Comscore: Nearly 90% of Movie Theater Locations Open Globally

The latest box office figures from Comscore show nearly 90% of movie theater locations are now open globally for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“At Comscore, we´ve been privileged to witness firsthand how our partners in the global exhibition community have fought daily against the adversity of the pandemic and recovery has been remarkable,” Arturo Guillén, EVP and global managing director for Comscore Movies, said in a statement. “The latest box office openings and revenue show that throughout the world, consumers are clamoring to be back at the movies in their preferred theaters.”

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Films such as Universal’s F9, which has thus far generated more than $500 million worldwide, along with Paramount’s with A Quiet Place Part II, Disney’s Cruella, Warner Bros.’ The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway and Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, have collectively generated more than $1.3 billion in global box office revenue, according to Comscore.

“As the studios continue to ramp up the rollout of their most-anticipated films, audiences are showing up at their local cinemas to enjoy the big screen experience,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst, Comscore, said in a statement. “Blockbuster films shown in a movie theater become ‘must see’ events that no matter where you live, speak the international language of cinema to like-minded movie fans around the world.”

Discovery+ Launches Doc Series ‘Surge at Mount Sinai’ July 1

The non-fiction streaming service Discovery+ will exclusively bow the documentary series The Surge at Mount Sinai globally July 1.

The series, narrated by Jon Bon Jovi, with a track from Billie Eilish, follows three healthcare workers, two intimate patient journeys and experts from across the hospital in one of the world’s largest healthcare systems in the United States during an unprecedented global pandemic. With intimate access to those on the front lines, the film chronicles the race against time as New York City became the global epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak and New York was experiencing more than 350 deaths per day.

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“We are honored to shine a light on the heroes who came to the world’s rescue during an unprecedented global pandemic,” Lisa Holme, group SVP of content and commercial strategy at Discovery, said in a statement. “At Discovery+, we take pride in bringing our subscribers the best real-life stories and there is no more important story from the past year than following the trials of our healthcare workers.”

“This film explores the emotional journey of individuals who responded to the pandemic in unimaginable ways,” stated David A. Feinberg, SVP, chief marketing and communications officer at Mount Sinai Health System, dean of marketing and communications at Icahn School of Medicine, and co-executive producer on the documentary. “The heroism and innovative spirit by the scientific and medical community is awe-inspiring. The unprecedented challenges that we faced, the many lives that we saved, and the scientific breakthroughs that were identified gives the viewer a unique view of how we found our way through one of our darkest periods. We hope audiences will be moved and inspired by the bold actions taken by the heroes in this film and will come away understanding who we are as an organization. We are forever changed by this period, and our relentless pursuit of knowledge, understanding, and answers to the world’s most complex health challenges continues.”

“Our purpose for this film was to give the world a glimpse into what life was like for the heroic frontline workers during the height of the pandemic,” Peter Maiden, founder and CEO of production studio Convicts and executive producer on the documentary, said in a statement. “These individuals went above and beyond and dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and energy to saving the lives of NYC residents. Capturing their perseverance through the pandemic felt like the most important story that could be told during this time. We are grateful for Mount Sinai for the opportunity to engage with their staff and excited to partner with discovery+ to bring these stories to the forefront. We hope the film will inspire audiences to find the goodness in humanity, even in the dark, and to keep purpose at the heart of all they do.”

NPD: Online Represented 61% of Consumer Electronics Sales During Pandemic

Accelerated by temporary store closures and consumer hesitancy to shop in-store during the pandemic, online U.S. consumer technology hardware revenue share rose to 61% during the 12 months through March — up from 48% in the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

The Port Washington, N.Y.-based research company said online revenue grew 62%, up more than $36 billion. Online technology revenue share peaked at 68% in Q2 2020, during the height of lockdowns, and despite declining since then, remained above the long-term trend at 57% in Q1 2021. This was 7% above Q1 2020, and 14% above the pre-pandemic share in Q1 2019.

