Warner Bros. Q1 Operating Profit Declines 55%

With studio operations shuttered for nearly a third of the quarter due to the coronavirus pandemic, Warner Bros. April 22 reported operating income of $249 million, down about 55% from operating income of $547 million in the previous-year period. Revenue from theatrical product dropped almost 27% to $1.1 billion, from $1.5 billion last year.

Television content revenue increased 9% to $1.77 billion from $1.6 billion. Home entertainment and video games saw revenue drop less than 10% to $365 million from $399 million during the previous-year period.

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Oscar-winning Joker remains the studio’s top-selling packaged media of the year.

Warner, like other studios, has pushed back release of tentpole titles such as Wonder Woman 1984 to later this year or into 2021.

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Cinemark Acquiring $250 Million in New Debt

Its rival may be headed to bankruptcy, but Cinemark Holdings April 13 announced that its theatrical subsidiary is seeking $250 million in new private security debt — exempt from the registration requirements of the Securities Act of 1933 — to be repaid by 2025.

The country’s third-largest movie exhibitor said the new bonds would be guaranteed by its subsidiaries and would be used for general corporate purposes, including further increasing its liquidity.

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Headquartered in Plano, Texas, Cinemark operates 554 theaters with 6,132 screens in 42 states domestically and 15 countries throughout South and Central America. It also operates Movie Club, the first U.S. exhibitor-launched subscription ticket program aimed at competing against now-shuttered MoviePass.

AMC Theatres, the world’s largest exhibitor, has reportedly sought legal advice from bankruptcy law firms as it struggles to sustain operations with zero revenue. The chain recently furloughed 600 executives, including CEO Adam Aron.

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Sky Selling Theatrical Releases in the Home

With the shutdown of theatres worldwide, satellite TV operator Sky has begun offering digital video access to select theatrical releases in the home. The move is the latest among media companies upending traditional distribution channels as consumers face quarantine situations against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Sky, which is owned by Comcast, parent of NBCUniversal, has 24 million customers across seven countries in Europe. It is following a strategy taken by Universal Pictures in the United States, which has begun offering digital retail access to select theatrical movies.

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Sky Store will have a range of NBCU titles available the same day as their global cinema release. They will be priced at £15.99 ($18.99). This is available for Sky+ and Sky Q subscribers. Sky Store digital sales typically include a DVD backup sent in the mail.

The program begins with DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour April 6. This is the first time customers have been able to rent NBCUniversal movies as soon as they hit cinemas. On March 20, The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma will also be available on-demand on Sky Store, following their recent release in cinemas.

“We’re working hard at Sky to make sure we continue to look after our customers,” Stephen van Rooyen, EVP & CEO of Sky UK and Europe, said in a statement. “We’re also introducing some things to help make life a little easier for anyone at home trying to work, stay connected to loved ones, or keep the family entertained.”

During the ongoing pandemic, Sky will also make it “Go Extra” platform available free to all customers so European households have access to Sky TV on three screens at the same time. Calls to U.K. landlines any time of day will be free for existing Sky Talk customers through the end of April.

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Sky Mobile subscribers will get an extra 10GB data free added to their accounts. Call centers and engineers will prioritize the needs of existing customers to ensure their service keeps running smoothly.

Premium platform Sky Q will soon add over-the-top video platform Disney+ (March 24), in addition to YouTube Kids.

 

MPAA: Global Box Office, Home Entertainment Revenue Topped $100 Billion in 2019

Rome may be burning (figuratively) due to the coronavirus, but in 2019 the entertainment industry was looking rosy.

The Motion Picture Association of America March 11 released a report finding the global entertainment market in 2019 topped $101 billion in revenue for the first time ever.

Domestic theatrical, home and mobile entertainment topped $36 billion, up 4% from 2018 and 25% from 2015. The international box office topped $30 billion for the first time, while worldwide home and mobile entertainment reached $58.8 billion in revenue — largely driven by streaming video, including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Indeed, Netflix joined the MPAA in 2019.

