We know Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, George Lucas, Kathryn Bigelow, Tim Burton, Jennifer Lawrence, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Will Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, Tyler Perry, Idris Elba, Denzel Washington and hundreds (1000s) of talented creatives around the world want their stuff in theaters.
Attention Grabber – The creative industry is slowly weening itself away from the idea that a movie is only a movie when it is shown in a big dark room because the real importance is having people watch and respond to the project … regardless of the screen.
But more than that, they want to get paid for their work.
They also want millions of ordinary folks to see their work and talk to other folks about why they’ve gotta see the project … regardless of the screen.
So, we asked Allan McLennan, Founder & Head of M&E of PADEM Media Group, if the growth of streaming services meant that the cinema will go the way of pay TV.
“Far from it,” he said emphatically, “but it’s in the process of changing … significantly.
“Last year’s tentpoles and major projects showed that audiences really wanted to get back to watching some movies in the theater and they have become more selective,” he added. “Films that previously would have been considered ‘sure things’ like Disney Animation’s Strange World and DC’s Black Adam showed respectable ticket sales but not what the industry experienced pre-2019.”
According to Bruce Nash, who has been tracking theater attendance since the mid-90s, theater attendance has been trending downward since 2012 and the most ardent attendees have been the Gen Zs and early Millennials.
Options – Movie house owners need to focus on the people who attend a lot of movies – the younger crowd and a heavily male audience. Millennials and older folks go to movies less frequently and don’t spend as much on concessions.
“I’m a big believer in theatrical releases,” McLennan said. “My wife and I enjoy going to the theater and settling in to watch a great film the way the producer created it to be viewed. It’s a break for us and it has always been special because it’s a communal experience.
“This isn’t going to go away,” he added, “but it has been changed primarily because audiences have learned there are very good app-based options that enable them to watch the film at home when it is convenient, not having to rely on another schedule or movie house agenda. People have come to expect that ease and flexibility for the majority of their entertainment.”
At the same time McLennan noted that streaming has even helped revitalize theater attendance.
“There is a very limited number of major projects/tentpoles that studios can afford to produce each year,” he stated. “Perhaps two – three. Certainly not enough visual stories to put seats in their seats 365 days a year.
“But studios and streaming service here and abroad can and are producing an increasing number of excellent mid-level projects to win new subscribers and keep existing subscribers through easy viewing,” McLennan noted. “Giving movie houses an exclusive theatrical window of five – 20 days benefits both parties. It gives movie houses a greater range of titles that appeal to the ‘have to get out and participate crowd’ and provides streamers with modest return to their bottom-line plus word of mouth to attract/retain subscribers.
“It’s a win/win for the entire industry,” he emphasized.