MCN Commentary & Analysis

Is The Sky Actually Falling This Time?


It’s not a complicated answer.

COVID-19 isn’t a fart in the wind, which is about what it takes to get media to start screeching about the end of this or the end of that part of the industry. But this isn’t Armageddon either. Not even close. That is, unless it is literally Armageddon and most of us are about to die and some guy in a space vehicle is going to land and find that apes actually rule the planet. (Three years of Trump has been close enough, thanks.)

Every “stupid” journalist who has been drooling for a decade for everything to move to streaming while not remotely understanding the economics is dancing in their foyers (afraid to go out in the air for anything less than the quest for toilet paper), finally ready to be proven right. Ding, Dong, Theatrical is dead!

But this isn’t 1969, kids. It’s 2020. With the exception of the car wreck that is Viacom/CBS/Paramount, the major studios are all major corporations with multiple revenue streams, many of which are not reliant on people leaving their houses to go to the movies, visit a theme park or to buy branded merchandise.

As obnoxious as corporate overlords can be, they are really good at one thing… planning out an extended view of the future. The movie and TV business is too reliant on the mercurial tastes of the public to make this a comfortable skill for the industry in most situations. But right now, with what looks like a four-month and then maybe another two-month window of serious business disruption, the ability of the bean counters to understand how beans will be valued in 2021 and 2022 and not just this quarter (though, of course, they want consistent growth quarter after quarter) is a savior.

Again, I don’t want to underplay the reality. March and April have become a launchpad for a lot of box-office revenue and obviously, summer months May, June, and July are three of the strongest five months of the year. There is money to be lost.

BUT… the argument that this is a moment that suggests we dump the theatrical window because people aren’t going to congregate for a few months makes as much sense as doing “Medicare For All” right now because it will help with COVID-19. It’s just bullshit. That doesn’t make either argument bullshit (though I believe the “everything on streaming” argument is financial armageddon for the industry and only makes sense if you want the entire future of filmed entertainment to be low budget), but both claims are bullshit in the immediate reality.

Here is a bit of 2019 math.
Netflix Gross: $20 billion – $2.6b operating income
Disney Movies Gross Only – $11.1 billion – $2.7 billion operating income

Disney spend about $2.2 billion on production and another $1.5 billion or so on marketing their 12 big releases. And of course, this doesn’t include post-theatrical revenue or ancillaries or park value for Disney. Netflix spent well over $10 billion on production and over $2 billion on marketing to be Netflix.

But here is the thing… theatrical is not the biggest part of the revenue or profit streams at Disney. It is the smallest segment of the $69 billion a year in revenue created by the company. And yet, by itself, it is still a more profitable business than Netflix right now.

This is not a slam of Netflix. The company will eventually start scaling its spending to its revenues. But wild spending is how they have built this era of their remarkable, industry-changing machine and they are playing out that idea. God bless.

But theatrical is one of the areas that is easiest for Disney to deal with at this moment, even with COVID-19 messing up their schedule over the next 18 months (by messing up the next 4-6 months). Their big financial problem is the parks and that isn’t going to be fixed quickly. $26 billion a year and it is not hard to imagine $10 billion of that evaporating off this year’s P&L.

On the other hand, we don’t know what the consequences of this will be in other areas. Will cord cutting slow significantly as people stop caring about the cost of what is coming into their homes and just crave consistency? OR will cord cutting speed up because people have so much time on their hands, they can focus on making the move? But will they be slowed by not being able to get faster internet installation into their homes during this turmoil? We don’t know the answer.

With Peacock pushed to April and HBO Max pushed to May, have Comcast and AT&T missed their big opportunities to sell new products to America at a time when we can all use the free trial period to dig into the content? OR will people be so sick of Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime that new content will be more valued and must-get than it is right now? We don’t know the answer.

Will delays to the major sports leagues and movies and live events and human interaction in general lead to a fear that will take many extra months to overcome or will people rush back into life with an never-before-seen aggression when they feel safe sometime this summer? It could be the greatest July-October ever… or a sluggish one. We don’t know the answer.