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The U.S. digital entertainment revenue increased 18% from 2018, while international digital revenue increased 29%. The global SVOD market saw subscriptions reach 864 million, up 28% from 2018. Notably, cable remains the top pay-TV revenue generator with $116 billion in 2019.

“The film, television, and streaming industry continues to transform at breakneck pace, and this report shows that audiences are the big winners,” Charles Rivkin, CEO of the MPAA, said in the report. “Most importantly, our industry continues to innovate and deliver great storytelling for movie and TV fans — where, when, and how they want it.”

The top-grossing movie of 2019, according to Box Office Mojo, was Avengers: Endgame, with a worldwide gross of nearly $2.8 billion. Second and third place went to two other Disney films, The Lion King and Frozen II, which took in just under $1.66 billion and $1.45 billion, respectively. Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Far From Home came in at No. 4, with just over $1.13 billion. A fourth Disney film, Captain Marvel, finished fifth with a worldwide box office tally of just under $1.13 billion.

The report made no mention of the coronavirus, which has shuttered movie theaters globally and caused havoc for Hollywood productions, studio operations and releases. Instead, the MPAA outlined that 85% of children and 55% of adults watch movies and TV shows on portable devices.

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“Our industry remains focused on better representation not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s also good business,” Rivkin said.

 

‘Paramount Presents’ Label Launches to Celebrate Studio Library on Blu-ray, in Theaters

Paramount Pictures will introduce a new “Paramount Presents” label to recognize and celebrate films from the studio’s library on Blu-ray and in theaters.

The “Paramount Presents” banner will be used for a new line of Blu-ray Discs “incorporating a curated selection of enduringly popular movies, as well as films that had a cultural impact upon their release,” according to a Paramount press release. The label will also be used to bring classic films to select theaters for limited theatrical runs so audiences can experience them again on the big screen.

“Paramount’s library represents over a century of filmmaking and includes some of the greatest films in cinematic history,” Bob Buchi, president of worldwide home media distribution at Paramount Pictures, said in a statement. “We look forward to opening the vault and sharing some of our most treasured films with fans under the new ‘Paramount Presents’ banner, both in theaters and in our new Blu-ray collection, which has been crafted to offer something special to casual fans, dedicated film enthusiasts and collectors.”

The “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray Discs will include a diverse and eclectic array of films spanning all genres, according to the studio. The new collection will return each title to the spotlight with meticulously remastered releases that include new bonus content focused on the filmmakers. The discs will be presented in collectible packaging that includes a foldout image of the original movie poster and interior artwork featuring key movie moments. Each Blu-ray in the line will feature new interviews with filmmakers and/or film historian Leonard Maltin.

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“Movies have the power to hold a mirror up to the world. Sometimes they make us think about big issues and sometimes they simply reflect the times in which they were made,” said Maltin in a statement. “The ‘Paramount Presents’ banner encompasses a wide array of films that are worth revisiting because they captured something unique that resonated with audiences. Whether you’re watching them for the first time or the hundredth, you will see why these films have stood the test of time.”

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The first three films in the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray line will be Fatal Attraction, which has been remastered under the supervision of director Adrian Lyne; 1958’s acclaimed Elvis Presley drama King Creole; and director Alfred Hitchcock’s romantic thriller To Catch A Thief, which celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. All three titles will be available beginning April 21. Fatal Attraction will also have a limited theatrical release in 2020 (details to be announced at a later date).

Additional titles scheduled to be released as part of the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray line include newly remastered editions of FlashdanceAirplane! and Ghost, as well as several titles arriving on Blu-ray for the first time ever, including Pretty in Pink and The Golden Child.

