flow will dry up. As others noted, there is an opportunity to clear out the crap. But expect a fresh wave of game-show reboots and reality shows to have an oversized footprint in September through Thanksgiving, maybe until 2021.

The biggest question in the industry right now is whether HBO Max and Peacock will launch in the midst of this. Theoretically, they can move forward. But like a show about to open on Broadway, there is a lot of shaking down to do once you get into the theater and start selling tickets.

Under these very unique circumstances, both HBO Max and Peacock should launch for free for everyone for their first three months. Simple as that. Limit content to some degree. Don’t launch originals, or instead launch very selectively. But open the gates. No credit card. No period leading to the moment you get charged for a month and forever more. No games. If you can get the app, you can get the content. Just sign up and watch. Until America is feeling like America again and you have created goodwill with 50 million households.

And when the three months is over—say August 1—offer an aarray of ways to join. Meanwhile, they would have harvested a load of intel about who watches what and why they love or don’t love the service.

Thing is, no one wants another hand in their pocket as the well threatens to run dry. The first 10 million customers won’t care. They are still paying for AOL dial-up every month and have no idea. But the next 50 million are paying a lot of attention. Some are cord-cutters. Some are not. But there is one thing that makes everyone happy… free.

What’s scary about this strategy is that Amazon has over 100 million Prime members in America and fewer than 20% use Prime Video, which one of the subscription’s benefits. But both Peacock and HBO Max have more marketable bait than Amazon Prime, even with “Maisel” and “Hunters” and “Boys.”

But we are all locked down with the TV. Something fresh, even if it’s only a well-remembered library, wlll be embraced. Especially for free.

The company with the most to benefit is, yes, Netflix. People aren’t going to cancel their subs, even if finding something you want to watch after spending 40 hours on the app in a recent week will get harder and harder. But better, this is a way for Netflix to not spend a couple billion on production without anyone pointing fingers. And that is the smartest thing the company could do right now. If anyone is in line for a budget haircut, it’s Netflix. This is great cover.

Another potential winner in this situation is… taa-dah… industry unions. The pressure on WGA to figure it all out is off the table, as no one is allowed to sit any anyone else’s table. The SAG/AFTRA contact comes up on June 30. This is the perfect opportunity for the two unions that have a desperate need to re-set the storyline with The Man to sync things up. Of course, the industry-friendly SAG leadership team would have to be willing to get into the fight in a real way. And while the opportunity to make that happen is kind of thrilling, the likelihood of the SAG majority showing any grit on this is kind of depressing.

Over at The Academy, I expect that Dawn Hudson, bolstered by a new contract through at least May 2023, as well as a raise in the face of many failures, will remain reactive instead of proactive and screw things up even further.

Oh, it’s going to be a sick-making day when the HPFA takes a step ahead of AMPAS in the legitimacy of its methods and practices. But all this ruckus about significant changes in the face of Coronavirus goes right up there with the “Popular Oscar.” Why does The Academy Board of Governors insist on appearing to be a bunch of out-of-touch old people who are so desperate for their grandkids to watch the show that they are willing to pay them for their attention?

These are really smart, savvy people. The only rule that should remotely be considered is a one-year abeyance of the rule about screening before being shown on post-theatrical media before qualifying theatrically. And that variation should end six weeks after theaters open up widely again.

As for the 2021 show, I suggest that they spend the next two months begging certain people to produce. (But they spent six months this year begging certain people to produce to no avail.) The problem is growing because it used to just be a time suck. Now. having your name on the show makes you a target. I believe that serious discussions about how to change the whole process should happen, and not just stunts to get someone through their next CEO contract.

The studios have other things to worry about beyond their movies. Disney has a giant problem with Parks. That is their Achilles heel. Big time. Comcast and AT&T have to protect their cable and satellite businesses… although I believe people are change-averse in moments of extreme tension. Paramount and Sony are in wheel-spinning mode, as they too often have been this last few years.

There will be another side to this. Human nature will not be transformed. Selling people stuff isn’t going to become a unique new effort.

But lockdown is a weird sensation. I was traveling a lot around 9/11. Domestic and international. And it is nothing compared to this. There were fears and odd looks and limited availability of lots of things. The feeling after 9/11 will be more like the fear next fall about a recurring wave, still pre-cure. But this… months shut in… good and bad… messes with the mind. About this, the president/fool is correct. But his response to it is childlike and not adult, much less like a leader.

We aren’t close. But let’s not throw people out of the boat now for fear of running out of food next week. We’ll get there. As. my mother used to say, “It’s an experience!”

And now… a more detailed analysis of this past weekend on the VOD side.

We don’t know the actual numbers behind the iTunes or Fandango Top Ten lists. Suffice it to say that the gross numbers are less than you are led to believe. Perspective is offered in that The Gentlemen, The Fittest, and Dolittle are all in the top 8 on iTunes.