Here is what I do know. If Mulan cost $200 million, the opportunity to get to $1 billion worldwide means that if Disney pushes its luck and it only does, say, $400 million, they left $250 million or so in returns on the table. This $70 billion annual revenue company can afford to eat the $100 million loss it may take this quarter if it means $250 million more in a few months… or 7 months… or a year.

Universal had led in this regard, first pushing the new Bond movie to its “natural” November slotting and then, under pressure with an even bigger franchise, pushing F9 and entire year to 2021. Here is the news, dumb ass… they aren’t doing that as a show of weakness in theatrical. It is a show of strength and how important the billion dollars in grosses mean in the ecosystem of a big movie.

Would I delay an indie film? Not by a day. (Well, if it’s next week, maybe… but not after.) I would push hard to promote the idea that it is being made available to audiences regardless of COVID-19. I would cut the VOD cost to try to push a bigger buy rate at this moment of attention to being stuck at home. But the indie theatrical world is a different beast than wide release.

And as I posted on Twitter the other day, the fantasy of Frozen 2 going on Disney+ early being a huge moment in distribution… check the facts. Disney is waiting, specifically, for their 17-week contractual window to end before pushing to Disney+. So the only window they are collapsing is their own DVD/VOD window/A d why? Because this is an opportunity to sell more Disney+ subscriptions and Frozen 2 is the best bait they have available to them right now. If they had the launch of Season 2 of “Mandalorian,” this wouldn’t be happening.

So journalists, do us all a favor and stop talking to agents who are screaming, as they are always screaming, about the end of the world. Screenings are cancelled, so embrace it. Studios, get good at streaming delivery to journalists so your content can be reviewed easily. Academy, start streaming movies to your membership… like you have for months… and teach those who aren’t on board how to work an AppleTV.

I could get further into the math of the future of streaming and theatrical, but that will wait for another day.

Be careful out there. Take care of yourself and you will be taking care of everyone. Use social media to listen, not just scream (except about Trump). And let’s enjoy this pause in our lives and get ready to seize the day when it’s safe to kiss your grandma again.


74 Responses to “Is The Sky Actually Falling This Time?”

  1. YancySkancy says:

    If things keep going the way they’re going, however, for the first time in history, all Academy Award nominees will be first-quarter releases. 🙂

  2. cadavra says:

    Speaking of which, it was a lucky choice that the Academy moved the ceremony up a month, otherwise they too might have been faced with a tough decision.

  3. Mostly Lurking says:

    Interesting article as usual, thank you. I had asked a question in the Onward thread about whether it would be a good time for a studio to test the waters of a big pay per view release day and date during this time, but it was based on the premise that at least some studios had an interest in taking out the middle man. Based on this piece, it seems that at least the top studios are easily positioned to weather this storm without even having to think about dipping their toes in this water, but I am curious what you think will happen to the exhibitors if some of the busiest moviegoing months are, for lack of a better word, cancelled this year. Are the AMCs and Regals of the world similarly able to withstand this? Certainly the smaller theaters aren’t, which is a shame and could lead to even less availability of screens for smaller films down the road.

  4. Dr Wally Rises says:

    It’s interesting that Black Widow remains staunchly unmoved as still being released on May 1, at least at this point. With the outbreak now in retreat across Asia in general and China in particular, maybe they are counting on (or have arranged for) Chinese theaters being back in full operation in six weeks time. Maybe they want the release of BW to be a celebratory moment when the Western hemisphere emerges from its lockdown and gets back to business, although most models of the virus point to it not peaking in the West until May or even June, with Easter the most optimistic assessment.

    Marvel are essentially playing a game of chicken with a pandemic.

  5. Bob Burns says:

    I’m not going to the theater, or public events, or maybe even any restaurants, until i get a vaccine shot….. or Ho finds a pill.

  6. movieman says:

    What do you think the odds are that the biggest theater chains (Regal, AMC, Cinemark) will go dark for at least a few weeks?
    I can’t imagine them staying open when there’s nothing to play except past-their-expiration-date titles (I’m looking at you “Brahms: The Boy 11”), and zero new releases on the immediate horizon.
    Why would anyone bother leaving the house (and risk potential danger) for moldy oldies?
    Uncharted waters and all that.