‘Parasite’ Ticket, VOD Sales and Rentals Jump on Fandango and FandangoNow

Parasite has seen a major boost in Fandango ticket sales since earning four Academy Awards Feb. 9, while the company’s transactional streaming service, FandangoNow, is also reporting an uptick for the title since the Oscar ceremony.

Parasite rentals and purchases on FandangoNow saw an 468% increase week over week comparing sales on Feb. 3 (before the Oscars) to sales on Feb. 10 (after the Oscars).

Theatrical ticket sales week over week jumped 443% in the same period.

Feb. 10 Bong Joon Ho’s darkly comic thriller was the No. 3 title in Fandango’s daily ticket sales and the No. 1 streaming title on FandangoNow.

FandangoNow is also offering a “Binge Bundle” selection of Parasite director Bong Joon Ho films, including The Host, Mother and Barking Dogs Never Bite, for rent for $7.99 here.

In a Fandango survey of Oscar watchers, 73% of moviegoers said they would watch or re-watch a movie after it wins an Academy Award. In the same poll, a majority of the fans (54%) claimed the multiple Parasite wins represented the “happiest surprise” of Oscar night.

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Parasite is seeing a remarkable uptick in sales on Fandango and on FandangoNow,” said Fandango managing editor Erik Davis in a statement.  “Moviegoers who haven’t seen the movie yet are anxious to discover it on the big screen or at home, while fans who have already seen Parasite are ready to re-watch Bong Joon Ho’s masterpiece to unpack its many layers.”

DC Universe Members Get Early Access to ‘Birds of Prey’ in Theaters

DC Universe SVOD members will have early access to Birds of Prey (and the Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) before its official theatrical release Feb. 7.

Members of the digital subscription service will have access to limited special advanced screenings Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 in more than 30 cities across the country. The series of fan screenings will begin in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York’s Times Square Feb. 4. All other DC Universe screenings will take place Feb. 5 in cities including Chicago, Washington D.C., Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston and Boston.

Starting Jan. 31, DC Universe members will get a link to RSVP to the limited event. Those who are not yet subscribed to DC Universe still have the opportunity to sign-up to take advantage of the offer by visiting https://www.dcuniverse.com/.

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In Warner Bros. Pictures’ Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) based on characters from DC Comics, star Margot Robbie returns as Harley Quinn, alongside Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz and Ewan McGregor as Roman Sionis. Newcomer Ella Jay Basco also stars as Cassandra “Cass” Cain in her feature film debut.

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DC Universe, at $7.99 per month ($74.99 annually), is available in the U.S. on Amazon Tablets and Fire TV, Android, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromebook, iOS, the Roku platform, Xbox One as well as the web and mobile web.

To prepare for Birds of Prey, a curated a list of articles, comics and shows to read and watch is currently available on DC Universe here.

Screening Times and Locations:

Feb. 4

LOS ANGELES  | 8:00 PM
Pacific Theatres at The Grove
189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90036

NEW YORK  | 7:00 PM
AMC Empire 25
234 W. 42nd St. New York, NY 10036

SAN FRANCISCO  | 7:00 PM
AMC Metreon 16
135 4th St., Suite 3000, San Francisco, CA 94103

Feb. 5

ATLANTA  | 7:30 PM
Regal Hollywood 24
3265 Northeast Expressway, Chamblee, GA 30341

AUSTIN  | 7:00 PM
Gateway Stadium 16
9700 Stonelake Blvd, Austin, TX 78759

BALTIMORE  | 7:00 PM
AMC White Marsh
8141 Honeygo Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21236

BOSTON  | 7:00 PM
ArcLight Cinemas Boston
60 Causeway St Boston, MA 02114

CHARLOTTE  | 7:30 PM
Regal Phillips Place Stadium 10
6911 Phillips Place CT, Charlotte, NC 28210

CHICAGO  | 7:00 PM
AMC IMAX Navy Pier
700 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

DALLAS  | 7:00 PM
AMC NorthPark
8687 N Central Expy, Dallas, TX 75231

DENVER  | 7:00 PM
UA Colorado Center
2000 S Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80222