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Notebooks, TVs, tablets and headphones made up 43% of in-store sales, the same as the previous 12 months. Online sales of those categories saw a revenue share increase from 33% to 37%. NPD said online sales of notebooks, tablets, and headphones saw a dramatic shift from in-store, resulting in higher category e-commerce sales than in-store. TVs were the outlier, with the majority of revenue remaining in-store despite lockdowns and growth in online sales.

“While technology hardware sales have moved online at a more rapid pace than other general merchandise categories, the acceleration of this change, and the passing of the 50% milestone as a consequence of the pandemic, represents an important shift,” Stephen Baker, VP and industry advisor for the NPD Group, said in a statement.

The analyst said there remains substantial opportunity for in-store retailing and growth in buy-online-pick-up-in-store activities that need to be fulfilled by retailers at the local level.

“As evidenced by the continued dominance of TV buying in-store, physical presence benefits categories where product features cannot be demonstrated as effectively online,” Baker said in a statement.

While the growth in online sales presents challenges to physical retailers, much of the online revenue increase was actually a result of retailers selling through online channels or using their stores for e-commerce transactions.

In-store pick-ups accounted for 12% of all online consumer tech revenue through March, an increase of two percentage points from the previous period. In fact, NPD reported that when combining in-store pick-up transactions and normal product deliveries, sellers with a retail store presence saw their overall share of online sales increase 10% during the pandemic.

NBCUniversal Aiming for 7,000 Hours of Tokyo Olympics Coverage

Japan may only have a small minority of its citizens vaccinated, with a majority opposed to the country hosting next month’s delayed 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, but that’s not stopping NBCUniversal from pulling out all the stops to broadcast and stream the games.

The media giant June 7 announced it would broadcast and stream upwards of 7,000 hours of coverage throughout the quadrennial spectacle taking place July 23 to Aug. 8 across myriad properties, including NBC, USA, CNBC, NBCSN and Peacock.

“We are going to deliver the most comprehensive — and accessible — coverage for any sports event in history,” Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production, said in a statement. “The depth and breadth of our broadcasts will be unprecedented, showcasing once-in-a-generation athletes and storylines that will capture the incredible uniqueness of these games and our times.”

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NBCUniversal and corporate parent Comcast have spent billions of dollars securing U.S. distribution rights to the Olympics through 2032.

Despite press claiming most Japanese were opposed to holding the games due to the pandemic, a new poll from Yomiuri Shimbun claimed that 50% of respondents want the games to be held this summer, with another 48% saying the event should be canceled. The paper’s previous poll had found 59% of respondents opposed to the games taking place. The telephone poll, conducted over three days from June 4 to 6, found 26% of the 1,070 respondents want the Olympics to be held without spectators, while 24% favored venues with limited seating.

Study: One-Third of Consumers Believe Entertainment Habits Forever Changed by Pandemic

One-third of consumers believe entertainment habits will be forever changed by the pandemic, according to a new study.

The United Talent Agency study, “Forever Changed: Covid-19’s Lasting Impact on the Entertainment Industry,” also found 84% of consumers spent more time with entertainment during the pandemic with more than two-thirds (67%) saying they intend to spend more time with entertainment post COVID-19 than they did prior.

During the pandemic, seven in 10 became “Entertainment Explorers,” turning to new formats, platforms or genres, while half became “Fervent Fans,” more engaged with entertainment and strengthening their fandom.

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Compared to pre-pandemic behavior, one-third plan to subscribe to or use more entertainment platforms, a quarter plan to consume more genres/types of stories and a third plan to consume more international content or stories with diverse voices.

During the pandemic, a quarter started consuming an entertainment format that they didn’t prior and a third subscribed to or used more entertainment platforms than they would have otherwise.

Post-COVID, 71% said they plan to use multiple SVOD platforms, compared with 70% during the pandemic. More than half (56%) added at least one SVOD platform during the pandemic.

Among subscriptions started during the pandemic, Apple TV+ was the leader (48%) with Netflix (46%), Disney+ (46%), Hulu (39%) and Amazon Prime (34%) following, respectively. Among subscriptions used during the pandemic, Netflix led at 72% followed by Amazon Prime (54%), Disney+ (51%), Hulu (47%), HBO Max (36%), Apple TV+ (30%), Discovery+ (23%), Peacock (17%) and Paramount+ (12%), respectively.