  7. Stella's Boy says:

    Yeah that movieman and how long will they have staff willing to show up? Seems like in a week or two with nothing new they’ll be closing down. I get what you were going for Lurking. Maybe the blockbusters are fine but you wonder about a smaller movie like The Hunt and how that would do as a premium VOD. Blumhouse seems willing to experiment though Universal might not want to.

  8. Bob Burns says:

    Will they market Black Widow, the way cigarette companies advertised with smoking doctors in the 1950’s? MD’s in white coats saying they can’t wait to see Black Widow, and they are taking their families…… ?

  9. Rams says:

    Cinemas are the most resilient businesses on the planet. Unlike some of these boobs who are not in exhibition or distribution, I have a lot of experience, I know theatres will fight to the bitter end. And f**k all the skeptics!!!!!

  10. YancySkancy says:

    I mentioned in another thread that the local AMC’s $5 Tuesday was practically a ghost town, but yesterday we went to a 12:30 matinee of Emma at another local plex and the turnout was much better, if still down from the norm. I don’t see it as a sign of hope, of course, because this area (where Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois converge) hasn’t been hit hard by the virus yet (15, 18, and 66 cases respectively in those states, last I checked). We took Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer. But since I have asthma and my girlfriend is diabetic, we will likely commence with social distancing in earnest until … whenever.

  11. Stella's Boy says:

    That is wise. The images of Nashville and Wrigleyville and Bourbon Street and Brooklyn are infuriating. Or the hooples who are like America fuck yeah watch me eat at Red Robin to own the libs. It sucks but it’s necessary. Glad folks are still posting here.

  12. Mostly Lurking says:

    “Cinemas are the most resilient businesses on the planet. Unlike some of these boobs who are not in exhibition or distribution, I have a lot of experience, I know theatres will fight to the bitter end. And f**k all the skeptics!!!!!”

    If this is directed at me (and based on your comment in the last post, it’s a fair assumption) you can f**k right off. If not, why not elaborate? I didn’t give an opinion one way or the other, simply asked a question about whether theaters, large and small, can withstand business falling off a cliff for the foreseeable future. If you have so much experience, why not engage in discussion and enlighten those of us who are less informed as to what makes the exhibitors so resilient that you don’t think it’s even worthy of discussion? I for one would actually welcome the insight.

  13. Bradley Laing says:

    “The most American professional sports leagues had already suspended play for the time being, the CDC’s recommendations will likely further delay play. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, NBA executives believed a “best-case” scenario for resuming the season was “mid-to-late June.”

    “Posted: 7:30 PM, Mar 15, 2020 Updated: 8:34 PM, Mar 15, 2020
    By: The Associated Press”

  14. Stella's Boy says:

    No gatherings of 50 or more for 8 weeks per CDC. How much longer can theaters really stay open?

  15. Bradley Laing says:

    “New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have ordered all movie theaters in their cities to close amid the global coronavirus crisis, an unprecedented move for two of the nation’s biggest bustling cities.

    The Hollywood Reporter
    7:13 PM PDT 3/15/2020 by Kimberly Nordyke , Piya Sinha-Roy”

    —How much money, at minimum, do the studios make from the theaters in these cities each week end?

  16. Hcat says:

    Well NY and LA are the two biggest media markets so you have to figure the number is about 20% of their total weekend take. However, the take is shrinking as people are going to be limiting their social behavior. By next weekend it would probably make more economic sense for theaters to remain closed voluntarily since so few people would be showing up. All restaurants are going semi dark (carryout is allowed) as of tonight in Illinois. So I would figure that means the snack bars and cafeterias as well. I would think theaters might not be far behind.

    Our local drive in is closed for the season but I would think this would be a unique opportunity for them, Open two months early, allow outside food and stress people to stay in their cars.

  17. Hcat says:

    BOM stated that this was the lowest dollar weekend since 1995, so I looked back to what that might be and as far as I can tell it was the mid September doldrums where To Wong Foo held its #1 spot for the second weekend against openers Clockers and Hackers. So that’s the environment they are looking at for the next few weeks.

  18. Stella's Boy says:

    The Hunt and The Invisible Man will be available VOD on Friday.

