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.”

Redbox Entertainment Acquires ‘The Last Son’

Redbox Entertainment has acquired North American distribution rights to The Last Son.

The film stars Sam Worthington, Colson Baker, Thomas Jane and Heather Graham, with Tim Sutton (Donnybrook) directing from a Black List script by Greg Johnson.

The film will be released simultaneously in theaters and On Demand later this year.

Set in the Sierra Nevada in the late 19th century, The Last Son centers on Isaac LeMay (Worthington), a murderous outlaw cursed by a terrible prophecy, hunting down his offspring to prevent his own murder before targeting his son Cal (Baker). With bounty hunters and the enigmatic U.S. Officer Solomon (Jane) on their tail, all are set on a collision course toward a brutal game of cat-and-mouse.

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The Last Son was filmed in Montana late last year and is currently in post-production.

“With an outstanding ensemble cast, talented director, and an incredible story, we’re excited to be a part of this stellar production,” Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox, said in a statement.

“We are pleased to be partnering with Redbox on the release of the picture; they have been a part of The Last Son team since the beginning,” added Andre Relis, CEO of VMI Worldwide.

The Last Son is the latest in a string of acquisitions from Redbox that includes Capone (Tom Hardy), Shadow in the Cloud (Chloë Grace Moretz and Nick Robinson), SAS: Red Notice (Sam Heughan and Ruby Rose), and American Traitor: The True Story of Axis Sally (Al Pacino and Meadow Williams). It also comes on the heels of Redbox’s venture with “John Wick” producer Basil Iwanyk, to form Asbury Park Pictures, which is programming a slate of high-concept action and thriller films over the next few years.

The deal was negotiated by Marc Danon, head of original content for Redbox Entertainment, and J.D. Beaufils and Andre Relis of VMI Worldwide.

‘Rollers’ Coming to Theaters and VOD June 18 From Level 33

The indie comedic drama Rollers will come out in theaters and on VOD June 18 from Level 33 Entertainment.

Written and directed by Isaiah Smallman, the film follows Rufus Paisley, a closet alcoholic with only one thing left to live for, the concert venue Rollers. To keep it alive, he’s drained every ounce of personal capital he’s got. Now the historic venue, once owned by his parents, is in trouble and he’s running out of ways to save it, and himself.

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The film stars Johnny Ray Gill, Kevin Bigley, Kate Cobb, Vicky Jeudy, Joel Allen, Meredith Thomas, Spencer Rayshon Stevenson, Karina Bonnefil, John W. Lawson, Leslie A. Jones, Isaiah Smallman, Courtney Dietz and Grant Withington.

The film features music from Ural Thomas & The Pain, Charles Jones and Barbara Howard.

Mama Bear Studios launched a podcast tracking the making of Rollers, a weekly comedy conversation show hosted by Smallman and Jon Schimpf (an industry insider). The show features interviews with other successful industry players including some of the cast and crew of Rollers.

ROLLERS trailer from Level 33 Entertainment on Vimeo.

 

Moviegoer Poll: 96% Plan to See Multiple Movies in Theaters This Summer

In a recent poll of moviegoers, 96% of those surveyed said they plan to see multiple movies in theaters this summer, with 64% specifying they will see five movies or more in theaters, 91% feeling that blockbusters must be seen on the big screen, and 87% saying the moviegoing experience cannot be duplicated at home.

That’s according to a Fandango poll of more than 4,000 of its ticket buyers May 3-23, 2021. Among the study’s participants, all had purchased movie tickets at least one time in the past 12 months on Fandango, with 85% having gone to the movies within the last three months.

The top five summer movies respondents most wanted to see on the big screen were:

  1. Black Widow — opening July 9
  2. A Quiet Place Part II — opening May 28
  3. F9 (Fast & Furious 9) — opening June 25
  4. The Suicide Squad— opening Aug. 6
  5. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — opening Sept 3

 

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Respondents were overwhelmingly positive about their theatrical experiences, with 93% saying they were satisfied with their return to theaters and 87% saying the theaters did a great job making them feel safe.

Among those polled, 70% said they were vaccinated, with another 13% saying they were planning to get vaccinated. Also, 78% found their fellow moviegoers were more attentive than usual, with a decreased amount of texting and talking in the theater.

“Moviegoing has taken a hard hit during the pandemic, but theater chains have done an excellent job implementing new safety features so that moviegoers can return to the cinema with confidence,” Fandango chief commercial officer Kevin Shepela, said in a statement. “Our study shows that exhibitors’ hard work has paid off, with moviegoers thrilled to be back in theaters and excited for summer movie season.”

According to the Fandango study, 76% of moviegoers said theater safety policies, such as social distance seating, enhanced cleaning measures and contactless ticketing, made their experience more enjoyable, with 86% saying they were also comfortable ordering concessions. More than three-fourths (77%) said they would be comfortable inside the auditorium when capacity increases to 100%.

