Regal will begin opening its U.S. theatrical locations Aug. 21 “in response to the recent changes in the upcoming theatrical release schedule,” according to parent company Cineworld.
The theater chain had previously announced it would open July 10.
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, opening in the United States Sept. 3, will headline new films coming to the theaters such as Unhinged,Greenland and Broken Hearts Gallery, along with the film slate scheduled to release throughout the remainder of 2020, including Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, No Time to Die, Soul and The King’s Man, according to the company.
“Welcoming theatergoers back to our cinemas will be a celebration for not only our team and our industry, but most importantly for the fans who have been anxiously awaiting the year’s upcoming releases,” Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld, said in a statement. “With the health and safety of our staff, customers and communities as our top priority, we are happy to invite audiences to return to the timeless theatrical experience that we have all dearly missed.”
Regal theaters will enforce previously announced health and safety measures that adhere to the latest CDC and public health guidelines, including sanitization procedures, new social distancing protocols, and mandatory mask policies for Regal employees and guests, according to a press release.
When Paramount Home Entertainment on March 9 announced the launch of its “Paramount Presents” line to showcase films from the studio’s extensive library, marketing chief Vincent Marcais had no idea how prophetic the move would prove to be.
Just two days later, on March 11, the World Health Organization declared a global COVID-19 pandemic, and over the ensuing days governments the world over issued stay-at-home mandates and ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses.
Movie theaters were among the businesses that suddenly went dark, which meant box office revenues quickly dropped to near zero. On top of that, productions were halted, which meant that not only were there no new movies in theaters, there were no more new movies, period, at least for the foreseeable future.
Home entertainment, thanks to 90-day windows, got a three-month reprieve — as well as an extra crop of high-profile films released digitally to home audiences, at a premium price, due to the closure of theaters. But by mid-June, studio home entertainment divisions were running out of fresh new theatrical product, which had been their lifeblood since the home video business began more than 40 years ago.
So how are the home entertainment divisions of the major studios keeping the lights on?
At Paramount, says Marcais, EVP of marketing, the studio has been filling the void primarily with catalog product from its rich library of film and TV content, buoyed by the launch of the Paramount Presents line.
“The library is at the core of what we do here at Paramount,” Marcais says, noting that since the end of March weekly catalog sales have been double what they used to be.
“Catalog has always been important, but now it’s more important to us than ever,” adds Alanna Powers, SVP of brand marketing, catalog, at Paramount Home Entertainment. “We’re very well positioned to meet demand as new releases continue to dry up.”
With no fresh new theatricals in the pipeline, she says, “we have a very robust release strategy for our library. We continue to explore things like anniversary efforts, or leaning into historical dates or holidays, and we’re also looking at 4K Ultra HD, digging in and looking at opportunities.”
On the digital side, Paramount works in tandem with digital retailers such as FandangoNow, Apple and Vudu to create curated promotions that are marketed primarily through Instagram and other social media channels, such as a collection of family films or series of dancing and singing movies that included Grease and Dreamgirls.
On the physical media side, the emphasis is on finding classic films from the vaults that have never before been released on Blu-ray Disc, such as Roman Holiday, and on the “Paramount Presents” Line — both of which target collectors.
The “Paramount Presents” line of Blu-ray Discs kicked off with the April 21 release of Fatal Attraction; 1958’s acclaimed Elvis Presley drama KingCreole; and director Alfred Hitchcock’s romantic thriller To Catch a Thief, which celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. Subsequent waves have been released monthly. All films in the “Paramount Presents” line are remastered and sent to Blu-ray in collectible packaging that includes a foldout image of the original movie poster and interior artwork featuring key movie moments.
“This new label is really a labor of love,” Marcais says. “We’re like a publishing company, in that we take a very diverse group of movies from our library and we publish, or republish, them with the mindset of a really small shop where the focus is on quality.”
Like films in the vaunted Criterion Collection, Marcais says, “Paramount Presents” titles get the VIP treatment. “We go back to the filmmakers and find the best master and really work on the quality of the image,” he says. “We improve everything and then make these films available to the most important people for us — the core Blu-ray Disc fans.”
Paramount may have enjoyed the luck of the draw with the launch of its “Paramount Presents” line — as well as the already-scheduled May release of a special 35th anniversary edition of Top Gun — but other studios are reporting similar upticks in catalog sales, both on disc and digitally.