  19. Amblinman says:

    Well holy shit. The sky has fallen and it’s the end of the distribution world as we know it:

    (I do not feel fine)

  20. Stella's Boy says:

    The debate about this is raging. People for against, mixed. People who like the idea but not the price. I know that the last time I went to a movie a few weeks ago a weekday matinee cost more than $13. The last time my family of four went the tickets alone cost more than $60. I love going to the movies but the cost and the hooples talking or on their phones have taken some of the fun out of it. I’m curious to see how this works out, if others join in, if they release grosses, etc.

  21. Hcat says:

    Both low budget films. In a non pandemic world, neither of them would have had more than 20 million left in their tanks (and that is being polite to Hunt)..

  22. Stella's Boy says:

    Sure but does it stop here? Or will others follow now?

  23. Mostly Lurking says:

    “Both low budget films. In a non pandemic world, neither of them would have had more than 20 million left in their tanks (and that is being polite to Hunt)..”

    I think you missed the part of the article that says Trolls: World Tour is being released at home on April 10, the same day it was set for theatrical.

  24. Mostly Lurking says:

    “In an extraordinary step, the studio on Monday said it will make its movies available in the home on the same day as their global theatrical releases, beginning with DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls World Tour,” opening April 10 in the U.S.”

  25. Hcat says:

    I indeed did miss that part, actually didn’t bother to click link, LA Times loads poorly on my computer.

    That does indeed change the conversation. I would assume the budget is roughly the same neighborhood as the original which would be nine figures. Though Universal’s downside on this is minimal since they are simply the distributor, and they don’t seem to have the same fervor for releasing Dreamworks products as previous companies.

    This is surprising but if this was Minions I would be gobsmacked.

  26. Hcat says:

    So Comcast owns DWA outright, so they are on the line for everything. I am wrong about a lot of stuff today.

  27. Mostly Lurking says:

    Well, the article says that beginning with Trolls it will release movies in the home on the same date as their global theatrical release but that doesn’t mean that as with F9 the real big tentpoles won’t be moved. Trolls is no doubt a test case and they can decide on a movie by movie basis whether to move or do a simultaneous release. Interesting that it’s one of the big studios mentioned in the article that is first to make this move.

  28. Hcat says:

    They have already moved F9 so after Trolls they are clear until mid June. And even then it’s Candyman and a smallish Apatow film. We should be out of the woods by then.

  29. Amblinman says:

    Re: Disney expecting Asia to be back online in time for Black Widow premiere: does anyone here really think Asia is gonna run to sealed in spaces with masses of people again right off the bat? Same goes here. Virus running its course will be greeted cautiously at first, and the fallout from the next few weeks/months is not static. Too many folks are assuming we will pick up right where we left off, and that there will be a clear demarcation line to start that. I dunno that any of that is true. Hope so! I’m in the Bay Area sheltering in place. This shit is intimidating in ways I did not anticipate. And I’m fairly certain this story ends with me being laid off.

    Uni’s idea: the movie dork is heartbroken at the idea of a world without or greatly reduced theatrical experience. The middle aged crank who already hates people is thrilled to rent Invisible Man this Friday. Being in the Bay Area, $20 to see a movie is a win. No joke.

  30. Stella's Boy says:

    That’s a good point about how we’ll be easing back into things. All these places saying they’re closed through March 31 or April 9 or whatever is hopelessly optimistic. Seems like we’re months not weeks from things starting to return to normal. My wife works from home but her employer is based in your area amblinman. She’s very worried about being laid off. Hoping for the best for you.

    Yeah I see so many waxing poetic about the theatrical experience and I remember feeling the same way at one point but not so much anymore. I love going to the movies in theory more than practice these days. That might change when this all ends.

  31. Rams says:

    I would like to thank David Poland for his really on target remarks on Twitter. In this age of Netflix, I don’t think people are going to pay $20 for one film more than once or twice before they realize what they’re doing. Movie theatres have made trillions of dollars for these studios in the 115 years they’ve been around. If they throw out the golden goose who laid the golden egg, good for them. Not in my lifetime. . . (also read the article in MCN on restaurants. They appear to be pretty f**ked too).