The Home Team Scores

The year 2020 will go down in the history books as the year of COVID-19, a once-in-a-century pandemic that shut down the nation – the world – until scientists could figure out exactly what the hell was going on.

It was also the year when all entertainment became home entertainment. With theaters dark, studios pivoted to premium video-on-demand (PVOD) – which in reality is nothing more than a higher-priced home window – to give consumers an alternative venue to watch their first-run movies.

It’s still too soon to talk definitively about lasting changes brought on by the pandemic. But there are certainly some good, solid, educated guesses that can be made.

First and foremost, the hallowed three-month theatrical window is gone. Out the door. Kaput. It’s been outdated for years; even the biggest theatrical blockbusters typically run out of steam after three or four weeks on the big screen, and there’s no reason in the world other windows have been kept shut for such a long period of time.

As a result, PVOD is not going to go away with the virus. When movie theaters fully reopen, which hopefully won’t be too much longer, they’re still going to be sharing the wealth with other platforms with such familiar acronyms as PVOD, PEST (I never did like that one!), and, of course, SVOD. We must remember that in the wake of the World Health Organization’s March 2020 declaration of a global pandemic, all movies did not go the PVOD route. Several big films were sold to Netflix, beginning with Paramount’s romantic comedy The Lovebirds, the first theatrically canceled film to go straight to a third-party streaming service. And then later in the year came the stunning, and disruptive, announcement by WarnerMedia that its entire 2021 theatrical slate would be released simultaneously to its upstart streaming service, HBO Max, which clearly needed (and still needs) a boost.

Regardless, the common denominator for all these acronyms is home viewing. And that means home entertainment – which Media Play News had a big role in redefining several years back as any filmed content available for on-demand viewing by the consumer,  regardless of whether it was bought or rented on disc or digital or streamed over the Internet – will remain the dominant way people will consume entertainment even when the pandemic is just a distant memory.

As our third annual marketing issue shows,  studios during the pandemic year of 2020 epitomized the expression, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” With theaters out of the picture (literally as well as figuratively), marketing shifted toward home audiences and, invariably, campaigns were either started or completely run by home entertainment marketers.

They were no longer playing second fiddle to their theatrical counterparts; they took the lead and saved what could have been a catastrophic year by eventizing PVOD releases and aggressively mining their catalogs for anniversary and other promotional opportunities.

At several studios, home entertainment marketing teams have been merged with their theatrical and, in some cases, television counterparts to create hybrid marketing organizations geared to the new reality of multi-window, multi-platform releases.

But let’s never forget who got the proverbial ball rolling. When Hollywood was down, it was the home team that stepped up to the plate.

Survey: Despite Box Office Comeback, Reluctance to Return to Theaters Grows

People are less willing to watch new movies in theaters than they were a year ago, despite the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and an accelerated schedule of big new feature films headed for the big screen.

So says a new survey by Whip Media, which attributed the reluctance to continuing concerns about health, the surge in subscription streaming, and the emergence of PVOD.

In the survey, twice as many people said they will see movies in theaters less often than they did in a similar survey a year ago. Among respondents who said they intend to return to theaters in 2021, 24% of respondents said they plan to go to the theater less often, versus 12% in a 2020 survey.

Also, in the 2021 survey, 68% said they plan to go to the movies with the same frequency as before the pandemic, compared with 80% in 2020.

Among respondents who said they will go to the theater less:

  • 67% said the top reason was they can get the movies they like on streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, Disney+). This is 21% higher than when asked the same question in 2020.
  • 40% in 2021 said they can watch the movie as a PVOD release, versus 30% in 2020.
  • 52% said they will go less as they are concerned about health and safety (2021) vs. 69% in 2020.

 

The survey also found that families have fueled a 35% growth in PVOD over the past year.

Meanwhile, the survey asked consumers (who said they are interested in seeing a particular movie) where they preferred to watch it. Marvel’s Black Widow was the movie that viewers most wanted to see in the theater, rather than at home, with 68% of those surveyed saying they would prefer to watch it in the theater versus 32% who plan to watch it at home. The film was followed in the survey by another Marvel Comics-based film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, with 64% of those surveyed preferring to see it in the theater. That movie was followed in the survey by F9 (63% theatrical preference), Suicide Squad (58%) and A Quiet Place II (55%) as the movies viewers most want to see in theaters.

Meanwhile, the top titles in the survey that consumers said they plan to watch at home are family-oriented ones with Space Jam: A New Legacy (69%), Cruella (64%), and Jungle Cruise (61%) topping that list.

Overall, 90% of respondents said they plan to return to the movies, and 28% are already going or ready to go as soon as theaters nearby open.

Whip Media polled U.S. 1,904 consumers April 28-29, 2021, and 6,000 April 29-30, 2020. Results were balanced to reflect U.S. census population gender and age (13-54).

‘Top Gun’ Flying Back to Theaters for 35th

The Tom Cruise action classic Top Gun will land at more than 150 Dolby Cinemas at AMC across the country for an exclusive one-week engagement beginning May 13.

