Boxoffice Pro - August 2020

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The Official Magazine of the National Association of Theatre Owners

$6.95 // August April 2020

INTERMISSION

The impact of Covid-19

on the cinema industry

The Official Magazine of the National Association of Theatre Owners


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April 2020

03


Photo Credit: Dean Rogers. Courtesy Searchlight Pictures

82

What the Dickens!

The Personal History

of David Copperfield

hits the big screen

August 2020

CONTENTS

16

Covid-19 & Cinemas

A timeline of the first six

months of the crisis

48

The Next Big Thing

The origins of cinema

entertainment centers in

the United States

62

Drive-In Summer

Drive-ins experience a

renaissance as audiences

return to theaters outdoors

76

The Sounds Of Silence

Interview with the sound

editors behind Paramount's

A Quiet Place Part II

April 2020

05


CONTENTS

INDUSTRY THEATER ON SCREEN

12

16

30

38

NATO

Bringing back the moviegoing

experience

Covid-19 & Cinemas

A timeline of the first six months

of the crisis

Charity Spotlight

A recap of industry-wide charity

initiatives

Guest Column

Can cinemas win back audiences

after Covid-19 shutdowns?

48

62

70

The Next Big Thing

The origins of cinema entertainment

centers in the United States

Drive-In Summer

Drive-ins experience a renaissance

as audiences return to theaters

outdoors—while keeping their

distance

Remembering Our

Hometown Theaters

Boxoffice Pro staff look back at

their hometown movie theaters

76

82

88

96

The Sounds Of Silence

Interview with the sound editors

behind Paramount's A Quiet Place

Part II

What the Dickens!

The Personal History of David

Copperfield hits the big screen

Coming Attractions

Upcoming wide releases

Event Cinema

Event cinema responds to the

Covid-19 programming gaps

40

A Century in Exhibition

The 1960s: The collapse of the

studio system

100

Long-Range Forecast

Tentatively Tenet: Forecasting

future box office when no

existing models apply

105

Booking Guide

“Our coordinated efforts

to get the public back into

movie theaters will make the

difference in our industry,

which I am certain will return

stronger than ever.”

p.12

06 August 2020


20

AUG

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THE TECH


BOXOFFICE MEDIA

CEO

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Chris Vickers & Craig Scott

at She Was Only

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BOXOFFICE PRO

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CONTRIBUTORS

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Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen

Boxoffice Pro (ISSN 0006-8527), Volume 156, Number 5, August 2020. Boxoffice Pro

is published by Box Office Media LLC, 63 Copps Hill Road, Ridgefield, CT USA 06877.

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08 August 2020


EXECUTIVE LETTER

THE RETURN

OF CINEMA

After a brief hiatus from publication,

we’re happy to return in time to

welcome cinemas back to business. As

movie theaters around the world first

began to close their doors in a global effort

to curb the spread of Covid-19, we made

the decision to suspend publication of

BOXOFFICE PRO until most screens in

the United States were back online. The

wait was longer than any of us wanted or

expected, but we kept busy throughout our

respective stay-at-home orders by working

on our digital platforms. From providing

breaking news on our website and social

media channels to launching new initiatives

like The Boxoffice Podcast and our

Boxoffice LIVE Sessions webinar series,

our team adapted to the circumstances

and has provided daily and up-to-the-minute

coverage of every development in this

crisis. Some of that work is highlighted in

the following pages, in particular with our

timeline of how cinemas have coped with

the impact of Covid-19 so far. Finally, after

months of stops and starts, we are happy

to make our way back to your homes and

offices with our magazine—just as cinemas

around the world get ready to host

new Hollywood releases on their screens.

If we’ve learned anything from the past

five months, it’s the value of expecting

the unexpected and the importance

of flexibility. This quality is especially

relevant when it comes to our upcoming

publication schedule: While we will

continue to work around the clock on our

digital platforms, we will not immediately

return to monthly issues of the magazine.

You can expect our next issue, for example,

in December, when we’ll celebrate the

100-year anniversary of this magazine.

We will continue adjusting our frequency

of publication according to the latest

developments in the industry and in

close collaboration with our advertising

partners. To our subscribers, rest assured

that we are working with our circulation

department to ensure that all remaining

issues in your subscription—including

those we skipped due to the pandemic—

are honored through the coming months.

As much as we hoped that this return

issue would mark the end of the Covid-19

crisis, it’s clear to us now that we’ll have to

learn how to deal with this situation—and

its ripple effects across our industry—for

the foreseeable future. It’s too early to

forecast a resolution, let alone a time

frame, but we are firmly committed to documenting

this historic period and helping

cinemas stay unified and informed. Like

everyone else in theatrical exhibition, we

are fully cognizant of the scope of this

crisis—but also of the power that we have

as an industry to work together toward a

recovery from the biggest threat cinemas

have faced in their existence. We’re all in

this together, and we thank you again for

your continued support and resilience.

Julien Marcel

Chief Executive Officer, The Boxoffice Company

Publisher, Boxoffice Pro

August 2020

09


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NATO 12 | Covid-19 16 | Charity Spotlight 30 | A Century In Exhibition 40

INDUSTRY

Vogue Theatre. Manistee, Michigan.

From closures in China in January to release date shifts

in June, a look back at the first six months of the crisis.

Covid-19 & Cinemas, p. 16

August 2020

11


Industry NATO

BRINGING

BACK THE

MOVIEGOING

EXPERIENCE

It is great to be back in the

pages of Boxoffice Pro after

a brief hiatus. We thought

it would be best to use this

space to summarize the work

we’ve been doing to help our

industry rebound from the

worst crisis it has ever faced.

BY NATO STAFF

Government Relations

Since the start of the global pandemic,

NATO has been working tirelessly to

assist theater owners in staying solvent.

As Congress began to contemplate relief

legislation in mid-March, we immediately

moved to retain robust representation

on Capitol Hill and worked assiduously

to ensure that theaters would be eligible

for assistance programs. Congress passed

the CARES Act at the end of March,

which included mandates for several

loan programs: the Paycheck Protection

Program (PPP) and Emergency Injury

Disaster Loans (EIDL) and grants through

the Small Business Administration

(SBA), and $454 billion for the Treasury

Department to set up loans and loan

guarantee programs. The legislation

also included a significant expansion

of unemployment insurance eligibility

criteria and a $600 weekly supplement for

individuals on unemployment.

