Box Office: The Movie Business Feels Like it is Dead

Box Office: The Movie Business Feels Like it is Dead

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With New York and Los Angeles cinemas shuttered, “the business feels dead” as studios pull major tentpoles and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo comes under fire for keeping NYC cinemas closed.

There is a new public enemy # 1 among theater owners and some Hollywood studio executives: Andrew Cuomo. The New York Governor, who has been hammered for his negligent handling of The China Act of War Virus, so far has refused to let theaters open even as indoor restaurants, casinos and gyms are allowed to turn on the lights.

We have had a request to put all of our CEOs on a conference call. He [Cuomo]would not schedule it. And there are very senior Hollywood executives who have placed calls to him and ended up speaking with his staff, not him, Nothing!” says John Fithian, President and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners. “He has put us in a category with big music concerts and Broadway. That is absurd.”

The industry frustration spilled over on 4 October when London-based Cineworld (OTCMKT:CNNWF), the world’s 2nd-largest circuit and parent company of Regal Cinemas, stunned the film business by revealing that it is temporarily closing all of its locations in the UK and US.

A rise in COVID-19 cases in parts of the EU and Canada also has spurred alarm.

AMC Theatres (NYSE:AMC), the world’s largest circuit, said on 6 October it has no plans to temporarily close. Same for mega-circuit Cinemark (NYSE:CNK).

New York is just 1 front in the battle to revive moviegoing, but it is Key to winning the war to convincing consumers that returning to the multiplex is safe, cinemas in LA are closed.

Richard Azzopardi, senior adviser to Governor Cuomo, responded to criticism of the governor in a tersely worded statement: “We understand some people are unhappy, but you know what? Better unhappy than sick or worse.

CEO Fithian shot back, saying that New York is “out of touch.”

The Top lobbyist noted that health officials in 48 out of 50 states have allowed cinemas to reopen. Circuits have spent tens of millions of dollars on new social distancing, air ventilation and safety protocols.

Governor Cuomo’s administration has been briefed on the new policies but so far has not budged. “We are moving heaven and earth trying to stop a second wave and people need to acknowledge that we are still in a pandemic and start to act like it,” Mr. Azzopardi continued.

For Cineworld, the last straw was MGM Studios and Universal’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) decision to push the James Bond pic No Time to Die from 20 November to April, all but erasing hopes of a box office recovery before Christmas. And that’s if Wonder Woman 1984 sticks to its 25 December date.

The North American marketplace is not in a good place, and there are rising C-19 cases across Europe. With that uncertainty, no 1 wants to risk releasing another big movie.

From a frustrated Hollywood studio executive: “New York and LA are about more than just moviegoing. Not having them open is murder because they are the cultural centers of America. When they are not open, the business feels dead.”

Have a healthy holiday weekend, Keep the Faith!

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Paul Ebeling

Paul A. Ebeling, a polymath, excels, in diverse fields of knowledge Including Pattern Recognition Analysis in Equities, Commodities and Foreign Exchange, and he it the author of "The Red Roadmaster's Technical Report on the US Major Market Indices, a highly regarded, weekly financial market commentary. He is a philosopher, issuing insights on a wide range of subjects to over a million cohorts. An international audience of opinion makers, business leaders, and global organizations recognize Ebeling as an expert.