17 days is the new theatrical window deal that AMC cut with Universal. From 90 to 17 and AMC will share in the VOD/PVOD revenue.
The deal includes at least three weekends of theatrical exclusivity for all Universal Pictures and Focus Features theatrical releases, at which time the studio will have the option to make its titles available across PVOD platforms. Universal said its traditional windows for electronic sell-through and regular VOD remain unchanged.
The Pardoner is coming soon and it’s up to a familiar action hero to take him down.
Earlier today on FIRST LOOK Friday we looked at Endless (see: FIRST LOOK: Endless), scheduled to be released simultaneously on VOD and in theaters (if they are open). That’s a teen romance, now here’s an action film starring Diehard alum Bruce Willis.
Bruce Willis stars as tech billionaire Donovan Chalmers, who hires a team of mercenaries led by Jesse Metcalfe‘s Derek Miller to protect one of his most dangerous pieces of technology. But things go off the rails when a terrorist group kidnaps Chalmers daughters to try and get their hands on the tech, while Miller winds up face-to-face with an old enemy.
Honestly, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen an action film that’s been that good with Bruce Willis in it. He hasn’t fallen on as hard straight-to-video times as Steven Seagal, but he’s been in some stinkers no doubt, considering the former glory he once had.
I thought he might do a decent job as Paul Kersey in the reboot of Death Wish, but that script was a mess and he played that iconic Charles Bronson role too stoic and reserved. The whole idea of remaking that 70s classic film was bad, so maybe Willis shouldn’t be blamed.
This movie, as some others Willis has been in, looks somewhat interesting. Willis is 65, he’s not going to be doing much running and gunning. It looks like the Jesse Metcalf is getting the majority of the action and Willis is playing more of the boss/financier.
Same release circumstances as Endless, am curious what theaters will be showing this or if the big three will hold to the line that they won’t show day and date releases. This means we’ll be more likely to catch it on streaming.
Will we pay to see it there or wait for some streaming service to pick it up? Strong lean toward wait here, but maybe feelings change next month if theaters aren’t reopened. Vivarium (see: 22+ Vivarium Reviews – Eerie Social Isolation Timing, Better Suited as Anthology TV Episode) showed up on Amazon Prime Video pretty fast (it’s showing there now) after we purchased that on VOD. This is the problem with VOD releases, that people will wait for movies that don’t blow them away (this one doesn’t) with interest.
What was the last good movie you saw Bruce Willis in? Has it been awhile for you, too? I’m thinking Expendables as Church (?) His role in Motherless Brooklyn ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ in 2019 was too short to consider.
Hard Kill will be streaming on VOD and simultaneously released in theaters (if they are open) on August 28, 2020.
Another movie is quietly testing the theater owners’ patience by a simultaneous release planned for next month, August 2020.
It’s called Endless and so far is not getting the “they are betraying the theatrical window” buzz, at least not that I’m seeing out there. Could be because it’s not coming from a major studio.
The trailer for teen romance movie Endless has been released ahead of its August debut in theaters and on demand. The news comes in the midst of pandemic-related theater closures, which have forced many feature films, such as Tom Hanks’ Greyhound, to release straight to streaming. Others are waiting for traditional theatrical releases in August, though it remains to be seen if that will be possible.
I think the reason the theaters aren’t loudly complaining is they still aren’t sure they are reopening in roughly 10 days from this post. Why complain in the media about it when this might turn out to be another release to VOD and maybe to some scattered drive-ins and independent theaters? They don’t need any more negative press, they just need to get open as soon as it’s safe and legal for them to do so. Their lawsuit in New Jersey to allow them to reopen isn’t doing so well, according to this Variety article.
Here’s the official trailer:
Famke Janssen, from Taken, is in the movie. I don’t get that excited about teen romances movies (there are a few that I’ve enjoyed), but this title at least at this moment in time is most notable for going day and date (simultaneous release in theaters and streaming) route.
Endless will be available on VOD and in theaters (maybe) August 14, 2020.
Whenever the movie theater experience returns from the pandemic, the new movie viewing environment during all of this for the disabled has at least been leveled.
While exhibitors love to preach the sanctity of the communal experience, that belief system often seems to neglect the fact that a portion of that community — 15 percent of the world’s population, to be exact — can’t participate. Those with disabilities who can’t visit a theater are often left to wait at least three months to see a movie. And when you’re already treated differently, any distance from normalcy takes on added significance. It’s understandable why people on social media mourn the loss of theaters, but imagine if you were never able to see a movie in a theater in the first place.
