The first thing I attended was the “Movie Theaters Aren’t Going Anywhere” seminar on Monday afternoon. Jeffrey Cole gave a speech about the current movie industry. According to an online bio: he’s the founder and director of The Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg, he’s an expert in the field of technology and emerging media, and he serves as an adviser to governments and leading companies around the world as they craft digital strategies.
Here’s the details about what he said….
- Movie theaters are not going away because (like I have said in the past) there is no other way for a single movie to make $1 BILLION. Since the start of the pandemic there have been 4 movies to make over $1 billion. “Top Gun Maverick” was the first (which is incorrect – it was the first in 2022) and then “Spider Man No Way Home” (which was the first since it was released in 2021), “Avatar The Way of Water”, and “Jurassic World: Dominion”. There will soon be a 5th with “Super Mario Bros Movie” (which has now passed $1 billion worldwide).
- Streamers started playing movies like “Glass Onion” for limited runs in movie theaters, but not because of the money. He said that Netflix really didn’t care about the $15 million that the movie made in only 300 theaters for 1 week (an incredible $50 thousand per screen average). As he explained it “…they were borrowing the status of movie theaters to boost the credibility of the streaming service. As Netflix’s reasoning went, a movie that appeared in the theater was better and more special than one that went directly to streaming”.
Then he mentioned things to be aware in the future….
- Not all the movie theater audiences have returned to the movie theater. Most notably, people over 60 have not returned to the pre-pandemic levels. They may need some convincing to return to the movie theater like the special ticket pricing for the “80 For Brady” movie.
- The decline of the shopping mall is something to think about since about half of the movie theaters in the US are connected to or inside a shopping mall. From 2010 to 2019 the number of shopping malls went from around 1500 to around 1000, and some shopping mall stores closed for good due to the pandemic. Movie theaters need to start thinking about alternatives to connecting to a shopping mall.
- Monthly or annual movie subscriptions could be a good thing. The initial “Movie Pass” program was a failure for multiple reasons but the idea of “all you want” for a monthly or yearly fee is a good idea. It’s been proven that people love subscribing to things like streaming sites, music subscriptions like “Spotify” or “Apple Music”, or annual passes to amusement parks like Disneyland. They can use service or go to the amusement park as much as they want. They would probably be interested in paying a fee to go to a movie as often as they want. Even if it isn’t “as many movies as you want” – like what AMC and Regal are now doing – other theaters should look into something similar.
- There is still low attendance for quality movies some might consider “art films” or “adult dramas” like “The Fabelmans”, “Tar”, and “She Said”. Some are saying the audience thinks that movies without special effects or dramatic scenes would be something to watch at home instead of in a movie theater (something I mentioned in my “Air” movie review). He thinks that people should look into that more.
- Make better use of audience data for movie theaters. He says that other companies would love to have the type of data that movie theaters can get about their audiences. However, movie theaters don’t look at and/or use the data enough. One example is the connection between watching a new movie trailer and then purchasing a ticket for the movie at the movie theater.
- Tech companies are starting to invest more in movies, although it’s mostly for their streaming channels. Apple and Amazon have recently announced that they will invest money into making movies for theatrical release. This should be good a good sign for movie theaters since getting more movies into theaters will ultimately mean getting more people into movie theaters.
Oddly, I just found almost everything he said at the seminar was also posted online at the link below minus a few impromptu comments such as if he still has a job or not (the seminar was on the day Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon were fired and the first day of the Disney mass layoffs).
Sony Pictures presentation
The next thing I went to is the Sony Pictures presentation on Monday night. It started with a video clip of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence on the set of “Bad Boys 4” which has just started filming.
Then a Sony person who was boasting that they are one of the only studios without a streaming service, so they waited to release their movies in movie theaters (although I remember that Sony sold a few of their movies – like “Greyhound” starring Tom Hanks – to a streaming service). Then he announced that Sony Pictures (and their partners) would be releasing 23 movies in 2023.
Then their presentation of upcoming movies started (these are not in the order they were in for the presentation).
- Director Craig Gillespie and star Paul Dano came on to the stage to talk about their movie coming out this fall called “Dumb Money” which is based on the true story about how some young stock investors made professional investors freak out when they made the “Game Stop” stock skyrocket. Paul Dano plays the lead guy who started the stock market craze. Then they showed an extended clip of the first few minutes of the movie.
- Sony Pictures animation came next and brought out “Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse” co-director Kemp Powers and stars Shameik Moore, Issa Rae and Hailee Steinfeld. They talked about the movie and then they showed about 15 minutes of the upcoming animated movie.
(Sony seems very proud of all the R rated movies they will be releasing this year – all of the following movies will be rated R).
- Aaron Taylor Johnson appeared in a video and announced that the next live action Marvel movie from Sony – “Kraven The Hunter” – will be rated R. Then they showed a few scenes from a possible teaser trailer that could be coming soon.
- Stand up comedian Bert Kreischer appeared in a video dressed like a mermaid – because his upcoming movie “The Machine” is being released on the same weekend as Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”. Then they showed the trailer for the R rated movie inspired by what he says is a true storyabout when he hung out with Russian mobsters when he was younger.
- They showed an extended trailer for the next movie in the horror/thriller “Insidious” franchise “Insidious: The Red Door”.
- “No Hard Feelings” producer and star Jennifer Lawrence and co-writer and director Gene Stupnitsky came out. Jennifer joked that the movie is based on Genes real life. Then they showed a clip from the R rated comedy.
- Actors Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney came on stage to talk about their upcoming R-rated romantic comedy “Anyone but You”. Then they showed a trailer for the movie.
- Director Antoine Fuqua came out to present Denzel Washington with the CinemaCon Lifetime Achievement award. Denzel came out to a standing ovation to accept the award where he said “If it wasn’t for you (meaning: movie theater owners) we wouldn’t be working”. Then he introduced his co-star of “Equalizer 3” Dakota Fanning and the 3 of them introduced the world premiere of the first trailer for the movie (this movie will also probably be rated R since it’s a red-band trailer).
(I believe that’s the end of the series of R rated movies they showed although “Napoleon” will probably be rated R).
- Actors David Harbour and Orlando Bloom came out to talk about the “Grand Turismo” movie which is based on the video game and the true story of how a video game player became a real driver in a race. Then they showed a trailer for the movie.
- There was a video of producer Jason Reitman and the cast of “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”. Although they didn’t announce the name of the sequel movie currently scheduled to be released at the end of this year, they did say that the movie would return to New York City and the firehouse seen in the original movie (and during a scene in the end credits of the last movie).
- The final thing they showed is from Ridley Scotts “Napoleon” which is a movie produced by Apple but Sony will release it in movie theaters with a “robust theatrical window” at the end of this year before it shows on Apple TV. The movie stars Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon who is featured in the extended clip they showed.
Best moment: Teleprompter humor: Most of the people who came out on stage read from teleprompters that were set up in front of the center of the stage and on the back left and right walls (I was sitting a few feet away from one of them in the back). When David Harbour came on stage he was very excited, but then he became very serious when he started reading from the teleprompter. At one point he mumbled something like “..did the writers’ strike start…”. After Denzel Washington accepted his award, he started reading from the teleprompter which said something like “accept the award, ad lib, introduce Dakota Fanning”, so he literally said “…ad-lib ad-lib ad-lib Dakota Fanning….”.