But even in the broader picture, here is the point… the only $20 to rent only title to make the Top 10 was… nothing. The Invisible Man (a terrific film, see it!) was the highest ranking film at #13. None of the other $20 to rent titles made the Top 20. And that #13 showing was with the film coming in as the #1 and #2 box office movie in weeks past and as the most headlined title in media story after media story after media story.

I don’t know if Universal will be shy about it, but the financially sound choice would be to flip it over to $20 to buy and $6 to rent this Friday. I would even consider converting the rental buyers from last week to owners. Because this experiment just didn’t work. Disappointment all around, but in the big picture, it would be have the best financial upside for the studio. (I would also plan for a funky theatrical re-release on 200- 500 screens when things open up again… “See the movie that Coronavirus didn’t want you to see with an audience!”)

What was working on iTunes last weekend? $20 to buy. Nothing too unusual. Onward was #1, sale only, coming out early, though 1917, which has been out for sale only for 2 weeks, added rental on Tuesday (3/24) and pushed past Onward immediately. Birds of Prey is the current #3, coming to digital early, offering a $20 sale price only (rental on April 7, delayed from March 24, according to Vulture). #4 is Bloodshot, sale only, no rental until June. Closing out the Top 5 is The Gentlemen, which set a lower sale price at $15 with no rental until April 14.

I’m not suggesting there were not benefits to opening early for these films. But most of those benefits can be attributed to the theatrical marketing campaigns that had either been going for a while or were in the heat of pre-release. But the goal is not to be #1 on iTunes… the goal is to make the most money with your product. (My chop-up of the iTunes Top 20 is at the bottom of this piece.)

Warner Bros. has one of the experimentally dated releases now in digital, The Way Back. It’s #10. $20 for sale. Rental scheduled for May. It’s one of those titles that was not ever going to be a theatrical high flyer, unless it was an awards title, which the studio chose against months ago. I don’t know if the film sold 50,000 units ($1m) or 100,000 or 250,000. But I can read the tea leaves and estimate that it didn’t do much more in digital than it would have in the normal window model.

Whatever my tea leaves say, after one weekend of that experiment, the question of whether Wonder Woman 1984 would try to go direct-to-streaming was answered. “NO!”

I welcome the April 10 release of Trolls World Tour direct-to-digital, in some part because I expect it to confirm the flaw in the thinking in another segment of this discussion. If I were advising Universal for money, I would be begging them to take the one win that is really left for this movie, which is to become a hero to movie exhibitors and kill the digital release. I don’t think they need to be responding to threats by the National Association of Theater Owners. The movie was borderline before, is borderline now, and it will be borderline if they delay and wait for a theatrical release. But they have a chance to really change the story and make the future for theatrical – which they are dependent on – a bit brighter.

That leaves the third tier of day-n-date waiting for a brave sucke… uh, soul to try it out. A big, wide release movie going straight to paid streaming. And for everyone trying to make this a one-size-fits-all, Paramount selling off a movie they didn’t know how to market to Netflix. That ain’t a paradigm shift. That’s as old as the hills. (Anyone want to discuss Slumdog Millionaire?)

It will make my friends in exhibition crazy, but BRING IT ON!!! How I want to be in those numbers, when day-n-date comes marching in!

It used to be the thing that was going to far to compare someone to Hitler. And now, as he prepares to smother thousands of New Yorkers in their hospital beds, calling someone “Trump-like” is a nasty thing. But man, the people who really, really, really want to be right about The Future are very Trumplike. No matter how the facts are stacked and restacked in front of them, they insist that things must change because… well, people have been making these arguments for decades.

You know what? If the world is really ending, great. Let’s all go Wall-E and survive as best we can.

Here is a rundown of the value proposition amongst todays iTunes Top 20 today (3/26):

$20 to buy
Birds of Prey
The Way Back
Star Wars 9
$20 to buy, $6 to rent
Jumanji 2
Knives Out
Just Mercy
Spies in Disguise
Ford v Ferrari
$20 to rent
The Invisible Man

$15 to buy
The Gentlemen
$15 to buy, $6 to rent
Uncut Gems
$13 to buy, $5 to rent
The Fittest
$10 to buy, $6 to rent
$10 to buy, $4 to rent
Charlie’s Angels

64 Responses to ““Are We There Yet?””

  1. Stella's Boy says:

    July 1 or August 1 back to normal? Yeah sorry that’s not going to happen. Not with Trump in charge. Not with him getting bored and deciding that America will open again by Easter. If we had better federal leadership and if everyone actually practiced social distancing, then maybe it happens in summer. But with the way things are going, and with the worst of it still in the future and with the Trump ready to send people back to work in two weeks, I don’t see any scenario in which people are flocking to the movies in three or four months. No way.

  2. Bob Burns says:

    The Chinese are succeeding. The US is failing. The epidemic in the US will dwarf the epidemic in China in raw numbers….. and, on a per capita basis it is already many times worse. BTW, the Chinese have already tested Trump’s fake drug, the one that treats malaria. It has no effect on coronavirus. Absent an actual working treatment, American movie theaters will be death traps this summer. And many people will have had a direct encounter with death and near death by then.

