Future of Cinema Theaters
Toys R Us lost their battle against online. That brought a different question in my mind. The way media streaming business is booming, do you think cinema theaters will survive in future? I mean what happens if production houses distribute their movies to streaming providers (Amazon, Netflix, Youtube) for a direct cost. I know right now they release short films to the streamers, but what if they do it for the movies. Do you think this is a possibility or if yes, a risk for theaters?
Theater owners have far more to be concerned with than streaming to home small format or VR technology. From digital wide-screen, IMAX, and Cinema 3D to Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos and cafe and reclining seating, to even minor improvements in food quality, theater owners are constantly improving the viewer experience that only large screens can deliver. The threat that theater owners face is quality and immersive content that does not just make a theater goer feel she or he have received a valuable experience for the money, but even more important, provide a content experience that will bring back consumers over and over again for a large viewing experience they know and believe that even the best 80" home theater, or VR headset could provide. The lack of quality in theater release product, as perceived by both professional critics and movie goers, is what hurts theater owners most. Simply put, what the movie industry (which now includes producers and developers from a much larger field "dabbling" in the creative process, is not delivering the product that consumers want or value - across many demographics. Viewing at home and sales to consumers of TVs and home theater systems is facing similar problems - as less and less content over fragmented channel platforms interests viewers, there is less incentive to purchase new and better home equipment. We've educated movie and television consumers to expect amazing viewing experiences, the creative industry has to become better at delivering far better viewing experiences.
The global box office receipts of these films and the hundreds more released in 2016 reached $38.6 billion, an increase of one percent from the previous year. In the United States and Canada, the box office rose two percent to hit $11.4 billion. Even with an incredible variety of viewing choices available to audiences, cinema remains the premier way to experience the magic of our movies. The good news is, there are positive signs for greater growth in the future. In 2016, more young people and diverse populations went to the movies. Audiences between the ages of 18 and 24 attended an average of 6.5 movies over the course of the year – more than any other age group. Per capita attendance also increased among African American and Asian/Other audiences. Today, there are more stories and more storytelling mediums than ever before. Producers and filmmakers are continually finding new talent and technologies to weave these tales. At the same time, theater owners are investing in the best ways to bring movies to life with better sound, screens, and special effects. This collaboration and relentless innovation among production, distribution, and exhibition is an important reason the global film industry remains strong.
One important factor to remember is that streaming distribution platforms like Amazon and Netflix are already production houses. Some major films that were released in theaters were from Amazon Films (Chi-Raq, Cafe Society, The Dressmaker, Manchester by the Sea, The Big Sick, Crown Heights, Long Strange Trip) and Netflix (Beasts of No Nation, Bright) and apparently plan to release many more to theaters.
I'm not sure of the significance of this, but it creates a really tricky problem for film producers when one of the main channels for your products (Amazon and Netflix) become your competitors.
Movie theater attendance in the US and Canada in 2017 fell to its lowest point since at least 1992, Bloomberg reports. Box Office Mojo estimates around 1.24 billion tickets were sold, a drop off of 5.8 percent from the previous year. Even with higher ticket prices, domestic revenue also dropped 2.7 percent from last year, from $11.4 billion to $11.1 billion.
The slump is part of an ongoing downward trend when it comes to domestic ticket sales. The Hollywood Reporter estimates that attendance in North America could be at a 27-year low. But when you factor in international theater attendance, things look slightly less dire. As The Hollywood Reporter points out, global box office revenue hit a record $40 billion this year (an increase of 3 percent worldwide).
Last year’s slump in domestic ticket sales can partly be attributed to a very poor turnout during the summer blockbuster season. Theater attendance in the US and Canada during the summer months, which saw releases like Baywatch, The Mummy, and the fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, hit a 25-year low, according to the LA Times. The number of tickets sold from May through Labor Day was reportedly down 16 percent from 2016.
As Bloomberg points out, there are other factors in play, too. As streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and HBO Go offer more entertainment options, theatergoers may be less likely to leave their homes to watch a movie. Ticket prices also continue to rise, even as startups like the subscription service MoviePass threaten to devalue the movie-going experience.
The highest-grossing movie of 2017 was Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which has so far earned more than $1 billion worldwide.
Another perspective on a slight downturn in cinema patrons suggests that the abundance of sequels is forcing theater goers to choose between films, thereby cannibalizing ticket sales. This also speaks to the broader trend of greater availability of content across platforms. Consumers are spoiled for choice. Thanks to the internet, films can be found on any number of platforms easily. And the relatively cheaper price of content on the internet — which is either free and ad-supported, or available through a monthly subscription — further incentivizes consumers to watch video online. A month's worth of access to Netflix, for instance, is typically equal to (or even less than) the price of a single admission to the cinema.
I do not see any risk to movie theaters in future. People prefer going to theaters with family or friends to spend time and enjoy. This increases over the weekend and this is how the production houses and all other associated with it makes money. In fact its popularity has increased in recent years.
I would say there will be theaters for many years in the future. This is where movies make a lot of their money (domestically and internationally) for the studio's, distributor's, producers and production companies.
The Billion-Dollar Film Club: There are 33 Hollywood Movies that Reached $1 Billion Worldwide from theater/cinema distribution release as of March 11, 2018