“From the outset of this unprecedented period, we’ve been seeing a broad lift across catalog,” says Hilary Hoffman, EVP of global marketing, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has one of the biggest catalogs of any studio, buoyed by MGM, HBO and Turner product. EVP of sales Mike Takac says that during the first six weeks of the pandemic, when shelter-in-place orders were in place and businesses were closed, sales of theatrical catalog titles doubled.
“The COVID-19 bump was massive,” Takac says. “So now it becomes a matter of trying to predict how much of it will fall off as restrictions ease, and no one knows. But the second quarter was historic — we hadn’t seen such robust catalog sales in years.”
For Lionsgate, home entertainment’s moment in the sun is an ongoing thing. Home entertainment packaged media/digital movies at the studio represented 42.2% of the Motion Picture segment’s $1.67 billion revenue for the fiscal year ended March 31 — twice the percentage of theatrical, according to the company’s 10K fiscal filing, which was released May 27. The tally is up 14.1% from revenue of $1.46 billion in fiscal 2019.
“Home entertainment has always been, and will continue to be, a huge priority for the company,” says Adam Frank, Lionsgate’s SVP of worldwide digital sales and distribution.
He says Lionsgate is in a strong competitive position because of the strength of its theatrical titles and the diversity of its slate, including a longstanding tradition of multi-platform releases. Between box office blockbusters such as the “John Wick,” “Hunger Games” and “Twilight” franchises and original hits such as Knives Out and La La Land, he says, Lionsgate has always filled in the gaps with a diverse portfolio of movies, some of which are released simultaneously across theaters and other platforms. With movie theaters closed, he says, films such as Arkansas and Survive the Night, aimed at home audiences, are posting “amazing results — they’re really outperforming our expectations and ranking in the upper echelon of multi-platform release performance, industry-wide.”
“We were well prepared,” he adds, “and we still have a number of those films that we have not yet released.”
Lionsgate also has a vast 17,000-title film and television catalog that studio marketers routinely mine in partnership with digital retailers, Frank says.
“We have always had an unrivaled dedication to our catalog,” he says. “We are coming off a record $600 million year in library revenue for our company, and we are now seeing weekly run rates up nearly 100% in recent months compared to before shelter-at-home orders.”
Editor’s Note: This is part one in a four-part series, “Restocking the Shelves: With No Theatrical Releases, Studio Home Entertainment Marketers are Getting Creative.” The complete story will be available in the July print and digital editions of ‘Media Play News.’
Shorter theatrical windows could lead to lower home video revenues, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) warns.
The trade group in an April 15 news release cited data from an Ernst & Young study it commissioned that examines the effect of the length of the theatrical window on revenues in the home, in theaters, and overall.
The study found that a 1% longer window between a film’s theatrical opening and its availability for home viewing could boost home video sales by $56,000.
The study comes as studios have been accelerating the home release of films to counter movie theater closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. The most pronounced example was Trolls World Tour, which was released digitally at a premium “rental” price of $19.99 the same day it was supposed to open in theaters.
NATO warned that such early release patterns should be temporary, until the pandemic subsides and theaters reopen, lest studios leave money on the table.
“With movie theaters shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, studios have accelerated home release for some titles that were already in theatrical release when the industry shut down,” NATO said in the press release. “Without theaters available, the release window was temporarily irrelevant for those movies. These unique circumstances, however, do not signal a change to the theatrical release model.”
NATO noted that three films unreleased at the time of the shutdown were released digitally, directly to home audiences. “Yet the vast majority of theatrical releases scheduled from March through June have been rescheduled for theatrical release — 37 of them, with six more delayed with no set release date — rather than rushed to the home,” NATO said. “Studios clearly believe it is in their financial interest to have exclusive theatrical releases.”
NATO said the findings of the new Ernst & Young study “are significant, as shrinking revenues in the home have put pressure on distributors to find a way to boost the fortunes of a home segment in secular decline. Shrinking the length of the theatrical release window has been the mechanism most often cited as a means to that end. This study finds that shorter release windows not only damage theatrical revenues — as expected — they damage home revenues as well.”
NATO said the study also finds that “without controlling for the influence of other variables, the length of theatrical run is more highly correlated to home sales than to box office sales.”
Total home video transactional revenue slipped 30% between 2012 and 2017, the period of the study, NATO said, citing DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group numbers. “The study finds the average percentage of transactional home revenue to total combined home and theatrical revenue per movie has declined even more — 32% — from 40% to 27% over the same period,” NATO said.
In the timeline of the coronavirus pandemic, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea were among the first to feel the effects of social distancing and quarantining.