The PPP loan program is a forgivable

loan that, as enacted, would allow

borrowers to borrow up to 2.5 months

of their average 2019 payroll amount

to spend on a number of eligible

expenses, with up to 100 percent

forgiveness depending on salary and

head-count maintenance requirements.

However, in subsequent regulation, the

SBA and Treasury made significant

modifications to the program, including

a requirement that 75 percent of any

forgivable amount be spent on payroll,

regardless of whether a borrower met

the “safe harbor” provisions of the PPP

as described in the CARES Act. NATO

worked to communicate these changes

to members, while also pushing Congress

to revise the terms to reflect the original

intent and flexibility. Due to aggressive

lobbying by NATO, the PPP was modified

by subsequent legislation to allow for

greater flexibility in spending the loan

(reducing the payroll spend to 60 percent);

allowing for a significant increase in the

forgiveness period (from 8 weeks to 24

weeks); and extending the maturity period

to five years for new loans, among other

fixes. NATO will continue to lobby for PPP

modifications including higher loan caps

and/or the ability for borrowers to take on

multiple loans.

The CARES Act also allocated

$454 billion for large and midsize

companies via loans and loan guarantees

administered by the Treasury Department

and the Federal Reserve. However,

currently the only program that has been

implemented is the Main Street Lending

Facility (MSLF), which uses a small

portion of the allocated funds toward

loans for small and midsize businesses.

As of early July, the MSLF was still not

fully operational, and many lenders have

expressed concerns about the program.

Exhibitors specifically have also shared

concerns about EBITDA caps that are

prohibitively low. We will continue to

share information as it becomes available

and to lobby for more flexible uses of the

Treasury funds, particularly for shuttered

industries such as movie theaters.

Given the duration of the pandemic,

Congress recognized that more assistance is

needed. In June, the House passed further

Covid relief legislation called the HEROES

Act, and the Senate is expected to respond

with a different bill at the end of July or

beginning of August. Potential proposals

in the forthcoming legislation include:

additional loan options for businesses

that have not received adequate relief; a

limited liability shield for businesses that

reopen; tax credits for personal protective

equipment; either an extension of the

pandemic unemployment assistance or

a rehiring bonus; and direct assistance

for families and individuals. NATO will

continue to lobby aggressively for the needs

of all exhibitors to help our members stay

solvent and survive this period.

12 August 2020


Cinema Reopening Operations

Earlier this year, even before movie

theaters were shut down by government

mandate, NATO members were taking

steps to mitigate the risk of exposure

to the coronavirus. As awareness of the

pandemic spread, theater owners were

making sure that recommended health

and hygiene practices (frequent hand

washing, staying home if ill, etc.) were

being followed by staff; that cleaning

and sanitization practices were stepped

up; that physical distancing was

implemented; and that showtimes were

adjusted to accommodate enhanced

cleaning between screenings.

When theater closures were mandated,

theater owners and their teams explored

additional health and safety measures

and made plans to reopen their cinemas

with robust precautions in place to protect

employees and guests from exposure

to Covid-19. To help members with this

effort, NATO invited operations leaders,

representing 11 NATO-member companies,

to come together as NATO’s Cinema

Reopening Operations Task Force.

Recognizing that health and safety

issues are always company-by-company,

location-by-location decisions, the

working group did not attempt to make

industry-wide recommendations or

suggest one specific model. Rather,

the group guided the development of

resources that identify issues for individual

companies to contemplate as they make

their reopening plans. With the input

and support of the working group, NATO

held two webinars that focused on the

operational considerations of reopening

cinemas and published a Covid-19 cinema

reopening considerations document and

an accompanying preopening planningstage

checklist, which were shared with

all NATO members. These resources

address cleaning and sanitizing, employee

health and personal hygiene, and physical

distancing, as well as food and beverage

operations, and were well received by

NATO members.

NATO members have used these

resources, in combination with guidance

from the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention, Johns Hopkins University,

and other sources, to develop operational

plans and protocols that have, in many

cases, helped local governments have

confidence to authorize reopenings in

their jurisdictions. Additionally, NATO

member companies have been nimble

and responsive to new information and

evolving guidance from federal, state,

and local authorities. Some plans have

been revised as more is learned about

the efficacy of specific protocols and as

moviegoers’ expectations and comfort

with various protocols evolve.

Communications and Marketing

NATO’s communications team began

preparing for the pandemic in January. As

reports of a growing coronavirus epidemic

in China began to circulate, we began

research into updating NATO’s “Preparing

for a Flu Pandemic,” first developed in

2009 in response to the N1H1 outbreak.

The document, along with NATO’s “Crisis

Management Handbook” was distributed

to members at the end of January. As the

pandemic intensified and spread, NATO

was heavily engaged with the press on

managing perceptions of the imminent

threat to the industry, particularly leading

up to CinemaCon.

With the WHO declaring a global

pandemic in mid-March, NATO canceled

CinemaCon, and most movie theater

companies began closing their doors.

NATO released a statement noting the

responsible actions of theater owners

and expressing optimism for the future

of the industry. NATO’s communication

strategy shifted to support of lobbying for

federal aid to movie theaters and other

industries and employees affected by the

nationwide shutdown. We commissioned

and placed a powerful opinion piece by

Christopher Nolan in The Washington Post

on the importance of movie theaters to our

economy and culture.

Throughout the shutdown, we have

continued to press the importance of aid

for the industry, its underlying strength

when things return to normal, and its

responsible and rational approach to

reopening safely in thousands of media

outlets around the world. To support

this messaging, we have encouraged and

facilitated the participation of theater

owners of all sizes to tell their stories

directly. These efforts are ongoing.

NATO has also established a Media

Relations/Research Task Force to

share and aid in communications by

members to their local press and patrons.

In coordination with the Reopening

Operations Task Force, it has encouraged

the development of direct and clear

communication of safety and sanitation

protocols that consumer research has

shown will be most effective in reassuring

the public that theaters are reopening

responsibly and safely.

