- Theater industry executives are excited about the list of Movies of the Year.
- They are particularly optimistic about Disney, which has won back the cinemas.
- Warner Bros. and Paramount may experience growing pains under new management.
After a tumultuous two years for the theater industry, Hollywood Studios brought their A-game to CinemaCon last week to impress optimistic theater owners.
Major studios pulled out all the stops to present to a giddy crowd of theater owners and managers, studio executives and members of the press:
- Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” played in full to enthusiastic audiences.
- Disney has finally unveiled the first images of “Avatar: The Way of Water”.
- Warner Bros. released one of the world’s biggest stars and box office draws, Dwayne Johnson.
- Sony reiterated its commitment to the theatrical experience and touted the success of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
- And Universal presented an extensive list of at least 20 films.
The US box office is still below pre-pandemic levels and will take longer to fully recover. But based on conversations during the week-long exhibition conference, theater industry leaders are spurred on by this year’s release schedule. It includes long-awaited sequels like “Maverick” and “The Way of Water,” three Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and potential hits like Warner Bros. “Elvis”.
Industry executives are further energized that these and other of the year’s biggest films are set to release with an exclusive theatrical window before heading to
Pre-pandemic windows of 75-90 days will largely be a thing of the past, replaced by smaller windows. But for the theater industry, it’s still a welcome pivot away from pandemic-era distribution strategies, where studios released blockbusters simultaneously in theaters and on streaming platforms.
“There aren’t any studios right now that I don’t think don’t believe in the theater industry and what it can do for the rest of their entertainment ecosystem,” said Rolando Rodriguez. , CEO of Marcus Theaters and President of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO).
Still, industry insiders said some studios were more impressed with CinemaCon than others.
Disney is about to dominate the box office (again)
The theater industry is bullish on Disney and in particular its ‘Avatar: The Way of the Water,’ the sequel to James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi epic, which is the highest-grossing film of all. weather. Cameron, the director, is preparing the film in every type of format imaginable, from Imax to 3D, and playing around with high frame rate and high dynamic range versions.
“They’re making more versions of this movie than there’s ever been before,” NATO CEO John Fithian said. “It shows the wide variety of technological experiences and visual experiences you can have in theaters that you can never get at home. It’s also part of our comeback story.”
Disney sparked NATO’s ire last year when it debuted “Black Widow” simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ for an additional fee. He did the same with other movies, including “Cruella” and “Jungle Cruise.”
But despite being the only major studio not to announce a specific theatrical window, Disney appears to have regained favor with theater operators and industry leaders with its 2022 release slate.
“Disney is about to kill it,” said an industry source, who wished to remain anonymous to protect business relationships.
“People forget what a powerhouse Disney was in 2019,” the source said. (Disney released seven of the top 10 films at the US and worldwide box office that year). “But Disney has it all, from ‘Doctor Strange’ to ‘Avatar.’ There’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll be preeminent.”
Warner Bros. and Paramount may experience growing pains
Paramount is having a strong 2022 so far at the US box office, with four consecutive No. 1 films in “Scream”, “Jackass Forever”, “The Lost City” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2”. The studio could go five-for-five with “Top Gun: Maverick” over Memorial Day weekend.
After “Top Gun,” however, Paramount’s list of releases is slim. He pushed back “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”, the seventh film in the franchise, to next year.
The studio is also under new management, as Brian Robbins replaced Jim Gianopulos as president last year.
“I think Paramount is a bit lost,” the industry source said. “Brian Robbins doesn’t know the [theatrical] business again. It has not been tested.”
But, Rodriguez, the CEO of Marcus Theaters, is optimistic about Paramount under Robbins, saying Robbins “feels good about the potential of the theater”.
Paramount’s slate is also more stacked in 2023, with new entries in the “Mission: Impossible,” “Transformers,” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchises on the schedule.
Warner Bros. is in a similar boat.
He could have a bigger roster next year, with sequel “Aquaman”, “Flash” and “Dune: Part Two”. And the studio is under new corporate ownership, after the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery formed the new Warner Bros. Discovery.
CEO David Zaslav is working hard to mend relationships with theaters after the studio released all of its 2021 movies simultaneously to
. Rodriguez said Zaslav’s commitment to theaters sparked a new kind of “energy and excitement” throughout the industry.
Still, it could take some time for Warner Bros. to correct the shot.
“David Zaslav will get him on the right track, but I don’t think it will be overnight,” the industry source said.
A second industry source, who also wished to remain anonymous, asked Warner Bros. decision to announce early on when “The Batman,” which has grossed over $760 million worldwide, would be available to stream on Max (the studio is building in a 45-day theatrical window for its films).
“They probably could have played that [only in theaters] for 90 days,” the second source said. “But people in week three or week four who were interested in seeing it might have said, ‘I can wait.’ This is one of the dangers of these models.”
Netflix and Amazon could still shake up the movie industry
Industry leaders aren’t just paying attention to traditional Hollywood studios.
Theater owners are still courting
, which has weathered longer theatrical windows for the few movies it hits theaters. But the streaming giant recently opened the door to other ideas it had previously rejected, including an ad-supported plan, after losing subscribers for the first time in a decade.
“We’re always open to bigger theatrical releases from streaming companies if they have appropriate windows,” Fithian said. “The theater door is open to Netflix if they want to go for a bigger theatrical strategy.”
They are more wary of Amazon, which bought the MGM film studio last year and has not made clear its intentions for the studio’s films. Will it release them exclusively in theaters or will it release them on Prime Video?
“We want to see if there’s a theatrical release model for these MGM images still in the works,” Fithian said. “We don’t have any answers yet.”