    Theatrical is driven by billions of dollars in promotion, paid and free. It will come back strong and healthy. They know how to turn out an audience. And the studios will turn on the publicity machines before they should, under the cover of political permission. They will have blood on their hands and will not care.

  3. Stella's Boy says:

    Will they risk putting blockbusters back in theaters if they suspect large numbers of people will stay home because this country doesn’t have its shit together and hasn’t gotten things under control? I agree with what you’re saying and they definitely have political cover, but how confident do they need to be in the audience actuallly showing up?

  4. Bradley Laing says:

    Was I the first person to suggest theater closures on this website?

    Back on March 2.

  5. David Poland says:

    Stella… you’re quoting THR as a thoughtful outlet on the subject?

    The piece isn’t absurd… but the tone and headline are.

    This is the end of nothing, which unfortunately includes hysterical journalists posting pictures of empty spaces like it means anything.

  6. Stella's Boy says:

    David, the story does not argue that this is the end of theaters. I see no one making that argument but for some reason that’s how you keep framing this. You’re sort of the old man yelling at the cloud on this one and a bit hysterical yourself.

  7. Stella's Boy says:

    Nor did I say that story is gospel. I’m just interested in pieces that speculate on where we’re going from here. Not suggesting this is the end of movie theaters just as that story doesn’t make that claim.

  8. Bob Burns says:

    A good friend of mine is a scientist with the Centers for Disease Control. I mentioned this column to him, and he laughed at the idea we would have open movie theaters this summer. He expects the number of new cases a day will peak in July…. and that the rate of decline in new cases will be slower than the increase. In other words we will have many more cases after July than before. In July we won’t even be half way there….

    If the US implements mass testing, hundreds of thousands of public health workers standing outside entrances to stores and office buildings with electronic thermometers, empowered to segregate people with fevers…. everybody wearing masks….. then we can compare ourselves and our timelines with China and South Korea.

    Vaccines normally take 5 to 15 years to develop. HIV, a virus, still does not have a vaccine. Fauci’s year-and-a-half timeline for a vaccine is wildly optimistic. The scientists who deliver a vaccine in 18 months will deserve a ticker-tape parade.

    I think we will lose this year in theatrical. NFL, too. So what? Theatrical will come back strong, maybe bigger than ever, when the time comes. I imagine that new project investors of all kinds, will see theatrical as riskier than they had imagined just a few weeks ago.

  9. David Poland says:

    Perhaps true, Bob.

    But of course, if all that happens, what we come back to may be significantly more complicated. The economics of the real estate becomes open to a lot of whims at that point. Sports, I am not worried about. But an 18 month closed shop could cause – should cause – a serious reconsideration of exhibition. There will always be movie theaters. There’s too much money for the distributors. But 18 months is a long time to consider what will look great on the other side.

  10. David Poland says:

    ” Though the shifts were a response to a singular catastrophe, this change may reverberate long after the crisis has passed, as consumers, who can now watch fresh-from-the-theaters releases like Disney’s Onward, Sony’s Bloodshot and Warner Bros.’ The Way Back at home, may come to expect such convenience.”

  11. Stella's Boy says:

    Makes sense to me that there would be speculation about how successful premium VOD would be and what would happen if it took off and proved to be appealing to large numbers of people. Wondering what the future holds after a major change like this is totally logical. That’s a far cry from claiming that premium VOD means movie theaters will cease to exist. And I agree predicting something 18 months out is impossible.

  12. cadavra says:

    I picked up the Blu-Ray of KNIVES OUT for $13–and it’s loaded with extras. Some of us still believe in physical media.

  13. Amblinman says:

    “The ongoing flaw in the Death of Theatrical argument is that millions love going out to the movies. And those people spend more per person than movies can generate in any other delivery system.


    “People love tiny keyboards. It’s why Blackberry isn’t concerned about Apple’s new smartphone. Period.”

    -Every RIM exec circa 2007

  14. Bob Burns says:

    I believe we will have a treatment a lot sooner than a vaccine…. hoping one that will substantially reduce mortality. We will see emergency conditions at hospitals, and lots of new Covid hospitals long before we have a treatment. I know for sure I don’t want the shit, even if there are enough ventilators and hospital beds. I only say this to say that I am not going to a movie theater until there is a pretty good pill, and my guess is that it will be the end of the year, at least, before one is identified. I really hope I am wrong.

    One thing has changed for me regarding theatrical. It seems pretty dumb, now, at my age, to be going to a movie theater during flu season, Covid or not. I have never thought of a movie theater as a germ trap previously. I do now, and I don’t think that will change. I have never been a germaphobe at all, previously.