NATO has also been engaged in a crossindustry

effort with the major studios

and other partners to create a reopening

marketing campaign that celebrates

the magic of moviegoing. That effort is

ongoing and contingent on the broad

opening of the industry nationwide—

indeed worldwide—and the return of

wide-release films.

Membership Services

Since the cancellation of CinemaCon 2020

and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic,

NATO’s membership services have

shifted toward several key topics. The first

NATO Membership

Companies Screens Sites

Domestic 735 35,189 3,656

U.S. Territories 3 43 42

Canadian 30 2,435 273

International 78 30,963 4,069

Total 846 68,930 8,040

NATO member

companies represent

almost 69,000 screens

in 100 countries on six

continents. The table

to the left indicates the

membership composition

as of July 1, 2020.

August 2020

13


Industry NATO

involved tracking studio activity and their

possible programming timetables. Another

important issue is U.S. legislation and

policy movement regarding how businesses

and their employees stay solvent until they

can open back up. This included funding

and advocating programs within the

industry to assist cinema employees. Next,

NATO observed support for moviegoing

and analyzed how to get people back into

cinemas when the time comes through a

strategic public relations campaign. Finally,

NATO needed to examine reopening

operation procedures, as cinemas would

prepare to welcome patrons again.

NATO’s weekly State of the Industry

webinar broadcasts every Thursday

afternoon (Washington, D.C. time)

to more than 400 member-company

personnel around the world. As

circumstances change rapidly in this

current environment, the need to relay

information on a timely basis remains

a high priority. In addition to the SOTI

webinars, NATO offers webinars on many

of the topics mentioned above, including

specific federal loan programs, P.R.

advice, and shared reopening experiences

from an operations standpoint. The

webinar and tele-video platform has

become a staple for businesses during the

pandemic, and NATO intends to continue

to provide much valuable information to

its members throughout this ordeal.

NATO staff have been working

diligently on behalf of all cinemas to

ensure that they have an industry to

return to once cinemas fully reopen. We

understand that cinema owners have

anxiety, frustration, and concern about

the future of the exhibition industry. The

past few months have been full of stressful

situations and difficult decisions. Our

members have found value in NATO’s

website posts, daily article updates,

weekly webinars, and regular reports on

developments within the industry. Thank

you for your constant support, and we look

forward to working with you this year.

Dues Hiatus

The month of July marks the beginning

of NATO’s fiscal year. For the 2020–21

fiscal year, the NATO Executive Board

authorized a one-time dues-free year

of membership through June 30, 2021.

Any cinema that has yet to join

NATO, please contact David Binet

(db@natodc.com) to take advantage of

the current offer. During this period of

uncertainty and great challenge, NATO

proudly represents our members and all

cinemas in the fight for the return of the

exhibition industry.

Employee Relief Programs

Several hundred thousand movie theater

employees all across the world were

furloughed when theaters were forced to

close. In the U.S., the Will Rogers Motion

Picture Pioneers Foundation (WRMPPF)

stepped up immediately to provide

financial aid to those most in need. With

$1.2 million in funding from Will Rogers’

reserves, and a $1 million contribution

from NATO, phase 1 of the Will Rogers

Covid-19 Emergency Grant Program

provided an immediate $300 grant to

7,300 furloughed employees in the U.S.

A comparable grant program was

launched by the Canadian Picture

Pioneers (CPP) to provide financial relief

to furloughed employees in Canada,

and NATO supported that effort with a

contribution of $100,000 CAD.

Our hats are off to our friends at

WRMPPF and CPP for undertaking and

managing these important programs

that gave a much-needed financial lift to

industry employees negatively affected by

the closures.

WRMPPF has now moved to phase 2 of

its Covid-19 relief program, which offers

assistance on a more individualized basis,

similar to its ongoing assistance program.

The fundraising for phase 2 was given a

nice boost by Lionsgate, as the company

donated the proceeds of its Lionsgate Live!

movie screenings to Will Rogers.

NATO Events

The cancellation of CinemaCon 2020 was

another disappointment earlier this year.

As we look ahead to better times, we are

looking forward to gathering, virtually

or in person, at the Beverly Hilton this

October, for NATO’s Fall Meetings. Stay

tuned for more details. At the same

time, we are already working hard on

new plans to celebrate to 10th edition of

CinemaCon, scheduled for April 26–29,

2021, at Caesars Palace.

Global Cinema Federation

In April, the Global Cinema Federation

released a statement on its commitment to

ensuring the survival of cinemas through

the Covid-19 crisis. Over these last few

months, the GCF executive committee

has held several virtual meetings to

continue to share updates on industry

developments, including reopenings and

back-to-the-cinema campaign ideas. The

GCF has communicated with studios

about the commitment to reopening safely

in time for wide releases of upcoming

films. The GCF has also worked on

collecting information from theater

owners operating in territories around

the world about the impact of Covid-19

on our industry. Chairman Alejandro

Ramírez Magaña addressed the virtual

CineEurope crowd on June 17 with an

industry message from the Global Cinema

Federation. In his address he said, “We

must demonstrate our resilience, which is

what has always made us a solid, united,

and successful industry. Our coordinated

efforts to get the public back into movie

theaters will make the difference in our

industry, which I am certain will return

stronger than ever.”

We must demonstrate our

resilience, which is what

has always made us a solid,

united, and successful

industry. Our coordinated

efforts to get the public

back into movie theaters

will make the difference

in our industry, which I am

certain will return stronger

than ever.

14 August 2020


August 2020

15


INDUSTRY COVID-19 & CINEMAS

COVID-19

& CINEMAS

BY DANIEL LORIA

JAN 23

Cinemas in China are

ordered to close on the eve

of the country’s Lunar New

Year holiday, one of the

busiest moviegoing periods

of the year.

THE FIRST

SIX MONTHS

OF THE CRISIS

FEB

16 August 2020


FEB 23

Cinemas in northern

Italy, which account for

approximately 48 percent of

the country’s screens, begin

to close as the region becomes

the first site outside Asia

to experience an outbreak

of Covid-19 cases. The

government orders the rest of

the country’s cinemas to cease

operations on March 8.

