Headlines Newsletter, 5/13/2024

Theatrical Experience

The Hollywood Reporter: The Summer Popcorn Wars: How Movie Theaters Prep for the Busy Season

Cinema operators work with hundreds of third-parties to get the job done, and are always on the hunt for the shiniest new enticement, such as a robotic cotton candy machine that let’s customers chose not only custom flavors, but custom designs. “Theaters partner with a wide array of vendors who are doing some really exciting and interesting new things to update every element of the theatrical experience,” National Association of Theatre Owners president-CEO Michael O’Leary says.

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Release Calendar

Variety: ’28 Years Later’ Gets June 2025 Release Date

Danny Boyle’s “28 Years Later” is hitting the big screen next summer. Sony Pictures has slated the long-awaited project for June 20, 2025.

Jodie Comer, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Ralph Fiennes are set to star in the sequel to “28 Days Later” and “28 Weeks Later.”

Plot details are still being kept under wraps for the new screenplay, written by Alex Garland. It will be part of an upcoming trilogy, for which Nia DaCosta is in talks to direct the second film.

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Headlines Newsletter, 5/7/2024

NOTE: Inclusion of articles in the newsletter DOES NOT equal an endorsement by NATO

Distribution

NBC News: Disney to cap the number of Marvel movies it releases each year as it doubles down on ‘quality’

Disney will release no more than three Marvel films and up to two Disney+ shows each year going forward as it works to place more focus on quality output.

The announcement by CEO Bob Iger comes as Disney shares plunged 8% in Tuesday trading following the release of the entertainment giant’s quarterly earnings.

This year will see the release of just one Marvel film: “Deadpool and Wolverine” starring Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman, slated for a July 26 release.

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[SUBSCRIPTION] Puck: Apple’s Come-to-Jesus Moment for Movies

I’m pleased to report, however, that Cook and Cue didn’t pull the plug on theaters in that meeting, and Cook was clear in his continued support for Apple TV+ in general—or at least, that’s what Van Amburg and Erlicht have been telling people, both internally and externally. (An Apple rep declined to comment on their behalf.) I’m told the Apple leaders did prod Zack and Jamie to explain how the company can become smarter in its theatrical endeavors—which, at least by traditional metrics, haven’t gone great. Lessons were learned, the duo promised, data was collected, and it’s early—the two career TV guys will figure this theater thing out.  

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Streaming

Variety: Disney’s Entertainment Streaming Business Ekes Out Surprise Profit as Disney+ Core Subscribers Top 117 Million

Disney‘s entertainment streaming segment, anchored by Disney+, scored its first profitable quarter, helping to partially offset continued weakness in the media conglomerate’s linear TV business for the first three months of 2024.

To be sure, Disney’s overall streaming business was still in the red for the quarter when factoring in ESPN+, which had an operating loss of $65 million. The company reiterated its expectation that its combined streaming operations will achieve profitability in the September 2024 quarter.

Overall, Disney revenue for the quarter ended March 30 was in line with Wall Street expectations, while it beat on adjusted earnings per share. The Mouse House’s results got their biggest lift from the theme parks division, where revenue rose 10% and operating income was up 14%. Disney’s theatrical revenue dropped year over year “as there were no significant titles released” in the quarter, and revenue in the linear networks segment declined 8%.

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Headlines Newsletter, 4/25/2024

NOTE: Inclusion of articles in the newsletter DOES NOT equal an endorsement by NATO

Release Schedule

Deadline: Ishana Night Shyamalan’s Horror Pic ‘The Watchers’ Moves Back To Original Release Date – Update

Ishana Night Shyamalan’s debut film is on the move, again. And the new date is a familiar one. Two months after Warner Bros. shuffled The Watchers back by a week to the June 14-16 Fathers Day frame, the pic is headed back to its original June 7 date.

It’ll have some action-packed company that Friday, going against Sony’s Bad Boys: Ride or Die, the long-gestating fourth film in the nearly 30-year-old franchise. Lionsgate’s The Crow remake also was set for June 7, but that pic flew away from the date about three weeks ago and now is set for August 23.

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Deadline: DreamWorks Animation’s ‘The Wild Robot’ Will Go One Week Later In The Fall

DreamWorks Animation’s The Wild Robot will now go on Sept. 27 instead of Sept. 20.