    I am an architect. I expect to see new codes for public spaces that directly address cleanable surfaces and designs that are easier to disinfect, or, at least not impossible to disinfect, like our movie theaters, which are really cheap buildings currently.

  15. Bradley Laing says:

    —Could you do a series of columns called “Do Not Shoot the Messenger”? To save Patrick, below, from being blamed?

    China Shuts Down All Cinemas, Again6:11 AM PDT 3/27/2020 by Patrick Brzesk

    . No reason for the policy reversal was given, but insiders believe the government is worried about a potential second wave of coronavirus infections.
    China’s film regulators has slammed the brakes on plans to gradually reopen the country’s cinemas.

    Over 600 movie theaters across China were given the green light to reopen their doors over the past week, but Beijing’s Film Bureau put out a notice late Friday ordering all theaters to go back into shutdown

  16. Hcat says:

    Thank god they are showing some caution, as soon as another country is “open for business’ and we are still hunkered down you will see a mushroom cloud sized tantrum coming from 1600, no matter how farther along the curve they are.

  17. Amblinman says:

    “Over 600 movie theaters across China were given the green light to reopen their doors over the past week, but Beijing’s Film Bureau put out a notice late Friday ordering all theaters to go back into shutdown“


    (I’m not trolling, Dave. Sincerely. I just cannot understand the Trumpian head in the sand-ism on display here. My position: this virus, and our own handling of this virus, will effectively kill theatrical in this county for 12-18 (at least). So what are studios gonna do? Entertain the scenario, which is not a troll nor a leap. Tell me how studios recoup costs on giant movies that are just sitting there with no promise of a theatrical release date on the horizon)

  18. leahnz says:

    thinking cinemas in the US will be open for the summer is straight-up delusional at this point, it’s like a brain fog has set in
    (and for the love of kittens learn about/to recognize the dark triad of malignant narcissism: Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism. seems like a fair few of you still don’t get what you’re dealing with. what’s it gonna take? i mean clearly some of you do get it but yikes, it’s like a badly-written horror movie that won’t stop. with the mainstream US media’s abject failure – this time on an apocalyptic level, not even hyperbole – acting essentially as dumb corleone’s propaganda arm now airing his unending parade of lies and delusions and spineless fawning lickspittles with little push-back re the reality of what this faux admin is actually doing, facts and science. utterly craven in the face of unprecedented lies and corruption that will lead to mass suffering, death and social destruction. it’s like watching a most evil version of ‘charlie brown and the football’. please seek alternative credible sources of factual information and listen to the experts on authoritarianism/fascism who are speaking out. what is happening to your country is MALICIOUS; ‘incompetence’ is a veneer, the distraction. they know exactly what they’re doing. they are sadists. THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU, only $$$ for those who don’t need it. christ watching this from quarantine is surreal and unbelievably horrifying. strange days)

  19. Serg says:

    Bailout is pathetic. They just sold out anyone under 30 who thought they may grow into a world a little more fair than older millennials, a gigantic wealth transfer to the oligarchy and the plutocracy in the guise of “helping in a pandemic.”

    This is NOT a mere half trillion to corporate America as its being reported. It is TRILLIONS more, in the form of QE measures, interest free fed funds for major banks to profit off of much needed credit for those less asset rich businesses and individuals, “liquidity in the market”, all these bullshit obscure finance terms used to hide their stealing the American dream and hopes for a better future for tens if not hundreds of millions of us.

    I know there is so much at stake and up in the air about the way the economy and society in general will look after a shock like this, but let’s have some perspective. This is a dark, dark day in the history of this nation if you’re someone who believes in creating a more equitable and fair country that works for all of us.

  20. Ray Pride says:

    Mnuchin specialized in wet work like this even as a foreclosure specialist.

    Even in how he got out of the film production business.

  21. Bob Burns says:

    I agree with Amblinman’s assertions and question, quoted below:

    “(I’m not trolling, Dave. Sincerely. I just cannot understand the Trumpian head in the sand-ism on display here. My position: this virus, and our own handling of this virus, will effectively kill theatrical in this county for 12-18 (at least). So what are studios gonna do? Entertain the scenario, which is not a troll nor a leap. Tell me how studios recoup costs on giant movies that are just sitting there with no promise of a theatrical release date on the horizon)”

    Today a 5 minute test was approved by the FDA. Now a story. Recently there was an HIV outbreak among out of work miners in West Virginia. Their pubic health department did not have the capacity to do the contact tracing for this single disease cluster, and contact tracing for HIV is much less involved than contact tracing for a highly communicable disease like covid. Here in Alabama about 500 cases presented over the last ten days. Over the next ten days several thousand new cases will be reported in Alabama. Our public health departments do not have the capacity to perform contact tracing on 500 cases, much less 5000. Absent a vaccine, we are not going to beat back the virus without mass testing and contact tracing, and it will take months for health departments to develop that capacity. We will need thousands of new public health workers in Alabama alone. They have to be hired and trained, assuming money is forthcoming. That is how China and South Korea beat back the epidemic, mass testing and contact tracing.

    so, that being the case, possibly, probably, a lost year and it could be more. Watch New York. See what they do.

