US CINEMA CHAINS TO CLOSE, AMAZON PRIME AT 200M SUBSCRIBERS, EUROPEAN SVOD USERS TO REACH 234M.
FILM INDUSTRY NEWS WEEKLY DIGEST, SUNDAY APRIL 18TH
ArcLight Cinemas, Pacific Theatres chain closing down
It emerged on Monday evening (April 12) that ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres have closed down.
The news sparked immediate speculation over whether a streaming platform or studio might step in and buy the Pacific Theatres chain, which is owned by Decurion Corporation and operated 16 sites and around 300 screens mostly on the West Coast.
Venues included Cinerama Dome, a Hollywood icon that opened on Sunset Boulevard in 1963 and made an appearance in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and, tucked away behind it, ArcLight Hollywood, a prestigious multi-screen venue that presented mainstream releases, arthouse programming, and awards season screenings and events.
‘F9’ Revs Up May 21 China Release; Further Overseas Markets Will Also Start Engines Ahead Of Domestic
Fuel-injecting some mega-muscle into the international box office landscape, Universal’s F9 has been set for a May 21 release date in China, a full five weeks before it is due to speed out domestically on June 25. But China won’t be the only overseas market to release early, as I hear several other key hubs are also going throughout the month of May including Korea (which will kick things off on May 19), Russia, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam.
The early offshore release dates reflect the recovery of — and confidence in — overseas markets, notably in Asia, where it’s been demonstrated that audiences are eager to return to cinemas when there is significant product available.
‘Lord of the Rings’ Films Finalize China Re-Release Dates
The films have now been pushed back a week. “Fellowship” is set to hit April 16 and “The Two Towers” on April 23, while a date for “Return of the King” remains undetermined. All three films will screen in restored 4K versions, in honor of the series’ 20th anniversary...In past years, this period has been a prime slot for the premiere of big Hollywood blockbusters — but there simply aren’t that many of them this year given the number that have delayed their global releases due to COVID.
‘The Lord Of the Rings’: Blockbuster Budget For Season 1 Is Revealed
The first season of Amazon Studios’ sprawling The Lord Of the Rings series will cost $465 million to produce. The record-breaking figure was revealed Friday when New Zealand, where the series is shooting, announced that the rebate for the series from the country’s Screen Production Grant is being increased from 20% to 25% ($116 million).
Amazon Prime Tops 200 Million Members, Jeff Bezos Says
Amazon Prime, the ecommerce giant’s membership program that includes access to Prime Video, now counts more than 200 million subscribers globally, founder Jeff Bezos wrote in his final annual letter to shareholders as CEO. Bezos most recently had announced that Amazon Prime had topped 150 million members in January 2020. The company rarely releases such metrics and doesn’t break out the number of Prime members by country or region, nor has it revealed specific numbers about Prime Video viewership.
Netflix Reports South Korea Profit Jump in Rare Public Disclosure
Netflix this week published its results for its South Korean division — a rare look under the hood of the streamer's business, prompted by new public reporting laws — showing that it made a slim operating profit of $7.5 million (8.82 billion won) on revenues of $356 million (415.45 billion won), a margin of just over 2 percent. And Netflix is far ahead of all of its competitors in the region, as it is in most international territories. The streaming giant says it topped 3.8 million paid subscribers in South Korea as of the end of last year and has pledged to spend more than $500 million on films and series in the territory this year alone.
The number of SVOD subscriptions in Western Europe will reach 234 million by 2026.
This, according to the latest report published by Digital TV Research, will be up from 137 million at the end of 2020. Despite losing market share, Netflix will remain the largest SVOD platform, with 74 million paying subscribers by 2026 – up by 20 million on 2020.
Disney+ will become the second largest platform in 2025. Now available in most Western European countries, it will have 55 million paying subscribers by 2026, up by 36 million on 2020. HBO Max will launch in the six countries where it already has operations – the Nordic countries, Portugal and Spain – before the end of 2021. However, HBO Max will not start in some key European countries due to existing exclusive contracts.
Netflix To Open Bogota Office, Reveals $175M Local Spend Since 2014
Netflix is to open an office in Bogota, Colombia, this year, the streamer has announced. The studio said today that through 2022, it will have more than 30 new projects which include the already announced Ritmo Salvaje, Locombianos, Juanpis, Nada Es Igual, a comedy show starring Alejandra Azcárate, Goles en Contra, Pálpito, Perfil Falso, Diomedes and Chichipatos Season 2. Netflix also stated today that it has invested more than $175M dollars in local content since 2014 through this year.