The move comes in the wake of Paramount’s animated Transformers One parking on Sept. 20 (instead of Sept. 13) as the studio needed to get a foothold on Imax auditoriums.

We heard that Transformers One was moved to get further away from Beetlejuice Beetlejuice as that Warner Bros Tim Burton directed, Michael Keaton starring sequel is expected to scare up a ton of September cash; that movie opening on Sept. 6.

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Streaming

The Hollywood Reporter: Peacock Quarterly Loss Narrows to $639M as Streamer Hits 34M Subscribers

Peacock, the streaming service of Comcast’s entertainment unit NBCUniversal, grew its first-quarter revenue and narrowed its loss to $639 million from $704 million in the year-ago period, and $825 million in the fourth quarter of 2023, despite higher programming costs. The streamer ended March with 34 paying subscribers, compared with a year-end 2023 figure of 31 million, the company also said on Thursday.

“Peacock paid subscribers increased 55 percent compared to the prior-year period to 34 million, including net additions of 3 million in the first quarter,” Comcast highlighted. “Peacock revenue increased 54 percent to $1.1 billion.”

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IMAX

Variety: Imax Q1 Revenue Drops 9%, Earnings Beat Wall Street Estimates on Lift From ‘Dune 2’

Imax fans turned up in droves to see “Dune 2” on the really big screen, helping the company top analyst earnings estimates for the first quarter of 2024.

Despite the sandworm bump, it was a tough compare with the year-ago period when Imax benefited from the blockbuster success of “Avatar: The Way of Water” in 2023 to deliver its highest-grossing Q1 to date. Revenue in the first quarter of 2024 was $79.1 million, down 9% year over year, while net income was $3.3 million (an adjusted 15 cents per share), up 33%.

During the most recent quarter, Warner Bros.’ “Dune: Part Two” became one of the Top 10 Imax releases of all time. The Denis Villeneuve-directed sci-fi epic has garnered more than $143 million at the global box office to date on Imax screens — representing 21% of the film’s total gross receipts.

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Marketing

Variety: Movie Marketing Chiefs Talk ‘Barbenheimer’ Effect, Handling Reboots and the Primacy of Trailers at Variety’s Entertainment Marketing Summit

Goldstine noted the ante for theatrical films has been raised by “an extra $100 billion worth of streaming content that has entered the marketplace” since about 2017. Dwight Caines, president of domestic marketing for Universal Pictures, concurred: “Our movies have to be undeniably an event — big screen, immersive experiences that get you off the couch.”

So did Marc Weinstock, president of worldwide marketing and distribution for Paramount Pictures. “You got to be so undeniable that the infrequent moviegoer says, ‘Yeah, I wasn’t thinking about this, I hear it’s really good. The reviews look great. It’s everywhere in culture.’”

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[SUBSCRIPTION] The Ankler: Marketing Mojo! 5 Studio Stunts that Struck Gold

The battle of Hollywood is no longer just about dividing up the audience pie, it’s about luring audiences away from other entertainment choices. If this project is to continue, it’s no longer good enough to win the biggest slice of the viewers we have. You have to lure in new ones, or entice waning viewers back — find new voters, as they put it in political parlance.

And we have to keep doing it over and over and over — probably forever —because the competition from social media-led viewing isn’t getting any smaller.

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Headlines Newsletter, 4/15/2024

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Box Office

Deadline: Warner Bros Tops $1B At International Box Office In Own Record Time; First Studio To Milestone In 2024

Led by Dune: Part Two and Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, Warner Bros has crossed the $1B mark at the international box office, becoming the first studio to reach the milestone this year. Getting there in just 15 weeks, this also sets a new speed record for WB, besting the 17 weeks it took in 2018. The full international estimate through today is $1.04B.

The studio’s biggest releases this year so far are WB/Legendary Entertainment’s Dune: Part Two which has grossed $411.8M offshore through today, with the global cume at $683.9M. WB opened the Denis Villeneuve-directed sequel in 78 markets, with Legendary East handling distribution in China.  Dune: Part Two was the No. 1 film both internationally and globally three weekends in a row.

