NATO Chief Avers “End Of Tunnel, Beginning Of Light” For Theaters; John Fithian, Charlie Rivkin Talk Biz Rebound, Piracy, Streaming On CinemaCon Eve

cinemacon The launch on Monday at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the second in-person gathering of theater owners and Hollywood studios since August, and COVID. That version was overshadowed by the Delta version, ongoing theater closures, and shifting release dates. Now the picture is much brighter. Domestic presence at confab, including a full complement of studio heads, is at a pre-pandemic level (international is still a bit soft given the challenges in some markets). Movie trends are on the rise and the release screed seems complete and steady. nato Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Fithian And Mpa Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin Deadline was questioned on the evolving post-Covid scenario and the relationship between the two camps. (Some responses have been summarized and edited for clarity.)

deadline: Compare past CinemaCon with what you’re anticipating this coming week. What has changed in the studio/exhibition ecosystem?

Fithian: This show comes at a really important and historic time in our business. We’ve been hit with movies over and over again, theaters on and off, and right now, just starting a few weeks ago, when the full slate of movies were back for the rest of the year. CinemaCon will showcase content from upcoming movies, we’ll see directors and studios and talent talking about it, showing off their presence that they’re excited about. A lot of film material is coming from now till the end of the year. The youth came back, the families showed up sonic the hedgehog 2, This is the end of the tunnel and the beginning of light. This is a takeoff point for the industry’s resurgence.

rivkin: I think CinemaCon 2022 will confirm what we already know – that the motion picture production and movie theater industry is one of the biggest challenges facing us in a century now. On the studio side, we are seeing a strong recovery for production. Last year, around 950 films entered production, which also breaks pre-pandemic records. We have seen a growth of 16% as compared to 2019 and a jump of 40% as compared to 2017. Much of that recovery has evolved from the robust and effective health and safety protocols that our collective industry implemented in the early months of the pandemic to keep our workforce. As safe as possible and production is up and running.

deadline: What gives you both the confidence to look forward?

Fithian: Slate is fairly stable. We do not see any further changes in the release schedule due to the pandemic. The effects of covid were two: one was on the desire of the customer, the other one, the product – so even after consumers are ready to come back Spider-Man: No Way Home, We missed films in January and February due to delay in production schedule. Now consumers are ready to come back, and the movies are complete, and ready to be shown. We have struggled to receive and open product safely. We are not like a restaurant, a local business that can serve food as soon as it opens. We need to keep everything open everywhere. We serve a global product that is now back.

rivkena: Theatrical market is rebounding globally. Last year, the global box office was $21.3 billion, up 81% from 2020, and the US and Canada box office more than doubled in that time frame, reaching $4.5 billion. While those numbers are still well below pre-pandemic levels, they suggest there is still ample room for growth. I think all studios and exhibitors should be optimistic about the future. Spider-Man: There Was No Way Home The third highest-grossing American film of all time at the box office. This trend continued into 2022 Batman To achieve the second highest US box office since the start of the pandemic. globally, movies like Battle of Changjin Lake, Hi Mom, F9, And no time to die Brought the audience to theaters in large numbers.

deadline: Theft. I know you’ll be speaking on that, can we preview it?

Rivkin: Piracy remains a potential threat to the creative community – full stop. It affects all of us – studios, exhibitors and consumers. But as I will say during my address to the industry on Tuesday, the Motion Picture Association—and our global anti-piracy alliance, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE)—have made great strides in combating massive piracy operations. Due to which this danger has arisen. ACE is now a 24-hour service with a strong global reach, enabling response teams to be deployed anywhere. We’ve removed sites around the world that offer thousands of movies and TV and receive millions of visits per month.

And we’re making progress — for example, in North America, from a high 1,400 illegal websites and streaming subscription services in 2019, our antipiracy campaign has grown that number to a little over 200. This number is still very high, but we are heading in the right direction. We are proud that both Amazon and Apple are members of ACE’s Governing Board, ensuring that they are both integral partners in our fight against piracy.