  32. Stella's Boy says:

    Anecdotal but I’ve come across a whole lot of people who are extremely excited to rent those movies on Friday. I think there’s a lot of interest in premium VOD even among people who still love going to the movies. $20 to rent a movie seems very steep because it’s so much more than we’re used to. But I spent more than that on one ticket and a small popcorn the last time I went to a movie and that was a weekday matinee. I’ll pay twenty bucks to rent The Hunt. And I hope they release figures so we know how much these movies make on VOD though not sure how likely that is.

  33. Stella's Boy says:

    And re: his tweet that people will do this once and then realize they don’t want to pay to rent what they didn’t want to see in theaters, not sure I agree. I think something different could happen and people get used to and don’t mind paying twenty bucks for movies at home given what movie tickets and snacks go for. I think a lot of people avoid theaters more than they used to because of the cost, cell phones, etc. Or they still go to the movies but are very open to premium VOD.

  34. Rams says:

    You do realize that you are paying your mortgage or rent, your house insurance, your utilities, maybe a housekeeper, maintenance and on and on. You obviously have no clue of how expensive it is to run a cinema, They have employees to pay and give most of the rental to the voracious studios. No movie theatres. No movies. All television. If that’s what you want obviously, ENJOY!

  35. Stella's Boy says:

    I didn’t say that was what I want. You seem new here and I’ve noticed that you aggressively attack anyone who doesn’t express 100% love and support for movie theaters. You put words in people’s mouths and are very condescending. In other words, you are a dick. Please stop or go away.

  36. Amblinman says:

    Let’s be clear: movies are great but movie theaters suck ass now. It’s miserable seeing a film in it’s “preferred” format when you don’t prefer:

    – Incessent phone checking
    – People ordering chicken fingers and other people bringing the chicken fingers to them. During the movie.
    – a million billion commercials preceding the billion trailers. (remember when trailers were fun and not an endurance test?)
    – Bullshit upcharges that add no real value to the experience (XD theaters are for rubes).
    – 3D. That alone… Those fuckers owe us all for bringing that hot garbage back into our lives.

    So, yeah, sure movies on a big screen are awesome. Big screens surrounded by chicken fingers and constant screen flashes from phones tho… Eeehhhhhhh

  37. Hcat says:

    “You do realize that you are paying your mortgage or rent, your house insurance, your utilities, maybe a housekeeper, maintenance and on and on”

    Are we not paying those if I go to the theater? Does my grass only grow when I am at home? I love theaters and wished the theatrical window was actually longer and despise the adoration given to television, so we might be pretty simpatico in the subject matter but your delivery leaves much to be desired. Theatrical has been dying since before I was born, it was still healthy as of last year (though the theater companies were carrying too much debt after too much consolidation, though that is probably just my pet peeve and a problem with the economy as a whole), and once we emerge from our homes again it we will start seeing films again.

    Meanwhile, Comcast finally gets their Tower Heist moment, but given the unique circumstances I don’t see this being replicated when things normalize. The future of the industry will not be decided by Trolls 2: More Trolls.

  38. Stella's Boy says:

    Exactly. Well-said. And I think there are a lot of people who sometimes are willing to risk it and other times would like to see something at home even if it means twenty bucks to rent. I guess we’ll find out.

  39. Hcat says:

    Sorry, that should have read “the death of theatrical has been predicted since before I was born.”

  40. Stella's Boy says:

    But what if it turns out that the shortened window for movies other than Trolls 2 proves to be successful? Not that I know what success looks like. Given how long theaters will be closed I’m not sure this is just a quick blip.

  41. Hcat says:

    What makes this less worrisome to me is this really isn’t experimenting with the release window since the conditions of the experiment will not be recreated (hopefully). Though if this leads to all animation being automatically sent SVOD you will get no tears from me.

    The larger economy falling into a massive recession will have more impact than any window tomfoolery. Possibly losing Paramount to bankruptcy and having one less major. Or falling into bankruptcy themselves.

    Basically I think moviegoing will return to normal.The only question is when normal will return.

  42. Mostly Lurking says:

    I think you guys might be underestimating the appeal of Trolls 2 to the 5-11 year old crowd. After three weeks trapped at home, I’m guessing that movie is going to blow up in a big way on April 10, and for family movies where you’d need to buy 3 or more tickets, $20 is a steal.

