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Variety report on state of exhibition

“Getting to this point has been a struggle, and the rate of change in a century-old sector of the entertainment industry has been stunning. Major studio films like Dune and Halloween Kills were refashioned as simultaneous HBO Max or Peacock releases. Streaming services snapped up some of the buzziest projects on the market and, in the case of Amazon, bought one of the most storied studios in Hollywood history by signing a deal to acquire MGM, the home of James Bond. And AMC Theatres, no one’s idea of a cool company before COVID, improbably emerged as a meme stock embraced by an army of Reddit traders who sent its share price soaring into the stratosphere. But the headaches, hurdles and head-spinning twists and turns aren’t over yet. Even as Peter Parker continues to capture more and more moviegoers, the movie theater industry continues to grapple with major challenges. Spider-Man: No Way Home has been an optimistic coda to an otherwise downbeat year at the movies, at least in terms of most films’ commercial performance. The domestic box office was much improved from the dumpster fire that was 2020, with total revenues expected to top out at roughly $4.4 billion. That’s a massive 91% increase from 2020, which was after all a 40-year low for the business. However, it’s down approximately 61% from pre-COVID 2019. The good news is that frequent moviegoers, defined as those who go to theaters once a month or more, have returned in force, but ticket buyers who go to a handful of movies annually aren’t really buying many tickets. About 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer going to multiplexes, and some of that contingent, roughly 8%, have likely been lost forever, according to studies.”

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