The UTA-fielded study polled 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 18-54 in partnership with automated research company SightX.

MPI Media Group Sets Home, Theatrical Release Dates for ‘Scenes From an Empty Church’

MPI Media Group has announced a July 2 theatrical and digital release date for Scenes From an Empty Church, one week after the film’s world premiere on opening night of the Chattanooga Film Festival.

The film, from writer-director Onur Tukel, takes place during the pandemic in locked-down New York City. Two priests open their church doors to anyone seeking salvation.  From the commonplace to the truly metaphysical, their visitors reflect the full spectrum of personal crises of spirituality. The two priests learn valuable lessons about the importance of connection, empathy and open-mindedness.

The cast includes Kevin Corrigan (The Departed, TV’s “Ray Donovan”), Max Casella (Applesauce, Inside Llewyn Davis), and Thomas Jay Ryan (Equals, Fay Grim).

Cinemark Announces New Deals With Studios to Exhibit Movies Theatrically

Cinemark, the nation’s No. 3 movie theater chain, May 7 announced it has reached agreements to theatrically showcase films from five major studio partners across its U.S. screens.

This announcement builds upon the exhibitor’s November agreement with Universal Pictures and includes agreements with Warner Bros. Pictures, The Walt Disney Co., Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Collectively, the agreements secure a consistent supply of content and demonstrate a shared commitment to offering consumers the ultimate movie-viewing experience, with compelling content exhibited within the theatrical environment, according to Cinemark.

The agreements come on the heels of Cinemark inking distribution of Netflix original movies in an abbreviated theatrical window — the first for the streamer. Cinemark isn’t divulging specifics on the studio deals, citing “unique attributes” specific to each studio that mutually benefits both parties.

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With many studios also operating direct-to-consumer distribution through streaming and premium VOD, exhibitors are having to re-visit legacy theatrical window agreements to remake them to better reflect the changing consumer access to screen entertainment.

“In our ongoing efforts to maximize attendance and box office during the pandemic and beyond, our goal is to provide the widest range of content with terms that are in the best long-term interests of Cinemark, our studio partners and moviegoers,” CEO Mark Zoradi said in a statement. “We are pleased with these recent developments and are confident we are taking positive steps toward reigniting theatrical exhibition and evolving the industry for a post-pandemic landscape.”

The new distribution agreements come as Cinemark attempts to claw its way out of a financial hole caused by the pandemic. The chain said it attracted 7.7 million moviegoers and $114.5 million in revenue in the first quarter (ended March 31). That compared with $543.6 million in revenue during the previous-year period. Its net loss ballooned to $208.2 million, compared with a loss of $59.6 million in the previous year period.

AMC Theater Chain Draws 6.8 Million Q1 Moviegoers, Narrows Loss

AMC Entertainment, parent of the world’s largest theatrical chain, AMC Theatres, May 6 reported that 6.8 million moviegoers worldwide frequented its screens in the first quarter (ended March 31). While that’s a 89% drop from 60+ million moviegoers in the same quarter a year ago, it’s a positive re-start for a company that has had scant new movie releases, and many observers left for dead during the height of the pandemic.

Adam Aron

Operating at 15% to 60% seating capacity across 585 domestic theaters, AMC operated an additional 97 international leased and partnership theaters, with limited seating capacities, representing approximately 27% of international theaters.

Revenue plummeted 84% to $148.3 million, from $941 million in the previous-year period. Net loss narrowed to $567.2 million from more than $2.1 billion a year ago.

“We finally can now say that we are looking at an increasingly favorable environment for moviegoing and for AMC as a company over the coming few months,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “This is the result of a successful and steadily growing vaccination program in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East — especially so across the United States.”