Europe and South America Overtake North America in TV Consumption
“Globally you see that TV consumption remains very stable since 1982. The difference comes from the different regions,” explained Glance VP Frédéric Vaulpré. “What is striking is to see that now, the number one region in terms of TV consumption is Europe, followed by South America.”
'Falcon and Winter Soldier' Makes Solid Debut in Nielsen Streaming Rankings
The Disney+ series starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan racked up 495 million minutes of viewing time for the week of March 15-21...The series also drew a bit more viewing time than Disney+'s previous Marvel show, WandaVision, whose January debut drew 434 million minutes of watch time. The 495 million minutes for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier equates to an audience of about 9.9 million accounts, based on the 50-minute running time of the premiere episode.
To Binge or Not to Binge: Inside Streamers' Scheduling Decisions
What data there is in the relatively opaque realm of streaming performance suggests both binge releases and weekly rollouts can work. Nielsen's weekly compilations of total viewing time — the broadest available measure of streaming usage, albeit with its own limitations — show that while Netflix's all-at-once releases tend to result in big premieres and heavy dropoffs a couple weeks later, weekly releases can have longer lives in the top 10.
The batch release isn't likely to migrate to Netflix's scripted shows in the near future. Disney+, on the other hand, has benefited from weekly releases for high-profile scripted shows like The Mandalorian and WandaVision, while most of its unscripted originals drop all at once. Gabriel Lewis, senior vp content curation and programming at Disney+, noted that since the service launched with a huge catalog of programming, "and that library allows us to follow a more traditional weekly cadence for the original scripted series." "Our goal at launch really was to build our fan base by releasing content on a weekly schedule, thinking that with titles like The Mandalorian and WandaVision, those are examples where we felt a weekly drop schedule would build anticipation and it would allow viewers to experience the rollout of a series together."
The 11-month-old HBO Max, meanwhile, has experimented with several strategies, releasing shows all at once, in batches (including The Flight Attendant and Love Life) and weekly (Doom Patrol's second season debuted with three episodes, followed by one each over the following six weeks). "We are still in learning mode. We are still experimenting with what works best for our subscribers," said Meredith Gertler, executive vp content strategy and planning for HBO Max. "And we certainly don’t believe the same rules apply necessarily across genre, so it is about taking more of a bespoke strategy that takes into account the creative and the nature of the programming."
The available data shows that both the binge and slower release models can get lots of eyes on a show. WandaVision, for example, added viewing time for six straight weeks following a small dip the week after its premiere, according to Nielsen figures for total minutes of viewing time....Netflix hit Bridgerton — which the company says is its biggest show ever by its own internal metrics — has had unusual staying power for a binge-release show, staying above a billion minutes of watch time for five weeks and totaling 10.65 billion minutes over 10 weeks. More typical is a show like Firefly Lane, which ranked first overall on the Nielsen charts for two weeks before dropping by 39 percent in week three and an additional 51 percent in week four. It fell out of the top 10 original series after five weeks.
(Streaming services contend that Nielsen, which measures only U.S. viewing, doesn't capture the full global reach of their programming. Nielsen also only provides figures for Amazon's Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu and Netflix. On the other hand, streamers release little to none of their own viewing data.)
Disney+ Unveils First U.K. Scripted Slate
The three new projects announced Thursday — one Disney-branded and one for its new Star label — include The Ballad of Renegade Nell, an adventure series set in the 18th century, written by the multi-BAFTA Award-winning writer Wainwright. The series follows "swashbuckling highwaywoman" Nell Jackson, who is forced into a life of robbery when she's framed for murder...Star Original commission Culprits is a darkly comic thriller series from acclaimed filmmaker J Blakeson (I Care a Lot, The Disappearance of Alice Creed), following what happens after a heist, when the crew have gone their separate ways and are being targeted by a killer one-by-one...Extraordinary is a Star Original comedy created by new talent Emma Moran following Jen, a young, self-aware woman who lives in a world where everyone has a superpower, except her.
Movie Theater Analysts See Strong Box Office Rebound In 2022, Uptick In 2023 As Consumer Poll Shows Covid-19 Concerns Dissipating
One of the analysts, Eric Handler at MKM Partners, released findings from a survey his firm did of 1,000 moviegoers across the U.S. People who said they went to at least one movie a year before Covid-19, were polled between March 31 to April 4. Asked if they plan to return to a movie theater in the near future, 57% of respondents said yes and only 14% said no, with 29% not sure.
The timing of when exactly they will go back depends on variables like the vaccine rollout. About 46% indicated a return in the next three months, but over six months the number rose to 72%. That pattern, Handler wrote, “sets the industry up well as it looks ahead to 2022.”