Movie theaters beg for more movies to show
The Future. Thanks to the cost of making movies during COVID and the desire to pad new streaming services with fresh content, theater chains have far fewer films to show than typical… and that’s seriously hurting their earnings. Unless studios start making theatrical-bound movies and streamers start sending more marquee titles to play on the big screen (such as Amazon’s Air), cinemas may be in dire straits.
Where did all the movies go?
Theater chains are really hurting for movies.
- The four largest exhibitors — AMC, Cineworld, Cinemark, and Marcus — all reported losses for the fourth quarter of 2022 ( Cineworld is even going through bankruptcy).
- Each of them mentioned on their earnings calls that a major contributing factor to the missed expectations was that Hollywood just isn’t giving them enough movies to play.
- And the numbers don’t lie — only 71 films were released on more than 2,000 screens last year, compared to 112 in 2019 (the domestic box office is down 22% from that year).
The chains noted that the situation might be even direr because the revenue gains they did make were padded by “ticket price hikes, strong high-margin concession sales and premium big-screen play for tentpoles, according to THR.
Trying to strike a hopeful tone, the chains believe that a lot more films are coming this year, but a full recovery may not be made until 2024 or 2025 (if they can hold on). Additionally, the outsized grosses they made from Avatar: The Way of Water will be felt in the Q1 2023 report.
Not to pour cold water on cinemas, but every studio seems to be in a cost-cutting mode right now, so making more movies might be wishful thinking. But, with Wall Street turning on the economics of streaming, studios are now opting to release streaming-made movies in theaters first (see: Smile and Evil Dead Rises).
So, maybe the tide is finally turning in favor of theaters.