Fithian: It is a big deal to talk about piracy, as the figures that came out of the pandemic showed that simultaneous release of films in theaters and at home is the worst case scenario. A pirate camcorder is one movie and it’s one thing to try to release it. It’s another matter when a clean digital version becomes available. Piracy goes crazy when pirates find a digital copy. Both sides lose money. If you look at windows and movies with simultaneous releases, the staying power of the former is dramatically better in the second, third and fourth weeks.

deadline: What about specialty film? There’s this drumbeat out there that, yes, theaters matter, but mostly for the big franchises.

Fithian: I think development is going to come as much for small budget films as it is for blockbusters. Blockbusters, when we met them during the pandemic, worked. Spider Man, deeply concerned, Special, mid-budget films that appeal to older audiences or families or specific audiences are harder to work with. but then of sound family meet, dog And unsolved, which are not big blockbuster films, did business. I’m so excited to be mid-budget and featuring Damien Chazelle babylon to Steven Spielberg fabelmens To a man called Otto With Tom Hanks and Olivia Wilde don’t worry darling Four examples of films are in the pipeline and the directors are very excited to bring them to theaters with a bigger window. Older audiences and those with young children were the most challenging, but are now most excited to be back. They wanted to be safe and it was okay to stay at home, but it’s not like they liked it. Now his confidence is coming back. with the duke And Downton Abbey: A New Era, We are targeting movies for every demo.

Besides, watching a movie leads to forgetting to watch a movie as well. When people first visit, they watch a whole bunch of trailers and talk about what’s coming. Advertising inside cinema is incredibly important to keep people coming back. We haven’t got that opportunity because of stop and start and fallout periods and not a consistent supply of product. We are not all about blockbusters. (Even though it’s a huge year for those Doctor Strange, Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic Word Dominion, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Avatar 2,

rivkin: Audiences crave and appreciate great storytelling, and there is room for everyone in this industry. It is not an either or approach, but great stories lift all boats. All parts of our collective industry are important – whether you are watching a franchise film on the big screen or an independent film in an arthouse, or watching a film at home. All parts of our ecosystem thrive as a result of great stories told on screen.

deadline: Can you comment on streaming and the state of the relationship between the MPA and NATO?

Rivkin: The MPA’s ties with NATO have never been stronger. During the pandemic, our extended family – including the MPA, NATO, studios, unions and guilds, independent filmmakers – worked together to get through the worst of us. And we continue to work closely together on a range of issues that require our collective input and focus – whether it is economic stimulus, pandemic response or reducing global piracy operations that threaten our industry. be the initiative.

MPA is screen agnostic, but we join NATO in recognizing the vital and undeniable importance of movie theaters in providing an unparalleled movie viewing experience to audiences around the world. We believe that people should be able to enjoy great TV and movies on any screen of their choice, and we appreciate that there is nothing quite like watching movies on the big screen. It’s important to remember that streaming and theater can and do flourish together. Data commissioned by NATO shows that streaming platforms do not pull large numbers of moviegoers out of cinemas, because those who visit cinemas more frequently also consume streaming content more frequently.

Fithian: Streaming is a very complicated discussion. People describe streaming services as basically cannibals. We see streaming and theatricals as supporting each other in principle, and studies show this. Now the short-term problem is that the streaming world isn’t all about making money. They’re putting content on streaming services because that’s Wall Street’s golden eye. It’s not about making the most money. If you start a movie theatrically and it does well and gets established as a brand when it hits your streaming service, it garners more eyeballs and business. If you drop them on a service first they are lost. People can’t find them. There are 10,000 options. What makes the film a theatrical release. Even studios are going to realize that with their own streamers.

Apple and Amazon are different, they are not trying to make money on movies. Amazon is trying to get you to buy groceries and use Prime Video.

But there are many services. People won’t pay for all of that. studio will [eventually go back] For the business model that makes them money. Not for pre-pandemic windows, but it doesn’t have to be. The good news is that studios and theater owners are now talking.