DETROIT  | 7:00 PM
MJR Troy Grand Digital Cinema 16
100 E Maple Rd, Troy, MI 48083

HOUSTON  | 7:00 PM
Greenway Grand Palace
3840 Weslayan St, Houston, TX 77027

JACKSONVILLE  | 7:30 PM
Regal Avenues
9525 Phillips Highway Jacksonville, FL 32256

LAS VEGAS  | 7:00 PM
Regal Red Rock IMAX
11011 W Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89135

MIAMI  | 7:30 PM
AMC Aventura
19501 Biscayne Ste 3001 Aventura, FL 33180

MINNEAPOLIS  | 7:00 PM
Showplace ICON
1625 West End Blvd

ORANGE COUNTY  | 7:30 PM
Edwards Metro Pointe
901 S Coast Dr Unit 205D, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

ORLANDO  | 7:30 PM
AMC Altamonte
433 E Altamonte Ave. Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

PHILADELPHIA  | 7:30 PM
Regal UA Riverview Plaza
1400 S. Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19147

PHOENIX  | 7:00 PM
Harkins Arizona Mills IMAX
5000 South Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe, AZ 85282

PORTLAND  | 7:00 PM
Regal Lloyd Center
1510 NE Multnomah St Portland, OR 97232

SACRAMENTO  | 7:00 PM
Century Roseville 14
1555 Eureka Rd, Roseville, CA 95661

SALT LAKE CITY  | 7:00 PM
Megaplex Jordan Commons
9335 State St, Sandy, UT 84070

SAN ANTONIO  | 7:00 PM
Santikos Silverado 16
11505 W FM 1604 N, San Antonio, TX 78250

SAN DIEGO  | 7:00 PM
AMC Mission Valley
1640 Camino Del Rio N, San Diego, CA 92108

SAN JOSE  | 7:00 PM
AMC Saratoga
700 El Paseo de Saratoga, San Jose, CA 95130

SEATTLE  | 7:00 PM
Pacific Science Center Boeing IMAX
200 2nd Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

TAMPA  | 7:30 PM
AMC Veterans
9302 Anderson Rd. Tampa, FL 33634

WASHINGTON DC  | 7:00 PM
AMC Mazza
5300 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20015

China’s iQIYI Streaming Service Bows First Theatrical Feature Film

China’s online media giant iQIYI announced that Spycies, a family-friendly animated film, will launch in theaters across China on Jan. 11, with subsequent releases slated in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia.

Spycies revolves around a complex action-adventure between “Spy Cat” Vladimir and “Hacker Mouse” Hector set in a modern animal kingdom.

The production team reportedly created and produced more than 40 species, over 90 animal characters, and more than 60 scenes. The movie features endangered animals such as white rhinos and snow leopards, nationally protected animals such as lorises, and extinct animals such as mammoths.

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The design of distinctive fur animations for each species in the movie was based on research of the animals’ actual physical characteristics including fur pattern, material, length, and density.

“With the superb animation effects, exciting storyline and family-friendly themes, this film will undoubtedly succeed in delighting parents and children alike,” Ya Ning, president of iQIYI Pictures, said in a statement.

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In 2018, Spycies was nominated by the Cannes International Film Festival’s “Annecy Goes Cannes” unit based on the Annecy International Animated Film Festival’s judging panel recommendation. Leveraging its premium IP across multiple entertainment formats, iQIYI is developing merchandise such as mystery toy boxes, steam eye masks, luggage cases, and snacks around the Spycies brand.

Netflix Left $3.6 Billion at the Theatrical Box Office in 2019

Beginning in late 2018 through this year, Netflix has redoubled efforts to produce original feature-length movies in addition to episodic TV series.

At the same time, the SVOD pioneer continues to throw a curve ball into traditional theatrical distribution by largely eschewing exhibitor releases in favor of worldwide streaming access.

