Weekend Wrap Up - a look at this week’s Industry Updates

January 25, 2021

Déjà vu: the first movie to shift out of 2020 because of concerns surrounding the pandemic has been delayed yet again for the same reason. No Time to Die – originally on the theatrical calendar for November 8th of 2019 – is now slated for October 8th of this year. Just as it happened last year, MGM’s date shift prompted several other studios to delay their Q1 & Q2 titles. Sony takes the crown, bouncing the live-action Cinderella and Peter Rabbit 2 into the summer; exorcising Ghostbusters: Afterlife to November; and sweeping both Morbius and Uncharted into early 2022.


So now what? The goalposts certainly move towards the late spring/summer season – with Black Widow (5/07) now set to commence the blockbuster drumroll – but theaters are in a better situation than last year. Before last year’s first, post-pandemic films (Unhinged, The New Mutants, and Tenet) released, there was a ~ 7 month gap without any new wide-releases. In contrast, there is at least one new release every month leading up to Widow. And due to the new distribution strategies of several studios, we know that these “day-and-date” movies are practically guaranteed to stay put: The Little Things (1/29), Tom & Jerry (2/26), Raya and The Last Dragon (3/05), Godzilla vs King (3/26), and Mortal Kombat (4/16). These titles and films of lower fanfare will prop up those theaters that are allowed to be open, but as we know – and forgive the terrible pun – the true shot in the arm continues to be how effectively the vaccine rolls out.


Some exhibitors have volunteered their spaces to speed things along. Stone Theatres (part of Screenvision’s footprint in both North Carolina and South Carolina) have re-opened and re-purposed their property as vaccination sites. Theater operator Dale Coleman has encouraged the National Association of Theatre Owners to follow suit: “The sooner vaccines are made widely available, the sooner communities across the country, and the movie theaters that serve them can return to normal life.”


We highlighted how some of the largest exhibitors in the nation are weathering the storm last week: both Cinemark and Marcus maintain that they can be financially on track this year. The largest chain of all, AMC, has avoided bankruptcy four times in the past nine months. And today marks the fifth! This morning, AMC succeeded in executing a financing package tied to Odeon, a European exhibitor owned by AMC. According to AMC, this would extend its financial runway deep in 2021 – assuming theater attendance picks up the way analysts are predicting. 


To their credit, AMC was the first to accept Universal’s shortened theatrical window deal and put up with backlash from fellow theater chains. Regal Cinemas, the second largest chain in America, called it the “wrong move at the wrong time”. Since then, Cinemark and Cineplex have followed AMC, and Regal is “now in talks with Universal for a similar arrangement”.


Finally, lets reel our focus back to this weekend’s box-office. New release, The Marksman, picked up another $2M, a drop of 35% from its opening weekend, for a total of $6M. The Croods: A New Age held on to 91% of its box-office from last weekend to take second place with a running total of $41M. Wonder Woman 1984took third, now with a running total of $37M in the last weekend where it was also available on HBO Max. Going forward, Wonder Woman will be exclusively in theaters for 31 days.

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