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Is this the year that theaters die?


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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I don't know that they will go away completely. They make a lot of money when things are normal.

I think, that for us olds, we overlook a big part of the movie-going experience. While this might change from place to place, in the Before-Times, it was common for the teen community to go and see movies together and "hang out" (kind of like a big social date) where I live- in fact, that was the #1 activity for a lot of them.

When things get back to normal, I'm guessing that they would like to go back to doing that. IMO.
 

I think the largest movie studios have been watching the returns on streaming as a replacement over the last year. Unless it is viable for them, they have a vested interest in physical theaters returning. What is likely is less theater chains and the possibility of said movie studios buying them up on the cheap and branding them. So you will get all your Disney films at a Disney branded theater. I expect there will be legal entanglements.
 

embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
AMC got a big infusion of cash in January. Basically, if it didn't, it would have to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

It's still not out of the woods but it may survive.

There's a reason it, along with GameStop, was targeted for a short sale. It's in a very weak position with increasing liabilities to depressed income.

Another thing to look for is how consumer electronics manufacturers and big box retailers did this quarter. Income and consumer spending were up. If the spending went to TVs and streaming boxes, that could be bad for theaters. Why spend $100 to take the family to the movies when you can pay $15 a month for Disney+?
 

embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
I think the largest movie studios have been watching the returns on streaming as a replacement over the last year. Unless it is viable for them, they have a vested interest in physical theaters returning. What is likely is less theater chains and the possibility of said movie studios buying them up on the cheap and branding them. So you will get all your Disney films at a Disney branded theater. I expect there will be legal entanglements.
Hard to get less than what we have now. There's AMC, Cinemark, Regal, and Carmike. That's pretty much it.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I think the largest movie studios have been watching the returns on streaming as a replacement over the last year. Unless it is viable for them, they have a vested interest in physical theaters returning. What is likely is less theater chains and the possibility of said movie studios buying them up on the cheap and branding them. So you will get all your Disney films at a Disney branded theater. I expect there will be legal entanglements.

Weirdly, you might not be wrong. But this is a very recent development.

For most of Hollywood's history, studios (think Disney) have been prevented from owning the distribution theaters (think AMC). However, at the end of 2019 the government agreed to end the consent decrees that prohibited that ownership. Weirdly, this happened right before the pandemic (although it was the culmination of a longer process).

As for why studios are streaming right now, it's not because of the money. They are losing a lot of money doing this. Instead, its because they know they won't be getting a full box office this year, and they are using their movies to promote their own streaming services in order to compete with Netflix, et al.

Take the short-term hit for the long-term gain of sweet, sweet subscription dollars. Because when it all shakes out, I don't think there will be this many major subscription services.
 
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MarkB

Legend
I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of the major distributors are quietly buying up any of these sites and companies as they fail, in anticipation of consolidating / monopolising the market once things open up.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of the major distributors are quietly buying up any of these sites and companies as they fail, in anticipation of consolidating / monopolising the market once things open up.

Yeah. Controlling the chain from raw materials through production and distribution is a capitalist's dream. It also leads to monopolies, lawsuits, and companies being broken up. So, we'll see how that shakes out.
 

Ryujin

Hero
I sure hope that it won't be the case. I also fear that it'll be so. We've already lost the magic of going to a tiny 1, 2. or 3 screen theatre to the megaplexes and now it certainly seems like everything will be moving into the home. I saw "Return of the Jedi" in a beautiful, large, 1920s style one screen theatre that I think is now a block of condos.
 

Hard to get less than what we have now. There's AMC, Cinemark, Regal, and Carmike. That's pretty much it.
There's still some regional chains, but yeah what you listed is it.
I sure hope that it won't be the case. I also fear that it'll be so. We've already lost the magic of going to a tiny 1, 2. or 3 screen theatre
We had two two screen theatres,but the chain that owned them consolidated all of their screens into an eight screen theater.
 

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
Teens want to go to the theatre for obvious reasons!

Since the vast majority of moviegoers are between 12 to 25 years old, I don't see theatres dying any time soon. It's not in the interest of production studios.

Those who are in peril are the cable companies who offer pay-on-demand movie rental services. Direct streaming from studio sites will kill them. Direct streaming will become mainstream but offered only after the theatres have made their profits.
 