The result is friction from theater operators, industry awards groups and a significant hit to the fiscal bottom line.

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Netflix said its most-popular original movies from October 2018 through September 2019 included Bird Box (80 million views), Murder Mystery (73 million), Triple Frontier (52 million), The Perfect Date (48 million) and Tall Girl (41 million).

The streamer said movies such as Fyre, Otherhood, Always Be My Maybe, Secret Obsession and The Highwaymen generated more than 20 million views each within four weeks of release. The list excludes El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (25 million) and The Irishman (40 million).

While 72% of Netflix households have more than one user on the account, when factoring just one view per subscription, the aforementioned movies generated about 394 million views. Netflix ended Q3 with 158 million subscribers worldwide.

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Multiplying the views by $9.11, the average cost of a theatrical movie ticket in 2018, suggests Netflix conservatively left more than $3.58 billion in ticket sales on the table over a film’s initial 30-day period.

That’s just slightly less than Netflix’s entire third-quarter 2018 revenue of $3.9 billion.

While it can be argued that streaming a movie for “free” is more likely an option for consumers than leaving the house and buying a ticket for a non-Marvel release at a cineplex, the data underscores users’ willingness to devote a significant time allotment for video content.

“The thing that’s amazing about that is … think of everything those people could be doing on those screens, and they chose a [Netflix] film,” Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at the streamer, told an industry gathering earlier this month.

Sarandos was talking about The Irishman, Netflix’s 3-and-a-half-hour big-budget gangster movie from director Martin Scorsese that has multiple Golden Globe nominations. “Consumers understand the value of proposition of new movie watching, compared with TV series,” he said.

Scorsese’s most-recent theatrical release, 2016’s Silence, earned just $23.7 million at the global box office against an estimated budget of more than $40 million. But before that, 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street earned $392 million at the worldwide box office, 2011’s Hugo earned $186 million, 2010’s Shutter Island earned $294 million, and 2006’s The Departed generated $291 million. With The Irishman touting a typical Scorsese cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, it’s not unreasonable the film would have attracted moviegoers.

Irishman was released in select indie theaters to be considered for industry awards, including the Oscars.

The Irishman lost a lot of box office,” Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld, said in an interview. “A Scorsese released properly in cinemas would have generated a nice income.”

Indeed, Netflix hasn’t been shy seeking third-party funding for its content aspirations. In October the platform sold more than $2 billion in long-term debt (bonds) in the U.S. and Europe to buttress original content production in response to growing third-party competition, including Disney+.

Netflix Signs Lease to Keep Open Iconic New York Theater

Netflix has announced a lease agreement to keep open New York’s iconic Paris Theatre, one of the oldest art houses in the United States, and the last single-screen theater in New York. The theater was shuttered earlier this year and was re-opened earlier this month to a successful run of Marriage Story, by filmmaker Noah Baumbach.

Netflix plans to use the theater for special events, screenings and theatrical releases of its films. Terms of the lease were not disclosed.

“After 71 years, the Paris Theatre has an enduring legacy, and remains the destination for a one-of-a kind movie-going experience,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, in a statement. “We are incredibly proud to preserve this historic New York institution so it can continue to be a cinematic home for film lovers.”

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The Paris Theatre first opened in 1948, when actress Marlene Dietrich cut the ribbon to commemorate the occasion. The theater, opened by Pathé Cinema, originally showed French titles, the first of which was La Symphonie Pastorale, which ran for eight months.

The Paris became a symbol of prestige cinema, known for showcasing specialized films, and can be credited with introducing renowned foreign-language films to an American audience, including Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, which ran for almost a year from 1968-1969; Claude Lelouch’s A Man and a Woman; and Marcello Mastroianni’s comedy Divorce Italian Style, which played for more than a year. The theater closed in August 2019 after a successful run of Ron Howard’s Pavarotti.