I’ve mentioned the disabled before as another key benefactor for VOD (or PVOD). Also, small children who are unable — and bless their little hearts (proud grandparent here!) — to stay still through an entire movie and/or disruptive.
At a minimum the public service value and proper business compliance with American Disability Act requirements, it seems to me the theaters (listen up, NATO!), studios and VOD streaming services can properly take care of these folks.
Honestly, I’m not sure why this hasn’t been an exception to the theatrical window already. I’m guessing NATO is arguing that these new releases would be hacked and/or cut into the box office revenue, but that’s bogus. At a time when civil rights are front and center, we need also to remember the rights of the disabled.
Once upon a time, people bought and listened to music on a physical format or listened to their favorite song on the radio and then went to the store and bought the album. That world was upended after one too many physical formats and the rise of the internet and Napster. Apple would intervene offering the concept of buying tracks for a buck a song and that pretty much killed off buying full albums. Now, consumers could carve up filler on albums and only buy their favorites.
(vinyl records are enjoying a passionate resurgence in interest, but no idea how long this will last — hopefully a long time!)
Yes, the businesses aren’t exact parallels in study, but check out this quote and apply it to studios and movie theaters.
“What I said out of the gate: It’s a mindset shift,” Bell says. “I was thinking to myself, this is a whole new world for us. Let’s reinvent what we need to do. Operationally we had to shift. We’re already going into an increasingly digital world,
I think the future of movie theaters not only will, but must involve a better sense of embracing technology than they have. There have been some little tech things like before the movies show Nuvee playing interactive games with theater patrons and Regal’s Moviebill experience where you get this interactive magazine with your phone to learn more about the movie and get some cool 3D swag.
That’s a start. More, please.
I’m a champion of using technology to enhance and improve business including marketing, customer experience and satisfaction. There’s more that theaters and studios can do, working together, instead of fighting over the — gasp! — a shortened theatrical window they should be exploring alternative options for how each side can benefit from a world with a shortened or — gasp again! — no window.
Will they do this in a post pandemic world? With no vaccine yet, we are going to have to continue to live in a current virus is out there world for many months, maybe years into the future. Businesses that embrace changes tend to stay healthy longer than those who don’t. I’m hoping movie theater owners will look at technology to help them, not see it as a threat.
The House of Mouse just posed in front of the mirror, pecs, abs, muscles bulging.
Perhaps it’s another month — minimum — of stay at home orders and theaters being closed or it’s the big D further promoting their hit Disney+ service, or maybe they just want to generate some (any!) good press at a time where most press is gloom and doom.
“With audiences largely unable to attend theatres in the current environment, we are thrilled to offer the premiere of ‘Artemis Fowl’ on Disney+,” said Ricky Strauss, President, Content & Marketing, Disney+. “Director Kenneth Branagh and his spectacular cast take viewers right into the vibrant, fantasy world of the beloved book, which fans have been waiting to see brought to life onscreen for years. It’s great family entertainment that is the perfect addition to Disney+’s summer lineup.”
It will be interesting to see if the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) snipes at them — the 800 pound gorilla — like they did with Universal for daring to release a new wide release movie outside of theaters.
It should be noted that Disney has pushed most of their titles back, in anticipation and support of theaters opening again … someday. What that landscape will look like whenever that is will largely remain a question of how long they’ve been closed. AMC, the biggest theater chain on the block, seems financially to be the most vulnerable, but time will tell.
My guess is NATO is busy crapping in their collective pants, hoping and praying that more studios don’t start cutting deals to release some of their films on streaming. It’s a fine line to walk: piss off the “exhibitors” (talk about a snobby title, they don’t even consider themselves “movie theaters”) or give people stuck at home some way to see new movies they were hoping to see.
If this pandemic goes into summer, the movie theater busiest months, there could be more titles making the jump. The studios realize there is a captive audience at home right now, eager to watch new movies. The smartest thing they can do is to filter at least some of their content into that pipeline.
If Trolls World Tour opening Friday April 10 — on VOD — does well (buy your virtual tickets, this will matter), mark my words: more new movie titles will be coming.
Not saying it should be the large budget tentpole movies, but the medium and lower budget movies should definitely consider going to the highest streaming bidder and/or VOD with some kind of lucrative split arrangement.
A lot of doomsday news out there right now and it’s getting tougher to avoid and stay positive. I’ve been saying almost since this blog started that the theatrical window needed to be reduced (see: It’s Time To Shrink Theatrical Window To 30 Days). 90 days is too long to wait for streaming. We’re in a “now, now, now!” society and any business that doesn’t adapt will die.