  22. leahnz says:

    i think including the practice of the mass-wearing of proper protective masks while in public (which protects the wearer to a degree from inhaling the pathogen, but is quite effective at its intended purpose: preventing the wearer from spreading the contagion via particulates in lung vapour caught by the mask before it can disperse – even lower-rated masks than n95 have proven somewhat effective) is an important factor in discussing the mass testing/contract tracing/isolation strategy.

    many populous asian countries have employed this third-prong defense measure in flattening their curve, as mass wearing of masks undeniably helps curb community transmission – particularly by young people more likely to be asymptomatic carriers and those who may be unknowingly incubating the disease before symptoms appear — though it’s gotten bizarrely little media coverage. i’ve assumed this is because the gross shortage of masks in the west (due to lack of preparedness?) needed most desperately by healthcare workers before the genpop makes the strategy untenable at this point; but advocating for mass testing/contact tracing strategy without the added measure of mass-mask wearing to curb community transmission seems like it’s missing the mark a bit. even with lockdown measures in place all ‘essential workers’ should be wearing masks in addition to gloves to curb transmission.

  23. Amblinman says:

    I needed to grab staples the other morning.I got to Safeway, and there was a line to get in.

    It dawned on me: I’m standing in line for bread.

    Remember that the next time a conservative starts babbling about Venezuela and American exceptionalism.

  24. Pete B. says:

    Except Venezuela didn’t need a worldwide pandemic.

  25. Stella's Boy says:

    Capitalism is so great it only needs socialism to bail it out once every decade or so. Pete’s like nothing to see here trump says everything is fine and I believe him.

  26. Pete B. says:

    Stella, you make me laugh.
    As a smarter person than you or I said, “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

  27. leahnz says:

    er well there you go, that sums it up – thinking thatcher policy was ‘smart’. explains a lot. me glorious me, me me me me me me. MY money and me, the playing field’s even for MEEEEE. me me me me me, fuck everyone else, me me meeeeee (did i mention the prime directive: ‘me’? MINE! me)

    oh stellas silly billy, banana republicans are just fine with socialism when it’s benefiting large corporations and the wealthy [exhibit p: this most recent slush fund overseen by shitler and his crime cabal, what could go wrong] but when it’s to help nurses and stuff THE COMMIES ARE COMING!!! also just fine with fascism, too, funny that; wrapped in a flag with a bible as predicted. the banality of evil

  28. Stella's Boy says:

    Yeah Republicans are reminding us of who they are. All they worship is money. That’s their real god. Years of that ACA death panels bullshit and now they eagerly advocate for killing grandma to save the economy. And as you say it’s never socialism if it helps corporations and the wealthy but it always is if it helps the poor and people of color. It’s all so fucking vile.

  29. Bradley Laing says:

    —Assuming different film industries world wide shut down at different times, does that mean that you can guess, now, which films from which country will hit the world market? When they come back, I mean. I know I read that when the UK had a writers strike, the UK companies started picking up episodes of US made series that normally, they would have rejected. I am thinking that “theatrical movies” will not be replaced by streaming. Instead there will be a bigger audience for other countries movies, in multiple world movie houses.

    Or do the commentators think I am wrong?

  30. Bradley Laing says:

    —For Stella’s Boy:

    —At the end of “Dispicable Me,” it said that French tax payer dollars had gone to pay for that films animation. And their making fun of American Tourists at the pyramids was really funny, presumably because everyone agreed that American Tourists can be funny. So the French animators got paid on the clock to deliver a funny send up of Americans? And the movie made back the money for the French government guys who approved of the spending, to begin with?

  31. leahnz says:

    well i don’t know i’m about convinced earth’s slipped into some other dimension (cue R serling and the twiliZ three-tone tune), like the event horizon… future astronauts will find the planet drifting at the edge of the universe in a millennia; hey what’s this rogue planet here? the earth…why that went missing circa 2016! and here it is, floating at the edge of nowhere… what madness awaits

    (crickey i didn’t even realise earlier that in february dumb corleone sent a mass shipment of the US’ strategic preserves of PPE and ventilators to China well after being briefed the virus would hit america. boy somethings reeks to high heaven)

  32. Bradley Laing says:

    for leahnz:

    —Find the addresses of the Chinese Hospitals that used those supplies, and ask them to send a hand written post card from each patient saved by the equipment with an apology for being alive, to you.

  33. Stella's Boy says:

    No one should ever put that much thought into Despicable Me.

  34. Amblinman says:

    “Except Venezuela didn’t need a worldwide pandemic”

    Correct. They got there due to years in corruption. All it took for the Greatest Economy Ever to fail was exactly a few days of shelter in place orders. Empty shelves everywhere. Nurses and doctors using trash bags as protection.