The regions are now the first to see a possible light at the end of the tunnel. Nielsen, which released new data showing that, similarly to the United States, in-home media consumption increased about 60% during the crisis, and from an advertising perspective, brands and agencies will need to both adjust which products are being marketed, as well as the tone in which they’re delivering their messages to consumers.
During the first three weeks of the pandemic, Taiwan’s TV audience grew by 1 million viewers, for a total viewing population of approximately 21 million. News channels and programs were the primary beneficiaries of the increased penetration, followed by children’s programming.
In Hong Kong, as more consumers stayed home, Nielsen found that TV ratings for all day and all time periods increased by 43% in February compared with the same time period in 2019, while primetime ratings during the same period increased by 44%.
“The impact of COVID-19 is absolutely substantial,” said David Yeung, VP of marketing communications, consumer group, at HKT Limited, said in a statement. “Almost all industries have been badly hit, with lots of closure for retail outlets, restaurants, etc. The key to survival is to adapt to the changing business environment very quickly and to ensure threats are turned into opportunities by tapping into technology and data.”
While China’s traditional communist-driven social safety nets have been challenged by a rising middle class and increased dependence on commerce with the West, As Zod Fang, head of GroupM Knowledge, GroupM China, said the government is increasing new policies to stimulate the economy and consumer consumption as the region emerges from the pandemic.
“This will lead to greater demand,” Fang said. “Therefore, brands need to get prepared. Work with agencies to have an overall plan including sourcing, logistics, marketing and sales to fully seize the opportunity.”
China did try to jumpstart the domestic theatrical market on March 24 in Shanghai — a move it quickly reversed, shuttering 600 theaters with no explanation given.
The China Film Group, the state-backed distributor that controls all movie release dates in the country, had reportedly planned to re-release box office hits Wolf Warrior 2 and The Wandering Earth, in addition Disney/Marvel The Avengers franchise movies.
Netflix March 23 announced a new slate of Korean shows — from reality to crime and sci-fi to romance and dramas, among others. The SVOD pioneer, which has long embraced South Korean content, next month (April 10) will bow the first Korean language original movie, Time to Hunt, since the 2017 release of Okja.
“From K-pop and K-food, to K-zombie and K-content, we’ve seen how much people in different parts of the world love Korean cultures and stories,” Minyoung Kim, VPt of Korean content at Netflix, said in a statement. “By making it easy for people to watch films and shows from other countries, we can help them build empathy and develop a shared understanding of the world”.
Last year, Netflix’s “Crash Landing on You,” a romance about a couple from the two Koreas (North and South) showed the popularity of K-content making the top 10 list in the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.
Earlier this month Netflix began streaming the second season of “Kingdom.” The K-zombie series has again become one of the Top 10 titles in almost every Asian country, according to Netflix.
New Content includes police drama “Rugal,” premiering March 28 in Korea/APAC/all English speaking countries/Latin America; and on May 24 in Japan and the rest of the world. Main cast members include Choi Jin-hyuk and Park Sung-woong.
“Extracurricular,” about a group of high school students who have chosen a life of crime,” streams on April 29, starring Kim Dong-hee, Jung Da-bin, Park Joo-hyun.
“The King: Eternal Monarch” is a romantic fantasy drama that revolves around relationships of the people from two parallel universes. Cast includes Lee Min-ho, Kim Go-eun, Woo Do-hwan, Kim Kyung-nam, Jung Eun-chae.
“It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” is about an unusual romance between two people who end up healing each other’s emotional and psychological wounds. The show premiers in June starring Kim Soo-hyun and Seo Ye-ji, among others.
Netflix series in suspended production include: “Twogether,” featuring two top celebrities from Seoul and Taipei who go on a trip to several cities in Asia to meet their fans and become friends. Cast: Lee Seung-gi, Jasper Liu.
In “The School Nurse Files,” a newly appointed high school nurse discovers secrets and mysteries with her supernatural abilities of chasing ghosts. Cast: Jung Yu-mi, Nam Joo-hyuk.
“Sweet Home,” about a reclusive high school student, moves into an old apartment complex after the tragic death of his entire family. He soon realizes complex residents, including himself, are trapped and surrounded by monsters in various forms of distorted human desires, which are about to sweep away mankind. Cast include Song Kang, Lee Jin-wook, Lee Si-young.
Currently streaming: “Itaewon Class,” about a group of youths, held together by their mutual stubbornness and bravado, start a “cool” revolt against an irrational world.
