Is This the Death of Movie Theaters?

Photo via Cinemark Theatres Instagram

Is This the Death of Movie Theaters?

By Allyson Vannatta, Senior Writer

With no product to release in theaters, is there any way the entertainment houses can be saved?

Death blows, like movies moving from theatrical releases to streaming services, continue to push theaters toward extinction.

Just last week two big tentpoles, NO TIME TO DIE and DUNE, moved from their 2020 release dates to 2021, adding another nail to the coffin.

Though Christopher Nolan’s TENET eventually debuted in theaters after a delay, it’s $45 million domestic gross was less than hoped (in large part due to restrictions in Los Angeles and New York), but the movie did surpass $300 million in the worldwide box office.

Theaters rely on major releases like TENET, NO TIME TO DIE and DUNE to draw audiences.

Media analyst Rich Greenfield from Lightshed Partners told NBC that streaming releases can work for smaller to medium sized budget movies, but not for blockbuster size ones.

“It doesn’t work at a sufficient scale to replace the economics that they’re used to on a feature film,” he said. “It can work for a smaller film like ‘TROLLS.’ It’s very hard for a more expensive movie like ‘MULAN.'”

Theaters need these blockbusters to keep their kernels popping.

Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger told CNBC, “We are now like a grocery store that has no food to sell.”

He added, “Hollywood is essentially like a deer in headlights. They can’t release their movies theatrically. They can’t really sell them directly to the home, because they can’t generate enough revenue and profit that way. There are two choices: You either follow Netflix, or you wait. Nearly every traditional Hollywood studio is choosing to wait.”

So what, if anything, can be done?

Analyst Greenfield suspects this could be the end.

“I think most of the movie theater chains will not survive in their current form. They’re likely going to have to file for bankruptcy protection, and you’re probably going to end up with a smaller footprint,” Greenfield said.

But Greenfield believes that, “Our country cannot afford to lose the social, economic, and cultural value that theaters provide.”

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