    And over 3m people lost healthcare last week when they lost their jobs. We will of course have to pay for their care regardless.

    Capitalism is an unmitigated failure on its own terms. In terms of governing a populace it’s virtually a form of genocide at this point.

  35. leahnz says:

    BRADLEY did you fall on yer head.
    my comment wasn’t to insinuate the chinese people didn’t deserve proper medical care
    (hold up you think mikey ‘the rapture’ pompeo doing shitler’s bidding and sending 18tons of US org’s PPE strategic stockpile – and then when time came to restock the strategic supply shitler slashed the budget to practically nothing so it wasn’t replenished in the face of a pandemic they were warned about ad nauseam since Jan 2020, one of those times being 2 days before sending out your saftety stockpile – was out of the goodness of their hearts because they’re lambs of charity and care about the health of the chinese people infected with that “CHINESE VIRUS”?)
    hahahahahaha y’all are fucking crazy, that’s your problem right there, a solid quarter of you

  36. movieman says:

    What will occupy multiplex screens when they finally re-open?
    It’s unlikely that 10 studio movies will burst out of the gate simultaneously.
    Even with the common practice of playing movies on multiple screens, that still leaves a lot of auditoriums (especially in the larger ‘plexes with 16+ screens) with nothing to play.
    Are they going to bring back product from early in the year even though they’ve been streaming and/or released on DVD/Blu-Ray?
    Or will they relaunch gradually, leaving half (or more) of their screens dark until release patterns normalize?

  37. Mostly Lurking says:

    My initial thought is that even when theaters reopen, it will be with certain capacity limits in place so they’ll need twice as many screens per movie to have the intended number of seats available. With that in mind, it would only take a few movies to fill an entire multiplex.

  38. Stella's Boy says:

    I was wondering that movieman after reading the recent comments from AMC’s CEO. He’s dreaming and delusional if he thinks theaters are open in June, but for the sake of argument if that were to happen what would even play? I don’t think he addressed that in the interview.

  39. Bob Burns says:

    to correct an earlier comment from me…. the malaria drug might help… all good news welcome.

  40. Triple Option says:

    I was wondering about film releases even before the big shut down. There are tons of films that get made each year that don’t get a theatrical release. I do believe people will return to the theaters this year. I could see a lot of the smaller films that would’ve been limited releases going wider. A film like Peanut Butter Falcon I could see being on 4x the amount of screens this year than it was in last year. Big companies will always have the advantage of buying in late. I do wonder if this couldn’t be the start of the tier pricing that has been speculated for some time? Some film that got made with a B- level actor that maybe winds up on cable or Amazon undetected goes for $8 in a theater. That Oscar-prayer film that would’ve only hit 4-screens right around the holidays is suddenly on 1200 with a $9 price tag. Meanwhile, all those films, which got moved off original dates to be dumped later because they just weren’t what they hoped, will be back at the standard $10 big budget studio price. Not saying this will be a huge amount but I could see there being a move by the theaters to get product that would’ve been there in the past but they had to overlook because Disney was saying “play 2 of our movies on half your screens at all time or else…” now not being an issue.

  41. Stella's Boy says:

    Will theaters want to book anything just to open their doors and start returning to normal? Or might they worry that people won’t show up if the titles are underwhelming? Might not be entirely scientific but I read about a new survey that says more than 50% of theater goers will wait a while before going back to the movies. Really curious to see what reopening entails.

  42. Triple Option says:

    Stella’s Boy wrote:
    Will theaters want to book anything just to open their doors and start returning to normal?”

    My belief is that theater exhibitors are like used car salesmen. Not that they’re trying to rip people off but they know people want to see movies and they’ve got movies to show them. They’re just linking buyers and sellers. They’re taking personal preference out of the equation. Partially because taste is so subjective but also because assumed quality can’t be a quantitative indicator. I mean, yes, that’s what you’re betting on in buying a name but they know there are no guarantees. Just as a buncha so-so flix with big names make tonz of money but some do not, and quality is not always the reason why.

    I don’t believe the general public isn’t going to know or assume or care that the action movie that opens in mid September or February is likely to be a snooze compared to the one that opens mid June. They like action films and bygum there’s an action flick opening! They’re not going to think that the movies that show on the screen come say this October are really the equivalent of NFL preseason games and that they should pass until spring of 2021. Theaters will pay to re-cut trailers and boost marketing campaigns of late acquired product. In some cases, I wouldn’t be surprised if studios acquire more completed content that they’ll spend a little extra to re-shoot some happier endings or clean up the editing in order to get it out by the end of the fiscal year. You can go to Anytown, USA and find 5,000-10,000 people at a minor league baseball game or high school football game on any given night, and the people will be happy.