FEB 12

Mobile World Conference,

the world’s largest mobile

phone convention, cancels

its 2020 event, intended to be

held in Barcelona. It becomes

the first major convention

and trade show in 2020 to

abandon its plans.

MAR

MAR 04

No Time to Die, the latest entry in the James Bond

franchise, becomes the first major studio release to be

delayed due to Covid-19. The film, originally scheduled

to premiere in London on March 31 before opening

in the U.S. on April 10, is pushed back to November.

Every other studio title on the schedule will follow suit

in subsequent weeks, with some titles like Universal’s

F9 (the ninth entry in The Fast & The Furious

franchise) postponed by over a year to spring 2021.

Photo Credit: Nicola Dove. © 2020 DANJAQ LLC AND MGM

August 2020

17


INDUSTRY COVID-19 & CINEMAS

MAR 06

The city of Austin, Texas,

cancels South by Southwest,

making it the first major film

festival to be canceled due to

the escalating health crisis.

MAR 12

Cinemas in the Czech

Republic, Estonia, Greece,

Kosovo, Poland, and Romania

suspend operations under

government orders. Denmark’s

cinemas close by mutual

agreement on this date, ahead

of government orders.

“While local

outbreaks vary

widely in severity,

the global

circumstances

make it impossible

for us to mount

the show that our

attendees have

come to expect.”

—NATO

MAR 11

CinemaCon, the annual

convention of the National

Association of Theatre Owners,

cancels its 2020 edition.

Earlier that day, news broke

that Tom Hanks and his wife,

Rita Wilson, had contracted

Covid-19 in Australia during

the production of a film. Hours

before NATO’s announcement,

the NBA suspended the

basketball season after one of

its players tested positive.

MAR 13

AMC and Malco Theatres become the

first major circuits in North America to

announce restricted capacity measures,

limiting admissions in each auditorium

to 50 percent. By the end of the day,

similar capacity measures are instituted

in other circuits and independent cinemas

throughout the country. In New York City,

where a cluster of cases begins to spread,

art houses and repertory theaters like

Anthology Film Archives, Film at Lincoln

Center, and Nitehawk Cinema announce a

suspension of their programming.

Image courtesy Cinemark

18 August 2020


MAR 14

Cinemas in Belgium, France, Latvia, Norway, and

Spain suspend operations under government orders.

Cinemas in Germany begin closing by region, going

completely dark by March 18.

Alamo Drafthouse closes its New York City and Yonkers

locations following news of an uptick in cases in the

New York City region. Eighteen of the North American

market’s top 25 circuits are confirmed to be operating

under restricted capacity measures.

CMX Cinemas announces its intent to acquire dine-in

circuit Star Cinema Grill, which operates 10 locations

in Texas, with an additional site in development.

MAR 17

The top five circuits in North America

go dark as Cinemark and Marcus Theatres

announce the temporary closure of

their locations.

The top cinema circuits in Brazil begin to

suspend operations. Over 90 percent of

the country’s screens go dark by March 20.

Image courtesy Cinemark

Image courtesy Star Cinema Grill

MAR 15

Covid-19 hits the domestic box office.

Friday figures signal trouble as an initial

sample of 22 holdover titles report a sharp

65 percent Friday-to-Friday drop. The

weekend ends with a cumulative market

total of $53.6 million, the lowest tally since

September 2000.

MAR 16

The mayors of New York City and Los

Angeles, the highest-earning U.S. box

office markets, order cinemas in their

respective cities to close. By the end of the

day, top circuits in North America such as

AMC, Regal, Cineplex, Harkins, Showcase,

Landmark Cinemas of Canada, Alamo

Drafthouse, Bow Tie, and Caribbean

Cinemas announce they will begin closing

all their locations until further notice.

Cinemas in Argentina suspend operations

under government orders.

The Cannes Film Festival decides to

abandon its original festival dates for

2020 in mid-May, one of only a handful

of times the festival has been forced to

adjust its dates.

Image courtesy Disney/Pixar

August 2020

19


INDUSTRY COVID-19 & CINEMAS

“We tried to come up

with a solution that

could both rescue

our particular release

during this time and

also create a revenue

stream for the lost

income for our partner

theaters.”

—Richard Lorber,

CEO, Kino Lorber

MAR 19

Kino Lorber launches Kino Marquee, a

“Virtual Theatrical” streaming service with

a business model that shares revenue from

premium video on demand (PVOD) rentals

with participating exhibitors. Within a

week, more than 150 theaters across the

country embrace the concept as a means

to continue programming and establish a

new revenue stream during closures. The

first title to launch under Kino Marquee is

Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho’s

Bacurau, whose domestic theatrical run

was interrupted by Covid-19.

Photo Credit: Victor Jucá, courtesy Kino Lorber

MAR 25

Mexico’s two principal

cinema chains—Cinépolis

and Cinemex—suspend

operations at all their

locations in the country.

MAR 18

With movie theaters across the

country closed, NATO urges

Congress to move quickly on

aid to help the approximately

150,000 employees affected

by the crisis. The trade

association announces a

$1 million donation from its

reserve to aid cinema staff out

of work due to the closures.

MAR 23

CineEurope 2020, the

convention of UNIC, the trade

association for European

cinemas, reschedules its annual

convention in Barcelona from

June to August.

MAR 20

Cinemas in the United

Kingdom suspend operations

under government orders,

though most major circuits

began suspending operations

as early as March 17.

MAR 26

A bipartisan deal passes in

Congress to provide partial

economic relief for cinemas

affected by the crisis.

Cinemas in Russia

suspend operations under

government order.

20 August 2020


MAR 30

NATO and the Will Rogers Pioneers

Assistance Fund (PAF) partner to create

an emergency fund for cinema workers

affected by furloughs and layoffs during

the pandemic. An initial $2.4 million is

poured into the fund intended to provide

financial assistance to movie theater

employees facing economic hardship.

The Criterion Collection and Janus

Films launch the Art-House America

Campaign, a relief fund to help art house

and independent theaters affected by

the health crisis. When the campaign

ends several months later, it has raised a

total of $842,088.