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Ryujin

Hero
We had two two screen theatres,but the chain that owned them consolidated all of their screens into an eight screen theater.
Back in 2018 over 5000 people backed the campaign to save the Rio Theatre in Vancouver, BC. It's a live theatre and single screen movie theatre, that was built in 1938, and was going to be sold. It would likely have turned into condos like the one I mentioned above, in Toronto. I'll probably never see the place and my only connection to it is knowing someone who takes part in a live D&D improv there, once a month, but I though it was a worthy cause. They're currently keeping the lights on by showing big screen sports, along with the usual fare.

 

Wishbone

Paladin Radmaster
Movie theaters will stick around I think—small theaters are feeling the squeeze pretty intensely compared to the larger chains, even before the Coronavirus hit. The National Association of Theater Owners has a good set of resources on this stuff when it comes to the United States in particular. Since the Paramount Consent decrees are out now as well we might see some consolidation among production, distributors, and streaming services like a Disney owning their own theaters as a way to own all aspects of the business.
 

Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
It’s all about COVID. Things settle down and people will go nuts and do anything to get out again.

some will fold and from their ashes others will spring up. To entice people there might be more food (dinner) and booze options/other services added to change the experience.

just a guess. If COVID improves I am betting people are going to get rich if they wait like vultures in the industry. But a bunch of small chains and independents are probably permanently hosed.
 

Wishbone

Paladin Radmaster
It’s all about COVID. Things settle down and people will go nuts and do anything to get out again.

some will fold and from their ashes others will spring up. To entice people there might be more food (dinner) and booze options/other services added to change the experience.

just a guess. If COVID improves I am betting people are going to get rich if they wait like vultures in the industry. But a bunch of small chains and independents are probably permanently hosed.

Small chains and independents were probably already hosed by trends of market consolidation and the rise of streaming independent of COVID. COVID obviously poured some accelerant on those long-burning fires, but its part of why people like Martin Scorcese were decrying the dominance of comic book movies and Bong Joon Ho was talking up his love for movie theaters ahead of his Oscar win.
 

Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
Small chains and independents were probably already hosed by trends of market consolidation and the rise of streaming independent of COVID. COVID obviously poured some accelerant on those long-burning fires, but its part of why people like Martin Scorcese were decrying the dominance of comic book movies and Bong Joon Ho was talking up his love for movie theaters ahead of his Oscar win.
I feel bad for them. In a rural area during grad school we went to little independent theaters. It was nice. You could even afford an arm load of refreshments. I am sure they are busted now and don’t even want to look them up.
 

Retreater

Legend
We still have a drive-in close by, and it was hopping last summer. We went there for our honeymoon since our wedding, reception, and big plans got scrapped.
I'd been cutting down over the past few years going to the cinema anyway. I went only for the big event movies. The next "only in cinemas" movie I'd probably want to see is the new Spider-Man. My wife has already told me she won't be ready to go despite its December release date.
For her (a reasonably healthy 28 year old) COVID was the end of public events. I'm a 42 year old with existing health conditions, but I'll be willing to do reasonable things once I get vaccinated. So I think it comes down to what people are willing to do. I expect I'm in the majority, so I think cinemas will bounce back.
 

MarkB

Legend
We still have a drive-in close by, and it was hopping last summer. We went there for our honeymoon since our wedding, reception, and big plans got scrapped.
I'd been cutting down over the past few years going to the cinema anyway. I went only for the big event movies. The next "only in cinemas" movie I'd probably want to see is the new Spider-Man. My wife has already told me she won't be ready to go despite its December release date.
For her (a reasonably healthy 28 year old) COVID was the end of public events. I'm a 42 year old with existing health conditions, but I'll be willing to do reasonable things once I get vaccinated. So I think it comes down to what people are willing to do. I expect I'm in the majority, so I think cinemas will bounce back.
Next winter is probably going to be the true test of how stable our "new new normal" will be after the vaccines have been mostly rolled-out and people have got used to socialising again. It's when any new strains of COVID are likely to start hitting us, and will be when we see how well the current vaccines hold up, or how agile the pharmaceutical companies are if new waves of vaccine are required to cover adaptations by the virus. It'll be our first taste of whether COVID eventually develops into another seasonal flu.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It's when any new strains of COVID are likely to start hitting us

No. Now is the time we start seeing new strains take hold.

Production of new strains is a statistical process. The more people are infected, the more likely we are to see a relevant new strain produced. As the number of active cases drop, new strains arising become less likely. So, in the autumn, when hopefully most folks are vaccinated, we should see a minimum of cases, and thus a minimum chance of new strains.
 

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