Are movie-theater owners feeling good? Better -- but things are not perfect, they might say.
Theater-chain owners feel that business is still slowly recovering from the depths of the pandemic since March 2020, where it was dramatically impacted and virtually shut down in its entirety.
While box-office revenues have steadily grown since then, they continue to lag 2019 -- the last pre-pandemic “normal” year -- by 28%.
In recent weeks, there is some good trending news coming from major digital media players Amazon and Apple -- each of which, according to reports, are ready to commit to a full schedule of perhaps 12-14 theatrical movies a year -- or around $1 billion each per year in production/distribution cost, according to estimates.
All this comes as legacy media and entertainment companies -- such as Warner Bros. Discovery, Walt Disney, Paramount Global, and NBCUniversal -- continue to return to releasing movies exclusively in movie theaters.
But all isn't perfect. While digital media companies Amazon and Apple now see the value of premium out-of-home entertainment -- vis a vis movie theaters -- we are still missing one major player taking an active part in “wide”-release new, big content in theaters.While it still produces lots of original movies, its intention is still to give film content a priority in running on its streaming service -- not in movie theaters.
It does start up some of its movies in a handful of theaters -- its own venues in particular -- for a couple of days. But the goal is to give those movies the minimum credentials to be nominated for Academy Awards hardware.
While Netflix has received some top trophies for that event -- including plenty of nomination honors -- it has yet to grab the top honor of Best Picture.
If Netflix shifted even some of its effort to release movies exclusively to theaters on a 30-day or 45-day basis -- currently standard terms for movie theaters -- it would do much to bolster business.
And think about this: Netflix is now looking to produce more “quality” movies, not just quantity for the current year. For example, it has talked up 49 titles so far, which significantly lower the 85 titles revealed at the same point in 2022.
This comes amid lower cost considerations all streamers are aiming for now that the business is maturing.
That said, even with Netflix in tow, on its own this may not be enough to accelerate the return of audiences to theaters. But it would at least give some support to the industry in a strong way -- and perhaps build strong entertainment business connections for the future.
Amazon and Apple seem happy to tell us about this new positive new entertainment mindset: You can live and work in both worlds -- and make a living.