    I agree, there is a trust factor that studios & prod companies and exhibitors need to be respectful of, but they never release or market a film promising it’ll be as good as Citizen Cane or Star Wars. (Though they sometimes imply it 😉 ) They’ll maintain their position as being just the messenger and let people make their own decisions, and moreover, bank on the fact that the gen pub has a short memory. So even if the fall is filled with a buncha meh films, (which, don’t forget a C film to a movie snob like the ones on this board, are often a B+ film to the vast majority), come 2021 when all the summer 2020 films start coming out, my guess is the online pre-sales will be right in line with where they were before the virus hit.

  43. Hcat says:

    I think Chinas plan to reopen cinemas was to fill them with Marvel movies and Avatar rerelease. The timing was off but the idea was sound, turn everyplace into a repertory theater until the relaese schedule is solid and people are comfortable coming back. I could see people emerging from quarantine being drawn back into theaters by Ferris Bueller, Dark Knight, or The Godfather. Or just some blockbuster from the past decade. Since this will likely wipe out the summer rerelease Top Gun this year in anticipation of releasing the sequel next year.

  44. Stella's Boy says:

    This seems bad:

    They asked 1,000 US consumers about their willingness to return to public events once the pandemic ends, and 49% reported it would take “a few months” to “possibly never” for them to return to movie theaters. 28% said they plan to attend movie theaters less often. In contrast, 15% of respondents said they would go to theaters more often than they did before, and 58% said their attendance wouldn’t change. Variety notes that “the net effect suggests an alarming erosion of theatrical returns that exhibitors and studios alike can ill afford.

  45. Stella's Boy says:

    You guys make good points. I suppose just being open is a win and they’ll be happy to have any size audience in the theater. Get people back in the habit of going to the movies. No doubt many people can’t wait to go back to theaters. They want that to happen yesterday. But I wonder how accurate a survey like that is.

  46. Stella's Boy says:

    Paramount sets a Labor Day weekend release for A Quiet Place II. Is that because there is confidence that will actually happen?

  47. movieman says:

    From the same Deadline article that said Paramount is pushing “Maverick” back to December 23rd:

    “I’m told many titles are flexible for all studios, and can always be pulled up to an earlier opening should the nation’s marketplace improves greatly. Also, most of these titles remain in post production. Also what many are expecting is that when theaters do re-open, it will take some time for audiences to come back. Winter holdover titles and catalog movies are expected to be on marquees.”

    “Winter holdover titles”? “Catalog movies”?

    Hard to believe re-releasing “Bad Boys for Life” or “The Invisible Man” and “The Sound of Music” (that’s a “catalog movie,” right?) will have people clamoring to multiplexes.
    Not when they can watch them more cheaply in the comfort–and safety–of their homes.

  48. Stella's Boy says:

    Oh ok that makes sense movieman. And it’s indeed very hard to imagine people going to theaters to see those titles.

  49. Dr Wally Rises says:

    Note that the CDC have said that if the curve flattens to the degree hoped, then the NBA and professional sport events could be back by June. You’d assume that movie theaters will go hand in hand with sporting events when both are safely able to resume.

  50. Stella's Boy says:

    I haven’t read that any professional sports will be back by June. That seems unlikely. Would that entail playing in empty arenas and stadiums? Last I saw baseball was hoping for July 4. And the latest projections were increased last night in terms of the number of positive cases and fatalities. And it’s projected to get bad again in the fall and winter.

  51. movieman says:

    Maybe I’m science-ignorant, but I never understood why Coronavirus rates of infection would be reduced in warm (vs. cold) weather.
    Aren’t one of the reasons things like malaria circulate as freely as they do in hot weather climates (e.g., Africa) is because of the naturally warm year-round temperatures?
    I was always led to believe–maybe by some inept science teachers–that cold air kills germs.
    Now they’re saying you can contract the virus from the air; that you don’t even need to catch it from another person.
    Airborne viruses are the scariest thing of all. That really takes us into dystopian sci-fi territory.

    If the Oscar ceremony is indeed held next year, I’ve got a hunch there will be an asterisk permanently attached to the winners.
    As in, “There wasn’t a helluva lot of competition for awards this year because almost nothing was released. So take this list of ‘winners’ with a grain of salt.”

    You can probably say the same about Tony or Emmy winners (if those ceremonies ever come off).
    America without the Super Bowl (or a World Series for that matter) seems well nigh inconceivable.

    I think both the Democratic and Repuke conventions should be cancelled this summer btw.
    They can figure out another way to nominate Joe Biden and the Orange Menace.
    Although we all know that Trump would NEVER EVER consider cancelling an event where he will be loudly and enthusiastically praised in front of a wildly cheering throng of loony cultists.
    I’m still nervous he might actually try to suspend the November election.
    He’s a “war-time president” after all, right?