APR 13

Lionsgate partners with

Fandango and NATO to launch

Lionsgate Live!, a weekly

series on YouTube that live

streams top titles from the

studio’s catalogue as part of a

fundraising effort benefiting

the Will Rogers Motion Picture

Pioneers Foundation. Held

on Friday evenings over four

weeks, the campaign raises

more than $200,000 during

its run.

MAR 31

Cinemas begin to offer takeout

concessions to help mitigate the

financial fallout from closures. From

popcorn curbside pickup orders to

dine-in theaters offering takeout and

delivery services, cinemas engage

patrons on social media channels to

promote concessions orders.

MAR 28

CJ CGV, the leading circuit in South

Korea, temporarily closes approximately

one-third of its locations in the country.

Toho, the largest exhibition circuit in

Japan, begins to close locations in Tokyo

and surrounding areas.

APR

August 2020

21


INDUSTRY COVID-19 & CINEMAS

APR 21

IFC Films announces the

creation of the Indie Theater

Revival Project, making 200

of its catalogue titles available

theatrically for participating

cinemas upon their return

to business.

APR 25

CMX Cinemas, the eighth-largest circuit in North

American, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and

abandons its planned acquisition of Texas-based

dine-in circuit Star Cinema Grill.

Image courtesy CMX Cinemas

APR 28

The governor of Texas allows

the state’s stay-at-home order

to expire, allowing cinemas to

reopen as early as May 1.

APR 20

CJ CGV, South Korea’s leading exhibition circuit,

launches a trial of “contact-free” locations designed

to minimize face-to-face interactions. The program

features ticketing kiosks, encourages mobile purchases,

and incorporates concessions pickup lockers.

Only a month after closure announcements, the state

of Georgia announces it will allow movie theaters to

reopen beginning on April 27.

APR 26

CJ CGV resumes operations in

the locations it had closed in

South Korea in late March.

Image courtesy CJ CGV

22 August 2020


APR 30

Alamo Drafthouse founder

Tim League steps down as the

CEO of the Texas-based dinein

circuit. He is succeeded by

Shelli Taylor, who becomes the

first woman to head a top-15

circuit in North America since

February 2018.

Image courtesy Alamo Drafthouse

MAY 02

Texas-based circuits EVO

Entertainment and Santikos

Entertainment become the

first cinemas in the United

States to lead the reopening

effort. The circuits open their

doors with revamped social

distancing and sanitation

guidelines, as well as a

restricted admissions capacity

per auditorium.

Image courtesy EVO Entertainment

APR 29

After abandoning plans for the theatrical release

of Trolls World Tour in favor of a PVOD rollout,

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell boasts to The Wall Street

Journal about the title’s success in home entertainment

platforms. In the interview, the executive suggests

future Universal titles will observe a similar

simultaneous release model, therefore abandoning a

theatrical exclusivity window. In a heated response,

AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron rebukes the studio’s

statements and vows to drop Universal titles from its

circuit—the largest in North America—once it reopens.

Photo Credit: DreamWorks Animation LLC

MAY

August 2020

23


INDUSTRY COVID-19 & CINEMAS

“Having guests in

our theaters also

allows our teams

to implement our

enhanced cleaning

and disinfecting

protocols. You may

even see our CEO

helping out if you

book an event!”

—Annelise Holyoak,

Cinépolis Luxury

Cinemas

MAY 08

Texas-based cinema

entertainment centers from

Cinergy and dine-in chain Star

Cinema Grill become the latest

circuits to resume operations

in the state.

Image courtesy Cinergy

MAY 05

With circuits in Texas

beginning to reopen, Cinépolis

Luxury Cinemas subsidiary

Moviehouse & Eatery adopts an

alternative strategy: opening

its doors by appointment only

through heavily discounted

private auditorium rentals.

Other circuits adopt a similar

practice, using private rentals

as a “soft reopen” strategy. The

concept finds success around

the world—from independents

like Atlanta’s Plaza Theater to

circuits like Utah’s Megaplex

Theatres, Sweden’s Svenska

Bio, and Novo Cinemas in the

United Arab Emirates.

MAY 07

Alamo Drafthouse launches

an in-house VOD platform,

becoming the second major

circuit in North America to

establish a streaming presence.

AMC Theatres had previously

launched its own VOD channel

in October 2019.

MAY 12

CineEurope 2020 is canceled

outright after originally being

rescheduled for August. UNIC’s

annual convention becomes

the first major exhibition

conference to go digital with a

live digital event celebrated on

June 17 and 18.

Cinemas in Norway are

permitted to reopen.

Image courtesy Alamo Drafthouse

24 August 2020


MAY 15

Drive-in cinemas see a resurgence as a viable alternative

to closed cinemas throughout the country. Major circuits

such as Marcus Theatres, B&B Theatres, Malco Theatres,

and Showcase Cinemas begin reopening their first

locations in the United States by welcoming cars into the

lots of their outdoor screens.

Cinemas in Germany are permitted to reopen, depending

on regional statutes and restrictions, in a tiered

reopening effort expected to be completed by June 30.

MAY 25

Cinemas in Spain are allowed

to resume operations in a

tiered reopening effort by

region, with those located

inside shopping malls

scheduled to start on June 8.

Most cinemas in the country

will reopen by late June.

Toho, Japan’s largest exhibition circuit, resumes

operations at select locations throughout the country.

Image courtesy IFC Films

MAY 18

ShowBiz Cinemas begins its reopening

effort, with select locations in Texas and

Oklahoma resuming operations.

The National Association of

Concessionaires cancels the 2020

edition of its expo and trade show,

originally scheduled for July 28–31 in

Orlando, Florida.

MAY 21

Anticipation mounts upon news of

reopening dates for major circuits, fueled

by rampant speculation from the trade

press and Wall Street analysts. The industry

sets its sights on July 17 as the closest thing

to a national reopening date, pinning

its hopes on the Warner Bros. release of

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet as the first new

major studio release following the closures.

After weeks of doubts about its summer

release, a new trailer for Tenet premieres on

the online video game platform Fortnite.