  43. Stella's Boy says:

    I’m not confident in a return to normalcy given our leadership and the way many refuse to engage in social distancing. If we do get there it feels like it’s a really long way off. I could be wrong but I can see premium VOD catching on. I can see things not getting back to the way they were. That seems optimistic right now at a time when I’m not feeling too optimistic.

  44. Stella's Boy says:

    I know my family will for sure be watching Trolls 2 that weekend.

  45. Hcat says:

    And Black Widow gets held back as well.

  46. Amblinman says:

    If you’re hoping for a return to normalcy that involves gathering in a big room with other humans to watch a movie

    I sincerely do not think a lot of Americans understand what is about to happen to us. Our culture is about to be upended in any number of ways. Normal isn’t happening for quite awhile.

  47. Hcat says:

    Quick request, it looks as theaters are going dark in the next few days, the daily box office has shrunk to near nada (what will BOM be doing in the meantime?), productions are halted and will probably be so until May at least so there wont be a ton of industry news……..

    But can everyone check in here every once in awhile?

    I think it would help with Stir Craziness. Especially if things are prolonged. I don’t care about topics, just let us know what you’re watching and how you’re doing.

    This was the wrong time to finally watch Melancholia.

  48. Stella's Boy says:

    Great request. I’ll be here. Plenty to watch for now. Will definitely be seeing The Hunt. Hope we can retain some semblance of normalcy here. This place is a refuge.

  49. movieman says:

    I’ve spent the past week and a half trying to figure out how to “teach” an online film history class.
    Since 90% of the instructors in my department (and university-wide for that matter) have never taught online before–or received any prior instructions on how to do so–it’s been, uh, challenging.

    From the sound of things, theaters won’t be opening until (maybe) June.
    Will there be a deluge of product at that time, or….?
    Considering how many productions have gone into indefinite hiatus, it’s only commonsensical to push as many things back to 2021 as possible, I suppose.
    But we’re in such uncharted waters, it’s impossible to gauge anything beyond (maybe) 12 hours in advance right now.

    I enjoyed “Big Time Adolescence,” although I can’t imagine it ever having made much of a dent theatrically.
    Can Pete Davidson play anything other than “Pete Davidson”? He does it well, enough but there’s gotta be an expiration date on that. I mean, Davidson is OK, but he’s no (vintage) Adam Sandler.
    And Netflix’s “Lost Girls” was perfectly decent while hardly earth-shattering. (Is it just me, or was Amy Ryan channeling Toni Collette?)

    Very much enjoyed the first episode of HBO’s “The Plot Against America.”
    It almost made up for the season premiere of “Westworld” Sunday night which was as maddeningly opaque as ever. (Apparently you can leave the park, but you can’t leave “Westworld.”)

    Has anyone seen “Swallow”? It sounds both intriguing/disgusting.

  50. Stella's Boy says:

    Very interested in Swallow and The Plot Against America. Both on my quarantine watch list.

    Good luck with online teaching. I know at my university they’ve been preparing instructors and sharing a lot of resources. Some have never taught an online course before and it’s not an easy transition. I hope your institution is providing you with resources. Good luck and let me know if I can be of any help. I’m teaching an online course right now and have taught a few others in the past.

  51. Amblinman says:

    I’ll be here.

    Random hot take that isn’t hot: American Beauty sucks. Fuck were we all thinking in 2000.

  52. Triple Option says:

    I didn’t really care for American Beauty. I didn’t hate it but at the time I thought it was such a snooze. I couldn’t understand the appeal when the films The Ice Storm and Happiness had already surpassed what American Beauty was even afraid to attempt.

  53. Hcat says:

    Was there a negotiation with a guild that could have led to a strike on the horizon this summer? I swear I remember some rumblings before all this happened that there was planning in case there was I believe a writers strike? I can’t imagine how this turmoil will affect that.

    I was thinking that Trolls might actually be a bonanza for Disney. As a parent looking at a value of having Trolls for two days for 20 bucks or another streaming service for two months for the same price, it looks like a no brainer.