Over the past five months, AMC has raised around $2 billion in fresh equity and debt capital, including the conversion of $600 million of convertible notes into equity at a price of $13.51 per share. Over the past 13 months, AMC raised approximately $2.9 billion of cash proceeds from new debt and
equity capital, secured $1.2 billion of concessions from lenders and landlords, obtained more than $150 million of assistance from European governments, and generated more than $80 million from asset sales.

“Taken together, we have made well more than $4 billion of progress from our implementing a myriad of capital actions to help us make it through this global storm,” Aron said.

Paramount Ups Q1 Licensing Revenue as Theatrical Revenue Craters

With Paramount Pictures generating a record low $1 million in revenue in the first quarter (ended March 31), the studio is offsetting ongoing pandemic-related box office declines by licensing content to Paramount+ and other streaming platforms.

Paramount, which had no releases in the quarter, generated $167 million in theatrical revenue during the previous-year period prior to the pandemic.

As a result, the studio bumped up by nearly 55% “licensing and other” segment revenue to $996 million, from $644 million in the previous-year period. The unit now includes Paramount Home Entertainment revenue from the sales and rental of movies. The home entertainment distributor had revenue of $174 million in the previous-year period.

“Licensing and other” revenue increased in large part from the distribution of content to Paramount+ and third parties, as well as revenue from the licensing of Miramax movies.

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Adjusted pre-tax earnings increased $177 million primarily due to higher licensing revenue compared to the prior-year period, which included higher distribution costs associated with theatrical releases during the first quarter of 2020 prior to the pandemic.

The studio’s last major theatrical hits included Sonic the Hedgehog, which generated $319 million worldwide in 2020, and Bumblebee, with $468 million following its box office debut on Dec. 19, 2018.

Report: 83% of Consumers Plan to Maintain, Increase Home Entertainment Spending

More than a year after the start of the  COVID-19 crisis, a majority of consumers are beginning to turn the page on the pandemic as vaccinations increase and a sense of normalcy returns, according to new data from Tremor Video.

Conducted in March and comprised of surveys with a nationally representative sample of 893 respondents in the United States, the research found that 56% of consumers feel optimistic about the year ahead and 60% predict a return toward normality within the year.

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According to the data, 83% of consumers plan to either maintain or increase their current spend levels when returning to a more normal life, on average across categories. Consumers report that they plan to either maintain or increase their spending at the highest rates for the following categories: groceries (92%), beauty & personal care (86%), consumer electronics (84%), home & garden (84%) and home entertainment (83%).

With this likely increase in spending comes promising news for brands with brick-and-mortar dimensions of their businesses, as 84% of consumers plan on shopping in-person during the year, with 29% reporting that they will do all of their shopping in-person and 23% reporting that they will do most of their shopping in-person with some online shopping.

Although the research suggests that consumers are eager to resume their pre-COVID activities, their enthusiasm for this return to more normal lifestyles does not necessarily mean that their rates of TV engagement will decline as a result. In fact, most consumers are likely to engage with connected TVs at comparable or higher rates as the pandemic dissipates. Over the next six months, 86% of consumers plan to watch live TV at the same or increased rates, 88% plan to watch the same or higher amounts subscription-based VOD, and 81% plan to maintain or increase their viewing of ad-supported VOD.

“After a long period of being homebound, consumers are feeling positive about the future, as they look to resume activities like dining out, traveling and in-store shopping, all of which should give advertisers a renewed sense of confidence in the months ahead,” Terence Scroope, VP of media insights and analytics at Tremor Video, said in a statement. “In parallel, our study suggests that consumers plan to increase their time with CTV content, reinforcing just how essential the medium will continue to be for advertisers as they look to fine-tune their 2021 media strategies.”

Report findings include that since March 2020, TV viewing has spiked considerably, with 61% of consumers saying they have watched more TV than before the outbreak of the pandemic. Over the next six months, increased engagement with both paid and free TV streaming will be most pronounced among younger age demos (18-44s) and higher income ($100,000 or more, annually) demos

Consumers report that they will be more supportive of local businesses with most (59%) planning to continue shopping locally. Most (58%) consumers have adopted new behaviors thanks to increased time shopping online during COVID; this is especially prevalent among the 18-34 age group.