“Hyena,” about a jaded female lawyer willing to use every last sexy trick in the book to make money, no matter how evil the means can be. Other titles include, “Hi Bye, Mama!,” “Hospital Playlist,” “Kingdom S2” and “My Holo Love.”
Online movie/TV database IMDb.com has announced the Top 10 movies and TV shows of 2019, as well as the most anticipated movies and TV shows of 2020.
Rather than base its rankings on statistical samplings or critic reviews, Amazon-owned IMDb determines its list by the actual page views of the more than 200 million monthly visitors to the website. The data is derived from the subscription-based IMDbPro movie and TV rankings, which are updated weekly throughout the year.
IMDb Top 10 Movies of 2019 Joker (Warner Bros.) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony Pictures) Avengers: Endgame (Disney/Marvel) Captain Marvel (Disney/Marvel) It: Chapter Two (Warner Bros.) The Lion King (Disney) Spider-Man: Far From Home (Sony Pictures) Alita: Battle Angel (Disney/Fox) Aladdin (Disney) Us (Universal Pictures)
IMDb Top 10 TV Shows of 2019
“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“The Umbrella Academy” (Netflix)
“The Boys” (Amazon Prime Video)
“Black Mirror” (Netflix)
“The Walking Dead” (AMC Network)
“Peaky Blinders” (Netflix)
“Sex Education” (Netflix)
IMDb Most Anticipated Movies of 2020 Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (Warner Bros.) Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount Pictures) Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures) No Time to Die (MGM) Black Widow (Disney/Marvel) Mulan (Disney) Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros.) Dune (Warner Bros.) The King’s Man (Disney/Fox) Fast & Furious 9 (Universal Pictures)
IMDb Most Anticipated New TV Shows of 2020
“Star Trek: Picard” (CBS All Access)
“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (Disney+)
“The New Pope” (HBO)
“The Walking Dead: World Beyond” (AMC Network)
“The Stand” (CBS All Access)
“The Outsider” (HBO)
“Stargirl” (DC Universe, The CW)
“Hunters” (Amazon Prime Video)
“Katy Keene” (The CW)
For comparison purposes, the IMDb 2018 year-end Top 10 lists are available here: www.imdb.com/best-of/2018.
The special promotion, which requires access to a 4K-compatible television, includes 222 titles, including Shazam!, John Wick 3, Bumblebee, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Venom, Long Shot and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, among others.
“We are very happy to be taking this exciting step in offering our members in the Nordics more local content, as well as bring more great content from the Nordic region to our global members,” Lina Brouneus, director of licensing and co-productions for Netflix in Northern Europe, said in a statement.
Norway is home to Netflix’s first original production, “Lilyhammer,” starring Steven Van Zandt, which began streaming in 2012.
Last year, Netflix inked a deal with Danish producer Kim Magnusson for original movies from the Nordic region.
“These three films are all unique in their own way: strong genre films with engaging plot lines that are driven by talented creatives,” Brouneus said. “Together they form a strong package of different genres which will showcase the versatility and high quality of Nordic movies.”
Indeed, Netflix pioneered binge viewing making all episodes of a series available at launch, launched the first recommendation software and ushered in Q&A fiscal webcasts devoid of perfunctory balance sheet readings.
The concept has produced blowback from some content holders, including longtime Netflix fans such as director Judd Apatow and “Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul.
“No @Netflix no. Don’t make me have to call every director and show creator on Earth to fight you on this. Save me the time. I will win but it will take a ton of time. Don’t fuck with our timing. We give you nice things. Leave them as they were intended to be seen,” Apatow tweeted.
Netflix contends the app helps viewers seeking to consume longer form content on the go.
“As with any test, it may not become a permanent feature on Netflix,” said the company.
Actor Paul hopes so.
“There is NO Way Netflix will move forward with this,” he tweeted. “That would mean they are completely taking control of everyone else’s art and destroying it. Netflix is far better than that. Am I right Netflix?”
Subscription theatrical movie service MoviePass will shut down Sept. 14 at 8 a.m. (EST), according to a letter from CEO Mitch Lowe on the site.
“Over the past several months, MoviePass worked hard to relaunch its groundbreaking subscription service and recapitalize the company,” he wrote. “While we were able to relaunch the service for some of our subscribers with an improved technology platform, our efforts to recapitalize the company have not been successful to date.”
He wrote that subscriptions will be refunded.
“MoviePass will be providing subscribers with appropriate refunds for their period of service already paid for,” he wrote. “Subscribers will not need to request a refund or contact MoviePass customer service to receive a refund. Subscribers will not be charged during the service interruption.”