    I was one of those who liked American Beauty at the time (it was the first DVD I owned after getting the player). Now its a little embarrassing, like it was a deep film for shallow people. I still laughed the last time I saw it but Lester gets more and more pathetic each year I see it, especially once I reached his age. Benning was great as always, but everything is ridiculous and pitched about 25% higher than it needed to be. But not the most egregious best picture winner, and easily Spacey’s best starring role (Life of David Gale was one of the worst films I have ever seen, screaming at the screen “how are you so fucking bad” bad). They guy made the worst possible choices both on and off screen.

  54. movieman says:

    I liked “American Beauty” OK at the time, but found its Oscar sweep mystifying.
    (Yes! “The Ice Storm” and “Happiness” were infinitely superior versions of the suburbia-is-hell template. As were “Little Children” and Sam Mendes’ own “Revolutionary Road” seven/nine years later respectively.)
    Haven’t given “AB” much of a thought since then although every time a new Mendes film opens I think, “This is so much better than the movie he won his Oscar for!”

    Catching up w/ the final season of Showtime’s “The Affair.”
    It took awhile to get back into it, and the multiplicity of story threads were initially aggravating (I loathed the futuristic Anna Paquin scenes w/ their laughably gratuitous nudity), but w/ two eps left I’m now fully in.
    Dominic West and (especially) Maura Tierney were both fantastic in this.

  55. Stella's Boy says:

    Never underestimate your kids demanding something new Hcat. We’ve had Disney+ for several months now and they never ask to watch it. We try to get them to watch it from time to time and it never works. Plus we have it for free for a year. I think for many parents it’s not an either/or situation. These are unique times. People with kids will pay $20 to rent Trolls 2 even if they have Disney+. I know we will. And I’m guessing it will be watched more than once during the rental period. It hasn’t even been a full week yet and the kids are already bouncing off the walls and driving us crazy. If renting Trolls 2 helps even for 90 minutes, so be it.

  56. Hcat says:

    Maura Tierney kept me watching ER about 5 years longer than I needed to. Absolutely adore her and have been thinking of checking out the Affair if I get the chance. But your recommendation had me at laughably gratuitous nudity.

    I have found one of those cheap ass rerun stations deep down on the cable dial (me, or decades, or this is TV) plays Newsradio reruns late at night so I have been filling the DVR with them in anticipation of long days inside. There is a slew of episodes that has Lauren Graham in a recurring guest role so with the two of them sharing a screen I am in television crush heaven.

  57. Stella's Boy says:

    Ruth Wilson told some pretty troubling tales of The Affair and a highly problematic work environment. Felt very pressured into and uncomfortable with the nudity, among other things. And a producer/director harassed Lena Dunham while shooting the show near where Girls filmed. Can’t say I have any interest in ever watching that show.

  58. Mostly Lurking says:

    Not really unexpected at this point but I’m a Stubbs member and just got an email from AMC that they are closing all theaters nationwide. They expect it to be anywhere from 6-12 weeks.

  59. Mostly Lurking says:

    Article from the wrap speculating that given its current financial position, AMC is particularly vulnerable and will have a hard time surviving the shutdown. A lot of additional discussion of many of the issues raised in this thread.

  60. hcat says:

    Have only a cursory knowledge of the Stock Market but as of today AMC has a market cap of 257 million. So you could pick up the nations largest theater chain for less than the price of a John Carter or an F9. Then again if you bought it you might not be able to unwrap it until Christmas.

  61. Stella's Boy says:

    Yeah I think Dave’s piece here was a little premature. 12 weeks is a pipe dream at this point.

  62. Stella's Boy says:

    And Sony joins Universal. Bloodshot hits VOD on March 24.

  63. Hcat says:

    So that article, and the ones linked to it, were pretty pessimistic. Yes its stock is down to near nothing now, but it has been shrinking for the past two years. It was only at 7 at Feb when the shit hit the fan and the possibility of closures became evident.

    I know there are a more than a few here that really liked their stubs service, but do any of you think it was a good business decision? Lets take our most fanatical costumers and give them a huge discount. No matter how many times I am at the liquor store I never get an upgraded package or free booze if I come in at a regular pace. Movie attendance has the same type of consumption curve, and AMC gave a free pass to those who are actually willing to regularly pay to go to the movies! They shot themselves in the foot competing against Moviepass which wasn’t sustainable to begin with.

