MCN Commentary & Analysis

When Netflix Met Cinemark… And Nothing Happened

So news today, on May The 4th Be (fill in your favorite), that Cinemark and a bunch of the smaller chains will unite for a 600-screen run for Zack Snyder’s latest masterwork, Army of the Dead, opening in 17 days.

There are a lot of ways to look at this.

Of course, the expected “they said it, it must be true” writers are positioning it as some sort of “come to Jesus” moment for exhibition. Wrong. For the millionth time… Wrong!

I was kinda hoping they would be right, though I would come at it from the other side. I believe that Netflix will look to theatrical as a revenue stream before the half-decade is up. And I was hoping, from the headline, that this might be a start in that direction. But it isn’t that either.

It’s a one-week booking between Those Who Wish Me Dead/Spiral and Cruella/A Quiet Place II. (Speaking of which, when is Paramount going to start spending into this release? Or are they hoping it will fail at the box office and be better Par+ bait? Don’t get it.)

All that really tells us is that Netflix doesn’t know what the Academy rules will be next season, that Visionary Zack thinks he can get nominated for something (and Netflix probably agrees about effects or sound or something), and that this way, the week before opening (yet another configuration of distribution fucking up exhibition for no real reason), they will be qualified for Oscar like in a normal year. And if they are going to do it, why not take a commercial-feeling movie out for a test drive?

Here’s the punchline. Until the weekly domestic box office is over $75 million a weekend, there will be experiments by distribution that are readily accepted by exhibition. Nothing is The New Normal. (And if you really think it is, consider… What is that new normal? Which system? Because no two of the major distributors are operating under the same idea right now.)

And here is the reality about Netflix and theatrical… The sticking point isn’t resistance from exhibition. The sticking point is that Exhibition doesn’t want to give up valuable screens if Netflix isn’t going to sell their movies for exhibition at a level that rivals the major theatrical distributors. Exhibition would sign off on short-ish windows, Netflix would give up a larger hunk of revenues (if not 100%, as they try it out, trying to please filmmakers), exhibition would allow Netflix not to have their box office reported (at least until the majors pull out the knives), and Netflix would spend on marketing… Just not in the traditional way.

There will come a day when Netflix is $150 million+ into a big movie and believes in the film enough to think that it could deliver over $600 million in worldwide theatrical, and they will take a long, hard breath and get serious about negotiations. Of course, a movie that will make that much would want at least four weekends to run before it became the most- promoted Netflix exclusive ever.

Theatrical will have to be stabilized for a while and Netflix would actually have to believe in an in-house movie enough to make such a choice.

It sure wasn’t The Old Guard. They might love that movie, but Charlize, at best, is a $400 million worldwide bet. Would they love to have $200 million payback and then a huge draw on the stream? Sure. But too much of gamble. Too much building a franchise when they aren’t set up for that business. Not enough to break their own branded glass ceiling.

God bless Netflix. But the most important movie in May remains Cruella, whatever the outcome. Army of the Dead could do $20 million domestic. There is a hardcore army for Snyder. But Netflix doesn’t care about that chump change, kicking back maybe $8 million to the company. Zzzzz

It makes perfect sense that the story hasn’t even hit PenskeTradeLand, aside from the IndieWire hit by a freelancer. Nothing to see here, really.

9 Responses to “When Netflix Met Cinemark… And Nothing Happened”

  1. Bradley Laing says:

    Marcus CEO Says Movie Chain Is Open To Deal For Arclight Cinemas; “Arclight Is Reopening, I’ll Take That Bet With Anybody”

    —“Is it really ‘postmodernism’ if something from the 1960s reopens after a plague?”

    “post·mod·ern·ism

    a late-20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism that represents a departure from modernism and has at its heart a general distrust of grand theories and ideologies as well as a problematical relationship with any notion of ‘art.’ “

  2. Bob Burns says:

    My son is going to his first movie since COVID hit. He is in Portugal. Not yet vaccinated. Their cases are about one fourth of ours, per capita. When ours drop to a fourth of the level they are now, and it is likely that will be in a few weeks, we will be down below 10,000 a day……. which is the benchmark, for movies, set by Fauci a year ago. Risking a son for a movie is crazy, but it is his choice.