Newly remastered, the film will be presented with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos audio.

The limited theatrical release is timed to Top Gun Day on May 13, as well as the 35th anniversary of the film, which was originally released on May 16, 1986.

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The film, starring Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards,  is available now on digital, 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray, with more than four hours of bonus content, including a featurette that explores the film’s legacy and enduring popularity through interviews with Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and members of the cast of the new film Top Gun: Maverick.

The story of an elite group of pilots competing to earn the title of “Top Gun” ultimately earned a worldwide box office of more than $350 million.

Gravitas Ventures Acquires ‘Queen Bees,’ Coming to Theaters and On Demand June 11

Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights from Arclight Films to distribute the dramatic comedy Queen Bees. The film will come out in theaters and on demand June 11.

The Astute Films production, directed by Michael Lembeck, stars Ellen Burstyn, James Caan, Ann-Margret, Jane Curtin, Christopher Lloyd, Loretta Devine, Elizabeth Mitchell and French Stewart.

In the film, while her house undergoes repairs, a fiercely independent senior Helen (Burstyn) moves into a nearby retirement community — just temporarily. Once behind the doors of Pine Grove Senior Community, she encounters lusty widows, cutthroat bridge tournaments and a hotbed of bullying “mean girls” the likes of which she hasn’t encountered since high school, all of which leaves her yearning for the solitude of home. But somewhere between flower arranging and water aerobics Helen discovers that it’s never too late to make new friends and perhaps even find a new love.

A heartwarming and humorous look at life’s second act, Queen Bees (previously known as At Last) is inspired by the true story of producer Harrison Powell’s own grandmother’s second chance at love after moving into a retirement community as a widow.

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“As a witness to the joy that finding love at 80 can bring, we knew it was a film we wanted to make and the amazing cast really brought it to life,” producer Dominique Telson said in a statement.

Queen Bees is a feast for the heart,” Arclight Films’ chairman Gary Hamilton said in a statement. “The astounding performances of Ellen Burstyn, James Caan and the rest of the star cast make us laugh and feel good. Michael did an extraordinary job in making this a film for all ages united by the universal topic of love. We trust this gem in the hands of our longtime valued friends at Gravitas Ventures and are certain that with them, this diamond will shine and bring joy to domestic audiences.”

“Michael’s film is the breath of fresh air audiences need right now, a hilarious and life-affirming story with excellent performances from an iconic cast. We look forward to presenting the film to North American audiences,” Tony Piantedosi, VP of acquisitions at Gravitas Ventures, said in a statement.

Survey: More Than Two-Thirds of Americans Would Prefer to Watch First-Run Movies at Home After Pandemic

A December survey of American consumers found 67% would prefer to watch recently released movies at home after the pandemic instead of going to the movie theater.

Meanwhile, 12% said they would prefer to watch recently released movies in the theater, according to the Savanta survey of 500 Americans.

Half (50%) said they are likely to pay to watch a recently released movie on a streaming platform, but about one-third (32%) said they are not likely to pay to watch a recently released movie on a streaming platform (17% said they are neither likely nor unlikely to pay to watch a recently released movie on a streaming platform).

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The survey found respondents are willing to pay on average of $14 to watch a recently released movie on a streaming platform — with 46% willing to pay less than $10, 30% willing to pay $10 to $19, 15% willing to pay $20 to $30, and 8% willing to pay more than $31.

Half said they weren’t sure when they would return to a movie theater. Meanwhile, 17% think they would go to a movie theater in the next six months, 13% think they would go to a movie theater within the next month, 11% think they would go to a movie theater within the next two-three months, and 8% think they would go to a movie theater within the next four to five months.

Savanta is a New York-based research and advisory firm.

HBO Max Saw Strong ‘WW84’ Streaming Response

Simultaneous access to the box office debut of Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max proved a success for WarnerMedia, which turned Hollywood on its ear earlier this year when it announced it would release its entire 2021 theatrical slate in theaters and on Max at the same time.

On Max, anticipation for Wonder Woman 1984 was apparent, with nearly half of the platform’s retail subscribers viewing the film on the day of its arrival, along with millions of wholesale subscribers who have access to HBO Max via a cable, wireless, or other partner services. Combined HBO and Max subscribers topped 38 million at the end of the most-recent fiscal quarter. Max also saw the total viewing hours on Christmas Day more than triple in comparison to a typical day in the previous month.

The consumer response was noteworthy considering Max is the most-expensive SVOD platform on the market at $14.99 monthly — double the price of Disney+.

Wonder Woman 1984 broke records and exceeded our expectations across all of our key viewing and subscriber metrics in its first 24 hours on the service, and the interest and momentum we’re seeing indicates this will likely continue well beyond the weekend,” Andy Forssell, EVP and GM, WarnerMedia Direct-to-Consumer, said in a statement. “During these very difficult times, it was nice to give families the option of enjoying this uplifting film at home, where theater viewing wasn’t an option.”