I didn’t write about this in October with any vision that there would be this coronavirus forcing hands, but if the movie theater chains would have been more receptive to streaming six months ago, they’d better be able to sell streaming as an alternative viewing option now. Remember how they dug in and wouldn’t let The Irishman screen in theaters because Netflix wasn’t honoring the all-too-sacred theatrical window?
What comes around goes around.
Vudu is advertising movies as “theater at home” I like that graphic (see top of post), but don’t care as much for the slogan. It’s not theater at home and can’t be unless you have a decent sized room with theater seating, a giant TV screen and superb sound quality.
Some people do. Most of them are wealthy. For the rest of the world, these are merely movies that were meant to be in the theaters, but currently are available at home because there is no where else to show them.
Studios are trying to ring some cash register anywhere during the current virus climate.
While the on-demand model may work or at least mitigate the damage for some movies that are shut out of theaters due to the virus, Greenfield says,“the math really doesn’t work” for big films. For low-budget or mid-range movies, releasing them on demand remains a gamble — an exercise in trying to solve an equation when variables are unknown.
I tend to agree that for films with budgets exceeding $100 million it’s not likely to be as profitable, which is why when theaters can reopen they will and the big tentpole movies will encourage people to return to theaters.
Speaking from my own point of view, I want the theatrical window to shrink so more new movies that aren’t wide releases can be available sooner. There are dozens of movies that don’t even show up in local theaters that we’re unable to see. A few of them I’ve profiled here that I really wanted to see — but couldn’t (yet). If those movies launched simultaneously in limited screenings and on demand streaming, I could see more of these new movies.
Will admit again, as have done several times before, that we aren’t average moviegoers. We’re extreme moviegoers. We’ve seen around 100 new movies in theaters in the last six months, when the average moviegoer sees 3-4 movies in theaters a year. We’re not the norm.
The bigger problem than the theatrical window is film budgets. Studios need to go back to being more penny-pinching with film budgets. This will make it easier to turn a profit no matter how they decide to release films. Simultaneously releases for say movies with $10 million and less budgets will allow studios to explore new income opportunites.
And theater chains needs to get with the program. AMC has an on-demand streaming division, but it seems to be left out of their current gloom and doom conversations. Why aren’t they getting more creative about these options right now, actively and excitedly promoting them?
AMC is promoting on their website “theater on demand” which is their version of VUDU’s Video On Demand rental service (you can buy Onward from Disney for $20). Personally, I don’t see as much value in a rental for $20, but do see buying the movie for $20 as worthwhile. Heck, throw in bonus and behind the scenes and it makes for an at home price even more attractive.
Instead, AMC, is out there moaning and groaning about all their fixed costs and $0 revenue coming in and how they need a loan to keep their business afloat.
Aren’t they making any money from their (“new”) streaming? Must be greater than $0. Something isn’t adding up here.
I’ve been mentioning that the timing is right to do something about shortening the theatrical window and at least during the current virus situation consider eliminating the window altogether in some geographic territories (IE. India, China).
Yes, there will be pirating. There still is now, even without streaming. Everybody’s afraid of the pirates destroying the world. As wider bandwidth increases, movies will be pirated in greater numbers regardless if there are legal options or not. I say get ahead of the pirates and offer moviegoers legal means to stream new release movies. If this kills off the theater chains because nobody will go to the movies for just overpriced concessions, than so be it.
I don’t believe this will happen any time soon. Yes, it will happen someday. Movie theaters as we know them today are living on borrowed time.
The wall against shortening the theatrical window is crumbling. Movie theaters need to accept and embrace that they have a social meeting place environment, not just a theater that shows movies on a giant screen. Understand what they are selling is that most people cannot get (easily) this experience at home.
Yes, more affluent people can setup a theater in their mansion, outbuilding or converted garage, then supply it with an HD projector or giant screen LCD and buy a commercial popcorn maker. Then they need to invite family, friends and associates to come and sit in the theater to watch movies … face it, even with the money and physical space, the logistics aren’t there.
Also, there’s the whole point of leaving your house to go somewhere with your significant other. There is a world outside home and it is good to get out and explore it. Staying home is all well and good, but it’s not the same.
Where am I going with all of this? AMC has hired someone new in a “strategic” role. When I think of successful strategists at companies, I think of people that think outside the box.
Sometimes way outside the box. Bigger risk, bigger rewards.