A crucial detail doesn’t go unnoticed: the

new trailer doesn’t mention a release date.

Cinemas in Denmark are permitted

to reopen.

Image courtesy ShowBiz Cinemas

August 2020

25


INDUSTRY COVID-19 & CINEMAS

MAY 29

France sets June 22 as the

national reopening date for

the country’s cinemas.

Netflix partners with

American Cinematheque, a

nonprofit arts organization,

to acquire Los Angeles’s

iconic Egyptian Theatre, a

movie palace dating to 1922.

The remaining NATO regional

conventions on the schedule—

Rocky Mountain, ShowSouth,

CinéShow, and Geneva—

cancel their 2020 events.

JUN 01

Belgium-based multinational circuit

Kinepolis reopens all 18 of its cinemas

in the Netherlands under restricted

admissions capacity. Subsequent

territories are scheduled to return in

stages, beginning with Spain on June 5

and followed by Switzerland (June 6),

Luxembourg (June 17), France (June 22),

Spain (June 26), and Belgium (July 1).

Image courtesy Kinepolis

JUN 09

California lays out guidelines

for a return to cinemas as

early as June 12.

MAY 28

Reading International

begins its reopening effort

in New Zealand, fully

resuming operations in

the country by June 4. The

circuit sets reopening dates

for its Australian locations

beginning on June 11.

JUN 12

In a Friday evening news dump, Warner Bros. reveals

it will be moving Tenet from its original release date of

July 17 to July 31. The move ignites a wave of schedule

changes from major studios across the industry.

Disney’s live-action Mulan becomes the next major

studio release on the schedule, dated for July 24.

JUN

U.K.-based multinational circuit Cineworld abandons

its planned acquisition of Cineplex, the largest cinema

chain in Canada. The deal, originally announced

in December 2019, would have made Cineworld the

world’s largest cinema circuit with over 11,200 screens

in markets that include the United States, Canada,

the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Czech Republic,

Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Israel.

26 August 2020


“This announcement

prompted an intense and

immediate outcry from our

customers, and it is clear

from this response that we

did not go far enough on

the usage of masks.”

—Adam Aron,

CEO, AMC Theatres

JUN 15

Cinemas in Italy are permitted

to reopen.

Malco Theatres begins a tiered

reopening effort with plans to

have its full circuit operational

by mid-July.

JUN 18

AMC Theatres announces a phased reopening of its

U.S. cinemas, with most locations open by July 15.

The circuit encounters strong public backlash to its

decision to “strongly encourage” face masks in theaters

in areas that don’t require them. Though the same

policy is shared by most major circuits around the

world, AMC’s stance becomes a national talking point

for cinema reopening policies. The circuit revises the

controversial policy a day later, requiring face masks

for all patrons in the United States.

Utah’s Megaplex Theatres begins to resume

operations with the first tier of openings in the state.

Image courtesy Megaplex Theatres

JUN 19

Cinemark, Marcus Theatres,

and Studio Movie Grill begin a

tiered reopening effort at their

respective locations. Original

plans have Cinemark entering

the final phase of reopenings

on the weekend of July 10.

JUN 16

Cineworld and its U.S. subsidiary, Regal

Cinemas, announce a phased reopening

effort scheduled to begin on July 10. Regal

plans to have its fleet of theaters in the

United States open by July 24.

Image courtesy Cineworld

August 2020

27


INDUSTRY COVID-19 & CINEMAS

JUN 25

The United States records the highest single-day

increase of new Covid-19 cases to date, pausing the

reopening efforts in several states. In response to the

uptick in cases, the governor of New York removes

cinemas from the list of approved businesses in the

state’s phase 4 reopening plans despite its progress in

overcoming its initial surge of cases.

JUN 22

Cinemas in France are permitted

to reopen.

Showcase Cinemas, a subsidiary

of National Amusements and

part of the Viacom media

empire, becomes the third major

circuit to launch a VOD platform,

ShowcaseNOW.

Another late-evening press release from Warner Bros.

signals further delays for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.

Originally intended as the title to begin welcoming

audiences back to cinemas on July 17, the film is

pushed back to an August 12 release.

Omniplex Cinemas, the largest theater chain in

Ireland, announces it will begin to resume operations

on July 3 under a phased reopening effort.

JUN 23

Fandango, the leading digital ticketing

aggregator in the United States, launches

a comprehensive theater reopening

program on its platform. Its initial

offerings include the detailed health and

cleaning policies of more than 100 movie

chains, seating maps broken down by

social distancing requirements, and filterbased

searches to help moviegoers locate

which theaters near them are currently

open, among other features. Digital

ticketing and mobile concessions ordering

are expected to become major features of

the global reopening effort.

Image courtesy Fandango

JUN 26

Following Warner Bros.’ lead,

Disney further delays the

theatrical release of Mulan

from July 24 to August 21.

Cinemas return in Canada

with leading circuits Cineplex

and Landmark opening

select locations in Alberta.

Both circuits plan to ramp up

reopenings across the country

through July 3.

Photo Credit: Film Frame. © 2019 Disney

Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved

28 August 2020


ART HOUSE MOVIE THEATERS

TACKLE COVID-19

JUN 29

AMC Theatres pushes back its reopening

in the United States. The circuit announces

revised plans to open approximately

450 domestic locations on July 30 and

approximately 150 remaining locations

the following week. The circuit plans a

full global reopening of its theaters in 14

countries by early August.

Cinemas in Greece are permitted to reopen.

Image courtesy AMC Theatres

With theatrical exhibition worldwide ground to a near

halt, independent and art house cinemas got creative,

coming up with innovative tactics for programming and

keeping in touch with their communities.

FilmScene

Iowa City, Iowa

FilmScene took to social media during the shutdown

to keep its relationship with homebound patrons going

strong. Online initiatives included craft how-tos, catchups

with staff, and a #FilmSceneStealer challenge—

inviting patrons to re-create their favorite film scenes from

the comfort of their homes.

Grand Avenue Theater

Belton, Texas

Connections with distributors let Texas’s Grand Avenue

Theater sell “Grocery Essentials” via its website for

curbside pickup. Products include staples like eggs, rice,

toilet paper … and, of course, popcorn.