Variety: Box Office: ‘Civil War’ Sets A24 Record With $25 Million Debut

Director Alex Garland’s provocative dystopian thriller “Civil War” lit up the box office with $25.7 million in its debut. It’s the first A24 movie to lead the charts in North America, setting an opening weekend record for the New York-based specialty studio. It also marks the biggest R-rated start of the year.

Headlines Newsletter, 4/9/2024

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NOTE: Inclusion of articles in the newsletter DOES NOT equal an endorsement by NATO

CinemaCon

Screen Daily: CinemaCon: NATO’s Michael O’Leary urges investment in theatres, MPA’s Charles Rivkin fiery on piracy

O’Leary urged investors to support exhibition and touched on what is already shaping up to be a signature theme of his tenure – support for the independent sector and lower budget cinema.

“Getting more capital into the system will benefit everyone – creatives, studios, exhibition, local communities and, most importantly, movie fans,” O’Leary told attendees at The Colosseum.

“Movies on the big screen benefit everyone. More compelling movies bring more movie fans to the theatre, which in turn increases the desire of consumers to return and see what is coming next. Everyone wins.”

The NATO president and CEO continued: “We should always support partners and marketplace decisions that increase movie production and put more movies with a clear, exclusive theatrical run and marketing support into your cinemas.

“We know that a movie that begins its journey with theatrical exclusivity is more successful in every subsequent ancillary platform.”

Variety: Theater Owners Chief Warns Studios Against Relying on Blockbusters: ‘A Variety of Movies’ Is ‘Critical’ for Box Office

Michael O’Leary, the new president and CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners, is encouraging Hollywood to think smaller.

Don’t get him wrong — he loves Marvel, “Mission: Impossible” and “Fast & Furious” as much as the next exhibitor. But O’Leary is urging the major studios to prioritize more than just the tentpole properties that prop up the box office. He believes that a “variety of movies that appeal to moviegoers is critical” to the survival of the box office.

“It is not enough to rely solely on blockbusters — we must have a strong and vibrant market for movies with smaller or medium-sized budgets,” he said on Tuesday morning at CinemaCon, the exhibition trade show held annually in Las Vegas. He pointed to last year’s offerings of Cord Jefferson’s Oscar-winning literary satire “American Fiction,” romantic drama “Past Lives” and Japanese action-adventure “Godzilla Minus One” as recent examples of mid-budget successes.

Headlines Newsletter, 4/8/2024

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CinemaCon

TheWrap: NATO President Michael O’Leary Stresses Need for Exhibitors to Promote ‘Small and Mid-Budget Movies’

[The Wrap] The mantra from exhibition since theaters reopened has been, “We need more movies.” But is there any particular sector of the film ecosystem that you think theaters need to see more of to get business to back to where it needs to be?

[Michael O’Leary] I would answer that in two ways. One is that it’s not just putting movies in theaters, it’s movies in theaters that have a clear period of theatrical exclusivity and are supported by marketing. The second part of it, which I think more directly answers your question and is one of the things I’m going to talk about at CinemaCon, is the need to make sure that we have a variety of films to meet the movie going public where they are and are the types of things that they want to see.

With that in mind, a big task for us as exhibitors to tackle is what we can do to help promote those small and mid-budget movies. How can we help our friends in distribution to promote them, get people aware that they can see them on the big screen and actually want to see them there? It’s not really a specific genre we need to see more of, it’s just that we need to get the word out to people that the wide range of movies that they want to see in theaters are out there.

Headlines Newsletter, 4/5/2024

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NOTE: Inclusion of articles in the newsletter DOES NOT equal an endorsement by NATO

Distribution

The Hollywood Reporter: Amy Adams-Starrer ‘Nightbitch’ Sets December 2024 Release Only in Theaters

Amy Adams-vehicle Nightbitch, starring Amy Adams, has landed a Dec. 6, 2024, release in cinemas during the heart of awards season. The Searchlight Pictures and Annapurna film was originally intended to debut on Hulu, but will now get a theatrical release.

The project is from Marielle Heller, the actress-turned-filmmaker whose helming credits include 2015’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Melissa McCarthy art-forgery dramedy Can You Ever Forgive Me?, also from Searchlight.


