August 24, 2021
By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Three months after Hollywood launched a advertising blitz that proclaimed “the massive display screen is again,” the Delta variant of the coronavirus has interrupted cinema’s rebound from the pandemic.
Studio executives and movie show operators, assembly this week in Las Vegas for the annual CinemaCon conference, hoped to reignite moviegoing this summer season. After encouraging turnouts for motion flicks similar to Marvel’s “Black Widow” and “Quick & Livid” franchise film “F9,” latest U.S. and Canadian ticket gross sales have underwhelmed.
“The one viewers that appears to be occurring a constant foundation is 18- to 35-(yr olds),” mentioned Jeff Bock, senior media analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co.
With 4 new extensive releases, home field workplace totals this previous weekend slumped to $63 million, their smallest since June. No weekend within the pre-pandemic occasions of 2019 got here in that low.
The Delta variant is hurting ticket gross sales, executives and analysts mentioned, particularly when studios have opted to supply some movies concurrently on streaming.
“Avid moviegoers are going,” mentioned one distribution govt who requested to stay nameless. “Extra informal moviegoers aren’t. They’re gradual to return.”
Studios have shuffled launch calendars and postponed some motion pictures a number of occasions through the pandemic. Business executives mentioned they count on ups and downs earlier than the market returns to regular.
“I believe it’s going to have its challenges for the following one to 2 months,” mentioned Chris Aronson, president of home distribution at ViacomCBS Inc’s Paramount Photos.
On the brilliant facet, Ryan Reynolds comedy “Free Man” stunned with strong second-weekend grosses over the weekend, and animated household movie “Paw Patrol” generated extra box-office enterprise than anticipated although it additionally streamed on Paramount+. Vaccines haven’t been permitted for teenagers below 12. Non-public leases, the place households booked a complete theater, boosted “Paw Patrol,” Aronson mentioned.
Theater operators, together with AMC Leisure, Cineworld Plc and Cinemark Holdings, are projecting optimism. Executives level to James Bond film “No Time to Die,” Marvel movie “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” horror flick “Halloween Kills,” and sci-fi epic “Dune,” all at present slated to mild up screens in October. Additionally they predict a robust 2022.
“It’s not been simple, however it isn’t doom and gloom,” mentioned Wealthy Daughtridge, who runs Warehouse Cinemas in Maryland and serves as president of the Impartial Cinema Alliance. “There may be this mild on the finish of the tunnel.”
Daughtridge mentioned he plans to open two new areas within the subsequent six months, an indication of his confidence out there.
The following huge take a look at is the Sept. 3 launch “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which Walt Disney Co is sending completely to theaters. The movie is Marvel’s first superhero movie with a predominantly Asian forged.
Studios will rigorously watch “Shang-Chi” to gauge whether or not to postpone different movies or add streaming choices alongside theatrical runs, Bock mentioned.
If receipts for “Shang-Chi” crater within the second and third weeks, as different movies have this summer season, Bock mentioned, “then growth, launch dates will change and the carousel occurs once more.”
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; enhancing by Jonathan Oatis)