August 12, 2005
Gregg Kilday writes in today’s Hollywood Reporter:
“Hollywood spends millions of dollars hawking individual movies, but precious little attention is spent to selling the notion of moviegoing itself…Potential ticket buyers need to be reminded that moviegoing is a communal experience that can’t be duplicated at home, even with the best home entertainment systems. If the film industry doesn’t begin to speak up in its own defense, it has only itself to blame as audiences continue to drift away.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan Bing opines in Variety:
“HERE’S AN UNCONVENTIONAL solution for Hollywood’s box office problem: Redesign the multiplex. Bulldoze the thousands of poorly subdivided concrete boxes dotting America’s cities and suburbs; rebuild them as state-of-the-art retail and entertainment centers. Dim the garish lighting, plant new cars and other attractions in the lobbies; and customize the place by movie genre — date movies could be screened in theaters with love seats; teen movies could be screened in theaters that can be hosed down at the end of the night.”
He concludes, “Consumers are pissed off. Faced with rising ticket prices and 20 minutes of onscreen ads, it’s going to take more than stadium seating and free refills to win them back.”
July 27, 2005
Slate’s Edward Jay Epstein has written a fascinating article about the “secret numbers” used within the film industry to track revenue from theatrical, DVD, and other releases.
Consider how earlier this year entertainment journalists rattled on for months about a slump in the American box office—“Box Office Slump In Its 19th Week”—as if it were a sporting event in which the Hollywood studios couldn’t get winning hits. The story would have been different if they had seen the data on Page 16 in the 2005 Three Month Revenue Report. (Click here for that page.) Instead of a box-office decline, the studios actually took in more from the U.S. box office in the first quarter of 2005 ($870.2 million) than they did in the similar period of 2004 ($797.1 million). So even though the total audience at movie theaters declined during this period, this came mainly at the expense of independent, foreign, and documentary movies. For the Hollywood studios (and their subsidaries), in fact, there was no slump at all.
If you want to understand the dynamic forces reshaping today’s film industry, this is required reading.
July 22, 2005
KANSAS CITY, MO — The Kansas City Business Journal has a report on a plan by AMC and the Cordish Company to create an $850 million dollar entertainment district in Kansas City.
The project, which plans to use the Midland and Empire theaters as anchors, will be centered in Kansas City’s downtown area. It will include a six-screen movie theater, residential condominiums, a restaurant, a bar, and a performance schedule that boasts “300-and-some days” of planned entertainment.
Interestingly, the project is a local one for AMC, as the company’s headquarters is actually in Kansas City.
July 18, 2005
A front-page article in yesterday’s Boston Globe discusses National Amusements' high-end ‘Cinema de Lux’ concept, now operating in the small town of Millbury, Massachusetts.
The 14-screen theatre features a piano in the lobby, reserved seats, wine and cocktails, lounges with free magazines and newspapers, plasma TVs showing baseball games, and a concierge who can book reservations at nearby restaurants.
‘'The idea is to change from a movie theater to a community entertainment experience,“ said Shari Redstone, president of National Amusements Inc., the Dedham operator of Showcase Cinemas and Cinema de Lux theaters.
The company plans to open three more ‘de Lux’ cinemas in Massachusetts over the coming year. All of its future theatres will be based on this ‘de Lux’ concept.
July 7, 2005
AMC, since followed by Cinemark, is now offering a money back guarantee to moviegoers who see the new Ron Howard film “Cinderella Man.”
“Cinderella Man”, which stars Russell Crowe as a Depression-era boxer trying to make ends meet and revive his career, has stuggled to find success in this summer’s box office climate despite excellent reviews from critics. Some attribute this to Russell Crowe’s offscreen antics, the general downtown in ticket sales, poor marketing, bad timing, etc.
“It’s in competition with films with lots of special effects and big action this summer. This is a quiet film,” Falk said. “The whole effort was to focus attention on what is a beautiful film that deserves an audience but just hasn’t gotten one.”
So far, only 100 patrons have asked for actual refunds since the promotion started.
July 6, 2005
A recent New York Times article took a look at the rising amount of advertising being shown at movie theaters.
A few interesting highlights:
• In 2004, ads in United States movie theaters grew 23 percent to $438 million, according to the Cinema Advertising Council.
• More than 27,000 of the total 37,000 movie screens in the United States run cinema advertising
• Off-screen promotions – including revenue from in-lobby promotions – rose 41 percent to $64 million.
• On-screen advertising revenues grew 20 percent last year to $374 million
Gizmodo has an interesting blog post about the so-called death of the movies.
“The Taipei Times — and the rest of the world — is bemoaning the death of the movie business. People stay at home, get Netflix, drink a beer or six, and watch Godzilla vs. Mothra for hours at a clip. No one goes to the movies anymore. Hundreds of ushers are out of work every day. Popcorn machines are idle. The movies themselves, of late, are dreck.
I think the real key is that people don’t like to go to movie theaters. As a result, new movies get seen at home, where it’s a bit harder to track box office receipts. I suspect that any movie that comes out now will get 30% of it’s receipts from the theaters. The rest comes from everything else: DVDs, rentals, TV, etc. We have so much to watch that we don’t want to go anywhere. We need to stay at home just to catch up, and we catch up long after the movie hits, and fades from, the theatre."
June 21, 2005
According to this story from Yahoo News, the long-discussed merger between AMC Theatres and Loews Cineplex is about to become official.
What this means in terms of theatre divestment or zones with competing AMC and Loews properties (the AMC Empire 25 and Loews 42nd Street E-Walk in Times Square and the 600 N. Michigan, Esquire, and AMC River East 21 sites in Chicago, among other examples) remains to be seen.
May 25, 2005
The Associated Press takes an interesting look at the history of the megaplex…
While it seems as if gigantic movie theaters have been with us forever, the megaplex theater — defined as having 14 or more screens and modern amenities like stadium-style seating — turned 10 years old last week.
AMC Entertainment opened the first, the Grand 24 in Dallas, on May 19, 1995, ushering in a concept that used its scale to change how movies are shown. Ticket prices and audience expectations have gone up in the 10 years since, and megaplexes now face problems of their own.
The idea was to match the successful “big-box” stores sprouting across suburbia, said Peter Brown, chief executive officer of Kansas Citybased AMC, which now operates 229 theaters, 77 percent of which are megaplexes.
Pretty interesting read. There’s more at the East Valley Tribune website.
May 23, 2005
CANADA — A recent story in the Globe and Mail reported that Cineplex Galaxy movie theatre chain is considering buying its biggest competitor – Famous Players.
If the sale takers place and is approved by the Canadian government’s Competition Bureau, Cineplex-Galaxy would own slightly more than 70 percent of Canada’s movie screens.
The story also includes a hint of what to expect in the future when you buy your ticket. According to the head of Cineplex-Galaxy, there will be about 20 minutes of ads and promo’s projected digitally before the lights go out for the main feature. This is seen as a way to keep the price of tickets down.