Variety: Disney Sets ‘Star Wars’ Movie ‘The Mandalorian & Grogu,’ ‘Toy Story 5’ and Live-Action ‘Moana’ for 2026 Release Dates

It’s going to take a live action version of “Moana” a little longer to swim to shore than Disney first expected. The film, originally slated to open in 2025, has been pushed back to July 10, 2026.


Headlines Newsletter, 4/3/2024

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NOTE: Inclusion of articles in the newsletter DOES NOT equal an endorsement by NATO

Distribution

Variety: National Amusements and Paramount Global Close to Setting an Exclusive Window for Acquisition Talks with Skydance Media

Paramount Global and its parent company are moving closer to an agreement with Skydance Media for an exclusive window for acquisition negotiations as Shari Redstone and David Ellison inch toward a deal to bring their companies together in a three-way transaction.

Deadline: Disney Fends Off Nelson Peltz After Bitter Proxy Fight As Shareholders Back Company Board

Disney has succeeded in keeping Nelson Peltz off its board of directors as more shareholders at the company’s hotly anticipated annual meeting today voted for the company’s nominees that for the two candidates put forward by Peltz’ investment firm Trian — Peltz himself and former Disney executive Jay Rasulo

Voting closed last night and the result, following a bitter and expensive proxy, is certainly a major relief to Disney and CEO Bob Iger, who have insisted for months that Peltz brought nothing new to the table strategically and would just be a distraction for management at complex time in the media and entertainment industry and, a delicate moment for the company, which is in the midst of a turnaround. It also slammed Peltz’ ties with Ike Perlmutter, who contributed his significant stake in Disney to Trian’s efforts. The company said the alliance was a conflict of interest since the businessman who sold Marvel to Disney had clashed with Iger and was fired.


The Hollywood Reporter: Bob Iger: Disney’s Job Is “Not to Advance Any Kind of Agenda”

Asked whether Disney would stay out of politics, CEO Bob Iger said that the company is not out to “advance any kind of agenda,” but rather is focused on entertainment.

“Our job is to entertain first and foremost, and by telling great stories, we continue to have a positive impact on the world and inspire future generations, just as we’ve done for over 100 years. Disney has always been and will continue to be a source of hope, joy and optimism for people of all ages. We’re committed to telling stories that reflect the world around us and using those stories to entertain people from all walks of life,” Iger said during the company’s annual shareholder meeting Wednesday.

“I’ve always believed that we have a responsibility to do good in the world. But we know our job is not to advance any kind of agenda. So as long as I’m in the job, I’m going to continue to be guided by a sense of decency and respect. And we will always trust our instincts,” he continued.

Headlines Newsletter, 4/1/2024

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Release Calendar

Deadline: Blumhouse’s ‘Wolf Man’ Runs From Fall To MLK Weekend 2025; ‘The Woman In The Yard’ Unset For Now

Leigh Whannell’s reimaging of Universal classic The Wolf Man from Blumhouse is dashing from its Oct. 25 release date this year to January 17, 2025.

As previously reported Julia Garner, Christopher Abbott and Sam Jaeger star in the movie which is currently being shot in New Zealand.

Deadline: David Robert Mitchell’s IMAX “Thrill-Ride” Starring Anne Hathaway & Ewan McGregor Sets Title, Release Date

Warner Bros. Pictures and Bad Robot on Friday revealed Flowervale Street to be the title of David Robert Mitchell‘s new film, starring Anne Hathaway, Ewan McGregor, Maisy Stella, and Christian Convery, announcing that it will open in IMAX on May 16, 2025.

Currently, only M3GAN 2.0 is scheduled for that weekend.

Headlines Newsletter, 3/28/2024

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NOTE: Inclusion of articles in the newsletter DOES NOT equal an endorsement by NATO

Release Calendar

Deadline: Dennis Quaid Starrer ‘Reagan’ Strikes North American Deal With Newly Launched ShowBiz Direct

Director Sean McNamara‘s Reagan, the first full-length feature on the 40th U.S. President, starring Dennis Quaid, has been picked up for North American distribution by ShowBiz Direct.

This will be the debut release from the recently launched studio which is led by exhibition veteran Kevin Mitchell, former Lionsgate distribution president Richie Fay, and the former co-president of Open Road distribution, Scott Kennedy. Pic is slated to hit theaters on August 30.