    Adding to that, the thinking they should create a streaming service SO THAT PEOPLE HAVE THE OPTION OF RENTING A MOVIE WHEN THEY COME TO THE SITE TO CHECK THEATER TIMES. Um Duh. That is not money well spent.

    And of course, expansion and consolidation of smaller chains paid for with money you don’t have yet.

    Closing the theaters ahead of a government mandate was the only cautious move they have made in quite awhile.

    So Coronavirus might kill AMC but they were a twopack a day smoker who didn’t wash their hands. And if AMC goes under the screens would just be bought at firesale prices by someone else, theatrical will still be around. What are they going to tear them down and open a retail store?

  64. Hcat says:

    ‘Bloodshot hits VOD on March 24.’

    Are we positive that wasn’t the original release schedule? 🙂

  65. Mostly Lurking says:


    I don’t know the first thing about the finances of Stubbs A list but as an outsider with a little bit of general knowledge about the exhibition business I always thought it was about getting bodies in the theater so that they can purchase concessions, which to my understanding is where theaters make most of their money, particularly in recent years where everything was front loaded to the first few weeks of release.

    As for Trolls and any other films that now go day and date, it’s not just about a quick cash grab, but a test for getting people in the habit of paying more to watch something new at home. If this goes on long enough and Trolls is successful, a studio could very well take a gamble with a tentpole type film. I’ve always thought that a big part of everyone rushing out to see the big movies the first weekend is FOMO and to avoid spoilers. Assuming they enjoy the at home experience, it won’t be as hard to get them to do it again once things are back to normal.

  66. Stella's Boy says:

    Ha no not sure Hcat. I’m amazed that non-FF Vin Diesel movies with budgets north of $50 million still get made.

  67. Sideshow Bill says:

    I’ve been on self-lockdown since last Wednesday. Last years pneumonia (literally a year ago today) Beat up my immune system. Now my work is closed indefinitely.

    So yea, I’m around. Hope the rest of you are doing OK.

    I wish they’d get some other movies out early like Underwater or Bad Boys 3. I’m not interested in The Hunt.

  68. movieman says:

    Yep, Hcat. I’ve loved Tierney since “News Radio,” too. (Forgot about the Lauren Graham arc: “Gilmore Girls” always seemed like the first time I saw her.)
    Funny you should mention “E.R.” since I’m always calling Tierney’s “Affair” character “Abby” (instead of “Helen”) when discussing the show with people, lol.
    Guess she’ll always be Abby to me.
    And “The Affair” had a very satisfying conclusion: I think my eyes were moist throughout all of its 90 minutes.

    Watched “Swallow” this afternoon and liked it quite a bit
    Disturbing, hell yes. But also compelling, uber-stylish and Haley Bennett is sensational.
    Was surprised to learn that Joe Wright was one of the producers.

  69. Triple Option says:

    Isn’t AMC the nation’s biggest chain? As far as who’d get federal assistance, I’d imagine it getting a check considering the breadth of its reach and people served and mandates against opening.

    I’m an A-List member. We’ll see what films Hollywood is releasing when they get the all clear to open. I know it was the winter dump season but there wasn’t that much promising coming out as it was. If they grab up a ton of indies just to have product, I’ll stay, otherwise I may shelve it until Thanksgiving or Christmas.

    @Movieman – I have not seen Little Children. Will look for it though.

  70. cadavra says:

    Am I the only person who remembers that if you invite three friends over for a $20 movie, it’s now $5 each–and you still have your own very cheap popcorn and beer?

  71. Ray Pride says:

    Chinese megacorp owns AMC… One of the arms of Dalian Wanda.

  72. Stella's Boy says:

    Little Children is very good. Or at least I remember feeling that way. Haven’t seen it in a while. That cadavra or for a family like mine it’s 5 bucks a person. I think it will be popular.

  73. movieman says:

    It’s cute that Mojo still has their entire outdated theatrical release schedule online.
    You’d swear they’ve been self-quarantining without internet for the past two weeks.

  74. Hcat says:

    I think I saw that the EU is asking Netflix not to stream any HD material, only SD in anticipation of the internet toppling over with everyone indoors.

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