  52. leahnz says:

    i don’t think it’s prudent to spread false and misleading information at this time, [EDIT]

    cold does not kill covid-19 (experts say the virus can survive for many days on surfaces in the freezer)

    only extreme heat kills covid-19, not the type of heat of even extreme summer air temps

    (they’re studying UV light, it may have a slight dampening effect on this virus — and sunlight produces Vit D in humans, Vit D a proven immune system booster, so if you live in a cold place in winter take a decent D supplement, best under your tongue, even at the best of times)

    useful link re the ‘airborne’ distinction:

    (short version: being close together with numerous other people with a virus that spreads on lung vapour in the air at micron level and via asymptomatic carriers is absolutely a seriously risk – this is why airline travel has been so critical in the spread of C19, a no-brainer really. that the risk of close-contact crowds lies primarily in emergency services being tied up when possibly needed elsewhere is absolutely false, and really the UK’s response to this pandemic has been extremely poor and inadequate so not sure it should be held up as any sort of example or expertise — as well as the CDC, sadly, which has been critically undermined and now under the thumb of Dear Leader and a crime syndicate posting as a government, the formerly vital centers for disease control having underestimated and downplayed this pandemic with deadly consequences. these are not normal times. when will this sink in??)

    n95 masks are one critical part of the solution to this pandemic, and the shortage – particularly in the west – is of extreme concern going forward

  53. leahnz says:

    bloody hell this nightmare is like a masterclass in dunning kruger; if there’s a future this era will go down in history as DUNNING KRUGER TIMES. sitting round the fire, in hushed tones: listen up children, to this cautionary tale of the dunning kruger times, chaos and destruction wrought by cruel, small people who were convinced they were smart when they were anything but — and beware! for those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Once upon a time…

    make it stop

  54. Bob Burns says:

    Notice that there are no ads on this and other film sites. Publicists ask us to spend money on their films, but won’t use their powers to support the sites that are so loyal to them, or to encourage loyal film fans to stay home and stay safe.

    Next time you see a film ad, or an FYC campaign, remember that behind that ad, and behind that FYC campaign are a crowd of truly self interested, evil people, who could care less about their carnival barkers running the film web sites and the rubes they mock.

  55. Stella's Boy says:

    A $125 million movie will debut on Disney Plus. How bad is it?

  56. movieman says:

    If the partial/tentative list of rescheduled movies posted on Deadline this afternoon is to be believed, summer 2020 looks like nothing but a slew of “B”-ish horror titles.
    Now THAT’S gonna get people off their couches and back into the ‘plexes!

    Sorry Mouse House, but not even the lure of “Artemis Fowl” (lol) can get me to sign up for Disney Plus.
    I wonder if the Disney movies that bypass theatrical and head straight to their streaming service will go the route of Netflix movies and never be released on DVD/Blu-Ray.
    (And it’s doubtful that Criterion will step up like they did with “Roma.”)

  57. Stella's Boy says:

    A summer of B-horror movies sounds like heaven to me but hey different strokes. Still seems highly unlikely theaters are back to normal before fall at the earliest. And it was only a few weeks ago that Disney’s head honcho said they had a strict limit when it comes to the budget for a movie debuting on the streaming service. Artemis blows way past that.

  58. movieman says:

    I have nothing against “B” horror on principle, SB.
    But a steady diet of anything–whether Marvel/D.C., kiddie ‘toons, rom-coms, austere artflicks or “B” horror–can get awfully monotonous real quick.
    And “B horror” seems to be the genre du jour of Summer 2020 (if it even happens at all: like you I have my doubts).
    It would be like Summer 2019 having been nothing but “Crawl”s. (No offense to “Crawl” intended.)

  59. Stella's Boy says:

    Oh I know movieman. As much as I love them I’m sure I’d get sick of them too if they were the only option. News seems to get worse by the day now. Here they just said that the peak is still 3-7 weeks off. And that could easily change. Going to be a long time before we’re watching movies in a theater again.

  60. Bradley Laing says:

    If the movie theaters are closed from March 20 until June 7, June 7 being the date Broadway re-opens in New York City, then the 2020 movie year will be 11 weeks shorter. 40 weeks is not enough to produce 20 animated features, so that category will have only three films?

    —I heard the Broadway related news on the radio around 1:40 pm et.

  61. movieman says:

    June 7th for Broadway?!?
    That sounds wildly/unrealistically optimistic, Bradley.
    Hope it’s true, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    P.S.= Is it OK to comment on movies/TV that we’re watching online/etc. on this thread?

  62. Ray Pride says:

    Try the BYO Big As All Indoors thread?

  63. Bob Burns says:

    ridiculous to think Cuomo will reopen Broadway June 7. The theater owner are morons if they think they will have much at all to do with that decision.Their insurance companies will tell them when they can reopen, and that will fepend on what the health department, the CDC and the Governor decide. The theater owners and producers have bit part in this show.

    Bog Iger is blowing smoke out his ass. Again, his insurance companies know his opinion doesn’t matter much. He knows it. They will not accept liability for the short term needs of Iger’s shareholders..

    Joe Camel comes to mind. Marketing poison to children. The law firm that took down the tobacco companies is located in Los Angeles. The studios would be a piece of cake after the tobacco companies.

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