Next Act Cinema

Pikesville, Maryland

Rain—or, for that matter, a closed theater—didn’t stop

Maryland’s Next Act Cinema from celebrating Juneteenth

with a virtual party, complete with comedians, music, and

activism. (And face masks.)

JUN 30

Cineworld and its U.S. subsidiary, Regal

Cinemas, along with Cinemark, delay their

respective reopening dates. Cineworld

and Regal, originally scheduled to open

in the U.K. and U.S. on July 10, now plan

to resume operations three weeks later,

on July 31. Cinemark, which began its

domestic reopening effort with select

locations around Dallas on June 19, had

planned to have all U.S. theaters open by

July 10. Under the new plan, additional

Cinemark locations will instead open on

July 24, with the remaining sites resuming

operations in subsequent weeks.

Row House Cinema

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s Row House Cinema took the virtual

theatrical model one step further by spearheading the

creation of its own film: the Quarantine Cat Film Festival.

Independent cinemas nationwide put out the call to

entry, inviting anyone sitting bored on their couch to get

up and take a cute video of their cat. Row House pored

(purred?) through all the entries, edited the chosen few

together, and released the finished film to virtual cinemas

across the U.S.

Roxie Theater

San Francisco

The Roxie in San Francisco hosted its very own Mixtapein-Place

film festival, inviting aspiring filmmakers from

the Bay Area and beyond to submit short (three minutes

or less) films made while sheltering in place. Genres: any.

Exterior shots: not allowed.

Spectacle Theater

Brooklyn, New York

When Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater closed, the volunteerrun

cinema swiftly pivoted to Twitch, streaming movies

(heavy emphasis on horror and obscure rarities) for free

to audiences via the popular live-streaming platform.

The programming was varied, and so was the audience:

“I’ve seen a lot of people tuning in from overseas who

absolutely could not have ever made it to a Spectacle

screening,” programmer Zachary Fleming told Boxoffice

Pro. “A few people from London and Hong Kong and

Australia tuning in for things [and] being like, ‘Oh, I’m

gonna head out to work now. Thanks for the movie.’”

August 2020

29


INDUSTRY CHARITY SPOTLIGHT

CHARITY SPOTLIGHT

Golden Link

In June, in-cinema merchandise manufacturer

Golden Link announced that it

would donate 10 percent of proceeds from

a new line of safety products designed

exclusively for cinemas—including the

children’s Justice League masks—to

Variety – the Children’s Charity. “At Golden

Link, we have been looking for an opportunity

to increase our participation with

charities through our work with cinemas,”

said Golden Link president Jeff Waaland

in a statement. “With the current situation,

this seemed like the perfect time to take

action. Not only are these masks providing

protection, but each one sold will help less

fortunate children.”

Showcase Cinemas Pay Tribute

As moviegoers across the United States

sheltered in place inside their homes,

millions of essential workers kept us going.

Showcase Cinemas paid tribute to those

everyday heroes with its “Superheroes

Photo courtesy Golden Link

Aren’t Just in Movies” social media campaign,

launched in April.

The campaign invited customers to

share a photo or video of themselves

dressed as their favorite superhero. “In

these challenging times, we have seen that

superheroes aren’t just in movies. That’s

why we are asking our Showcase fans to

show their support for the everyday heroes

in their lives by sharing a pic dressed as

your favorite movie hero,” said Mark Malinowski,

vice president of global marketing

at Showcase Cinemas. “We‘ll be using the

submissions to create a special pre-show

trailer that will run in Showcase Cinemas

locations nationwide once we open.”

Santikos Entertainment

On March 25, Santikos Entertainment

launched an “employee food bank,” distributing

over 700 free meals to employees

and local first responders. They also

partnered with a local food distributor to

create a curbside “grocery store,” where

employees could purchase food at

cost. Both initiatives remained active

until Santikos theaters reopened. The

John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation

also donated $1 million to the Covid-19

Response Fund.

Paradise Theatre

When Toronto’s Paradise Theatre launched

its “virtual cinema,” they decided to pay

it forward. With every ticket bought for

one of its streaming releases, the Paradise

donated a pair of tickets to frontline workers,

good for when the theater reopens.

The Paradise was inspired by the Jam Jar

Cinema Local Heroes Campaign, which

raised money to distribute free tickets to

frontline workers in the U.K.

“When the necessity of social distancing

comes to a close, Paradise will have what

we’ve been missing: the opportunity to

enjoy the company of others, delighting in

a shared experience, outside of work. And

who deserves that more than the people

Photo Courtesy Paradise Theatre

30 August 2020


on the front lines of today’s crisis? We’re

excited to give back to those working so

hard to protect Torontonians by treating

them to a great night out,” said Sonya

William, Paradise Theatres’ director of

communications.

so hard on the front lines of this pandemic,”

said Luis Olloqui, CEO, Cinépolis

Luxury Cinemas. “At the same time, this

program will help support our employees

while we eagerly await the reopening of

our theaters.”

Cinépolis

Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas, the U.S. arm

of Mexico’s multinational exhibition giant

Cinépolis, launched a campaign in April to

donate tickets to nurses and help its employees

affected by the Covid-19 shutdown.

In honor of Nurses Week, the circuit

donated two tickets to nurses at hospitals

near its locations (like the happy recipient

above) with the purchase of every $50

e-gift card sold through its website. The

campaign ran from April 20 to May 5;

funds raised went to support furloughed

Cinépolis staff.

“We’re extremely grateful for our health

care workers, and we’d like to give back to

the nurses at our local hospitals working

Photo Courtesy Cinépolis

Megaplex Theatres

This past spring, Megaplex Theatres took

part in a week-long food drive organized

by its parent company, the Larry H. Miller

Group of Companies (LHM Group). The

campaign, called “Driven to Assist,”

offered a free large tub of fresh popcorn in

exchange for a donation of nonperishable

food at any Megaplex location.

“One of our guiding principles at the

Larry H. Miller Group of Companies is

to ‘go about doing good until there is too

much good in the world,’” said Gail Miller,

owner and chair of LHM Group. “I am

impressed with Utahns’ willingness to

collaborate and to serve others. Together,

we can help fulfill a critical need for the

Utah Food Bank and its partners.”