“Mark is media-world savvy, has extensive strategy and business development experience and is highly regarded within the Hollywood community. He is the perfect person to help AMC continue to innovate and create opportunities that benefit our existing studio partners, emerging streaming power houses, our customers and our shareholders,” Aron said. He said Pearson’s “considerable experience in the SVOD space will greatly help AMC to create partnerships with streaming services including those from both established and emerging players.”
AMC, Regal and other big movie theaters need to sell what they have better. Perhaps this is what Mark Pearson is being hired to do at AMC(?) but my gut feeling is Mark will never see this blog or my words. He’ll probably be insulated by assistants who wouldn’t dare do anything except get him Starbucks, but maybe one of them — just maybe — will come across this post and others I’ve made about the need to shrink the theatrical window for their business future survival.
Get ahead of the beast. Do what the giant record companies didn’t feel they needed to do. Listen to your customers. Give them what they want.
Listen or go out of business.
And just so it’s clear: I have seen every wide release movie released since August 12, 2019 in theaters. Would I watch some of them through a streaming option if they were available that way through our unlimited membership? Yes. So, that would cannibalize some of their concession sales from me.
I’d be OK with a surcharge home convenience fee whenever I chose that because just getting in the car to drive to the theater and back costs at least some $$ gas $$. If I can stay home and stream movies for $2-4 each (in addition to my monthly unlimited fee), you bet I would. Am sure others would do so, too.
Sure, there are downsides to home streaming options. You can’t sell individual tickets in someone’s house. The stream comes in and a dozen or more people could see it for the single stream. Technology with facial recognition could help ensure that each person in the audience has a virtual “ticket” and thus that is one way to get around making sure the audience has all paid for a ticket, even if it’s streaming. This would work for small in-home theater audiences, but cumbersome for larger group settings.
The technology to do what I described exists. Would some custom programming be required? Sure. Would it be 100% fullproof and invulnerable to theft/cheat/scam/pirating? No.
The point I’m making is the studios are missing a huge business opportunity. They seem to be just waiting out this virus problem, hoping it will end soon and people will start going to the movies again in the same numbers when — RIGHT NOW — they could sell newer streaming movies inside the current 90 day theatrical window, especially in geographic areas like China and India where moviegoers that want to see these movies can’t.
If you have people wanting to buy your product and can’t, its time to roll up those sleeves and fill the need. Mark Pearson, hopefully, you’re listening.
The elephant in the world’s room at the moment is the coronavirus. The elephant in the theatrical world is the theatrical window.
Rather than delay indefinitely new movie releases, why not offer people in China the ability to stream movies at home (for a reasonable ticket price)?
I’ve been looking around for others suggesting this and it seems this idea is completely off the table. The more time that goes by that the theaters are closed, why can’t this be explored … at least temporarily?
Obviously, movies aren’t remotely important as protecting human lives, so our thoughts and prayers go out to anybody impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
We’re now going to see Hollywood getting hurt by China’s current theatrical shutdown, as the likes of Bad Boys For Life and Birds of Prey weren’t betting on a big Chinese payday. Even Dolittle was tracking for a $15 million debut when the coronavirus caused the theaters to shut down over what should have been a $1 billion-plus New Year’s weekend. Video game movies (Warcraft, Rampage, Ready Player One, etc.) have been big in China, and a continued blackout could be even more problematic for (much bigger-budgeted) Mulan and No Time to Die.
Collateral damage of a much lesser concern will be box office performance depending on the Chinese market where many theaters are currently shutdown, but there are other ways to release new movies — streaming — than on the big screen.
I don’t understand why streaming options won’t at least be considered, given if a lot more time goes on without a vaccine being available. Yes, I realize this movie industry protects the theatrical window from streaming for 90 days or so because they believe that once that is violated, the movie theater industry will crumble.
Streaming at Home vs. The Movie Theater Experience
I don’t think it’s quite that dramatic at this point for a few simple reasons:
Most people don’t have in-home theater quality TV and surround sound speaker setups
Most people don’t have a bunch of people to join them as they watch a movie on the big screen. There is a social element to watching movies in the theater that is difficult to view in a smaller room and/or alone
Popcorn. Sorry, microwave popcorn is not the same. Yes, you can emulate the movie theater popcorn setup affordably, but most people won’t and don’t have this available.
Date night outside the home. If you want to have date night at home, you can do that any night of the week, but it’s nice to leave home and do something fun with your spouse/significant other/friends away from your home.