  3. Bradley Laing says:

    —I saw an article tonight saying the the broadcast networks are planning to raise their fees for commercials, and the advertisers are threatening to go to streaming platforms if the advertising rates are too high.

    —Back in November of 2007, I got fixated with the writers strike, and kept looking for articles that would tell me: how will the audience react to the writers strike?

    —the answer then, in March of 2008 was, it sped up the abandonment of broadcast for cable tv shows. (My memory does not make clear if those were ‘premium’ cable channels the audience left for, or ‘basic cable’ channels they left for. Both?)

    —I spent a lot of time asking myself, after march 2008, if the broadcast networks could bring back the mass audience to watch shows, in large enough numbers to count as a revival of the broadcast networks.

    —30 million people watching “ER” each Thursday night on broadcast, in 1994, seems to be when you could have talked about mass culture and broadcast television in the same sentence.

    —But the mass audience split among a thousand streaming service choices on tv each night? That is mass culture?

    —Any ideas about this from the Gurus o’ Gold?

  4. Bradley Laing says:

    —I went back to the comments thread to see what I asked about back in May and April of 2020, and I had forgotten the Hanks and Wilson news story,

    Jordan Moreau
    April 25, 2020. After recovering from coronavirus, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have offered their blood to help develop a vaccine for coronavirus.

    In early March, the couple tested positive while in Australia for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic, in which Hanks is starring. They returned home to Los Angeles at the end of March after quarantining and recovering from their symptoms.

  5. Bob Burns says:

    Warner bounces one more time. Glad they are gone from AT&T, but things can always get worse. I wonder if Netflix is Warner’s ultimate home.

  6. Hcat says:

    Warners has too much infrastructure for Netflix. Netflix is not interested in owning Cable channels and a competing streamer. If Netflix is looking to buy, Paramount would be a much better fit. Most of the television assets are on the CBS side so they could probably wrest the studio and its post 50 library away for a couple billion. Then they would have a strong foot in theatrical and a guaranteed major in their camp (to go along with their Sony deal). Lionsgate would be another possibility. Any other fish are too big to swallow.

    I forget the actual dates but it seems to me that WarnerMedia spent more time in regulatory review than in actual operation. I am much more hopeful for this merger than the last one. Malone seems to have a good head on his shoulders and its a strong combination of assets. Warner with its TV and movie library (which wasn’t mentioned in the first few articles I read, sad commentary on the state of business) along with comfort and childrens fare from animal Planet and HGTV.

    Warners has never been my favorite studio but they are scrappy and I appreciate their ability to stay at the top of the heap. This move might put them back on top where they belong. I would rather have them as Hollywood’s Apex Predator over Netflix or Disney

  7. Bradley Laing says:

    In the state of Michigan, the hope is restrictions on public gatherings will stop on July 1. My thought is: could there be so much pent up demand for going out, that television watching at home goes down in an unusual manner?

    I was thinking, foreign travel did not happen as much during 2020. Maybe people will “make up for it” by going on two out of country trips, instead of one? (Tuscany during the Northern Hemisphere summer, Bahamas during the Northern Hemisphere winter?)

  8. Hcat says:

    The reporting on the MGM deal bugs me as there is a lack of understanding of its history and just what comes in the catalog. MGM does not own its classic films, they went to Turner and then Warners in the 80s. I dont see a single mention of United Artists in any of the articles I have read and that makes up the bulk what is owned.

    But I am glad these orphans are finally getting a home. Hopefully they can breathe life into it after soooooo long.

  9. Bob Burns says:

    we have 700,000 police officers with a license to kill…… the sanctimoniousness about 007 is ridiculous, IMO.

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