Sure, all of these items except the last can be replicated with an in-home system and you don’t have to be Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos. On top of that, you can invite only those who don’t interrupt the movies at home. You can also pause the movies, eat whatever food you want and show movies whenever you want. There are many advantages to watching movies at home versus the theater, but I don’t think enough people have movie theater quality rooms in their homes.
Funny aside: 20 years ago we added a movie room to our home. I wired the walls with high quality sound in preparation for the ultimate surround sound system. For a few years we had the system and I watched movies in there, but it never really felt like the movie theater. I didn’t go the extra mile for the movie theater popcorn, but came about as close as possible 20 years ago to having this room of dreams. I’ve been a cutting edge tech guy in the past.
So, if you have someone like me who could have a room like this and doesn’t prioritize it over a movie theater, my guess is there are many lesser-tech folks who would rather just go out to, for no better reason than, go out.
Re-releasing the New Releases in Theaters
Maybe some of these movies can be re-released in theaters. Again, this is all a lesser concern to finding a cure and making sure human beings wherever they are in the world are protected from harm from this virus.
Informative Articles about Coronavirus
Admittedly, this is going outside the scope of this blog, but a wise person stays informed. I’ve collected some articles to learn more about coronavirus:
How the Coronavirus likely started with a bat [VOX.com]: “The story of the novel coronavirus is the story of HIV, of SARS, of Ebola, and even the measles. These are all diseases that have been introduced to humans — with deadly effects — via animals. And as humans encroach more and more into animal habitats, it’s believed these spillover events may only grow more common.”
Let’s hope that a vaccine is created soon and this outbreak is thoroughly contained. Regardless if it’s happening in America or abroad, viruses that infect any human being anywhere are a concern that we all should agree upon working together to contain and eliminate.
The current theatrical window is around 90 days. Look above at the current number of week new movies have been playing in the top 10 via Box Office Mojo. As of last weekend (10/11/2019) 7 of the top 20 movies with screening are making money.
I haven’t done a deep statistical analysis of the numbers, but it looks from casual observation that most movies drop somewhere between 30-60% in sales from week to week. Sure, there are some films that perform outside this window, so if we consider a movie opens with 20 million and has 50% loss of revenue the first four weeks, here would be the hypothetical performance:
Week #1: 20 million Week #2: 10 million Week #3: 5 million Week #4: 2.5 million = 37.5 million
Now if the theatrical window was reduced to four weeks, as being proposed, and streaming were allowed then what would be the impact if the theater continued to show the same movie? Would the dropoff increase to 60-70%? Or would it stay about the same roughly 50% dropoff?
That’s one question. The bigger question is how many movies even make it past the first four weeks still having screenings? 45 more movies out of the bottom 65 listed for a total of 52 out of 85 (61%) continue to have screenings beyond four weeks. What is the total revenue for the bottom 65 compared to the top 20? Movies ranked 21-85 only make $20 million versus the top 20 movies make $120 million.
The data is obvious: the top 20 movies make the most money and the freshest movies in release time make the most money. So, the amount of money a movie makes decays drastically — except in a small, few movies (like Lion King that has continued to make money over a couple months) — over the course of the first few weeks. After a month, the money most movies make from the box office is minimal.
While most sources we spoke to agree that a day-and-date release strategy is simply too drastic of a jump from this current system, they do think a three-to-four-week-after-release model could become a reality in the near future.
My wife and I really aren’t the average moviegoers. At least not since August 2019. I’ve seen over 31 movies in the last two months. That’s almost ten times the number of movies the average moviegoer in the US sees in a year. Prior to becoming Regal Unlimited Members, I still saw over 25 movies in the theater in 2018, which is still way more than the average of 3-4 movies per year.
We love seeing movies in the theater. I enjoy the movie theater experience and do not want to see it go away. I do want to see it evolve and change with the times. Waiting 90 days to stream movies doesn’t make any financial or logical sense any more. I’m going to see the movie the first four weeks, so it matters none to me personally whether or not the theatrical window is reduced, but it will allow people who don’t go to the movies very often to see a movie while there is still buzz through streaming.
Will some moviegoers wait for the streaming instead of going to the movie theater? This is Hollywood’s fear. I doubt the numbers will be significant. The people who want to see the movie as soon as it is released will still go to the theater. As long as there is some theatrical window — and I’m not advocating for same day in theater release to streaming — because I think that would hurt the movie theater traffic.
What do YOU think? Keep the theatrical window the way it already is (90 days)? Reduce to 30 days? Reduce to some other number of days? Or just leave it the way it is?