Studio Movie Grill

As they approached reopening, Texasbased

drive-in chain Studio Movie

Grill launched its One Story Fund,

directing 10 percent of ticket, food,

and beverage proceeds from opening

weekend (June 19–21) to team members

in need. Under its Food to Go program,

10 percent of proceeds from curbside

concessions pickup were similarly

donated to furloughed SMG employees.

In late summer/early autumn, SMG

will be supporting local library reading

programs as well as offering free tickets

to participants in an American Red Cross

blood drive.

Atlas Atlantic Cinema

Atlas Atlantic Cinema in Atlantic, Iowa,

raised $2,000 in April for its local food

bank with a “popcorn pop-up” sale. The

sale, which was promoted with a single

Facebook post, ended up drawing so many

people that some waited for over an hour

to receive their bucket. But according to

co-owners Jacob and Rylea Anderson,

no one raised a fuss. Instead, the spirit

of generosity was in full flower. “There

[were] a lot of people that were paying it

forward,” said Jacob Anderson. “That was

really fun to see. You know, they’d buy

a bucket for the next car, and [that car

would] do it in return.”

Photo Courtesy Atlas Atlantic Cinema

August 2020

31


INDUSTRY CHARITY SPOTLIGHT

CHARITY SPOTLIGHT

VARIETY

A shutdown of theaters didn’t mean a

shutdown of good works for Variety – the

Children’s Charity and its various chapters.

Below are just some of Variety’s efforts to

help at-need children and their families

over the past four months.

1. Detroit and Southern California

With schools closed, Variety of Detroit

donated food to children and families

in need through its Variety Feeds Kids

program. The Variety Boys & Girls Club of

Boyle Heights, a beneficiary of Variety of

Southern California, also distributed daily

meals to 300 local club members.

2. St. Louis

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Variety

of St. Louis changed its annual summer

camp format to a free Virtual Adventure

Camp. St. Louis–area kids and teens with

disabilities (ages 4–20) created crafts,

played games, took virtual field trips,

made friends, and much more, all from

the safety of their homes.

3. Wisconsin

Variety of Wisconsin shipped free art

supplies to local families and took to

YouTube to share a for-all-abilities painting

tutorial led by world-renowned artist

Walfrido Garcia.

4. Variety of the Desert

Variety of the Desert partnered with FIND

Food Bank to distribute 5,000 meals at a

mobile distribution site serving children

and families in the Coachella Valley of

California. In addition to meals, children

could pick up a literacy bag filled with

books, bookmarks, pencils, and other

reading incentives, courtesy of Young

Variety of the Desert.

5. Illinois

Variety of Illinois brought its Variety

Sunshine Coach van to help safely

celebrate local children on their birthdays.

The outside of the van is decorated

specifically for each child, and the

birthday boy/girl receives a little surprise.

Variety of Illinois gives a big thank you to

their friends at Kernel Season’s for helping

celebrate their Variety kids!

6. Manitoba

Since closures began due to Covid-19,

Variety of Manitoba has funded more than

417 hours of virtual therapy sessions for 51

children living with special needs. Services

include speech therapy, occupational

therapy, ABA therapy, and music therapy.

7. Iowa

Variety of Iowa and the Principal Charity

Classic have proudly come together to

provide a $35,000 grant to the Food Bank of

Iowa. Support for Iowa’s children is more important

now than ever before, and this grant

will provide approximately 140,000 meals

to hungry children and families. The Young

Variety of Iowa board also volunteered at the

Food Bank of Iowa to help pack and organize

food. In total, they packed 288 boxes of

product equaling 5,285 pounds of food. If

you are a young professional between the

ages of 21 and 35 who would like to help

children in need in your local community,

please find your local Young Variety chapter

at usvariety.org/young-variety.

Greater Kansas City

Each year, Variety of Greater Kansas City

pays tribute to Variety’s entertainment

industry heritage with The Variety Show.

This year, Variety KC held the Virtual

Variety Show hosted by KCTV 5. Watch

the show and enjoy some inspiration at

https://varietykc.org/show/.

Founded in 1927 by a group of

theater owners and showmen

in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,

for nearly 100 years Variety

– the Children’s Charity has

provided invaluable assistance

to children who are sick,

disadvantaged, or live with

disabilities and other special

needs.

Variety – the Children’s Charity

currently has a network of 42

offices in 13 countries.

To submit events for future coverage,

email numbers@boxoffice.com

32 August 2020


1. Detroit and Southern California

2. St. Louis

3. Wisconsin 4. Variety of the Desert

5. Illinois

Images courtesy Variety – the Children’s Charity

6. Manitoba

7. Iowa

August 2020

33


INDUSTRY CHARITY SPOTLIGHT

Though the amount of

each individual donation

has gone down during the

Covid-19 crisis, the number

of donations has gone up—

indicating people’s desire to

contribute to a cause even as

their means to do so becomes

more precarious.

STEPPING

UP

Will Rogers Motion Picture

Pioneers Foundation helps the

exhibition community make it

through Covid-19

BY REBECCA PAHLE

For more than 80 years, the Will

Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation—founded

in 1939 in memory of its

movie star namesake, who died in a plane

crash four years earlier—has been providing

assistance to those in need within the

film exhibition community through their

Pioneers Assistance Fund. With Covid-19

putting that community more in need than

ever before, Will Rogers stepped up.

On March 30 Will Rogers announced

the creation of a Covid-19 Emergency

Grant, designed to provide financial

assistance to theater workers laid off or

furloughed as a result of the pandemic.

“When the theater closures took place,

it was instinct for us to jump in and

help,” explains executive director Todd

Vradenburg. NATO kicked in a cool

million, matched by $1.4 million from Will

Rogers’s reserves—“and just like that, we

had $2.4 million available to create our

Phase 1 Emergency Fund to help theater

employees who were furloughed without

pay.” By late June, Will Rogers had sent

a combined $2.4 million to 7,728 people,

with applications still being accepted and

grants still being sent out as of press time.

The mission of Will Rogers’s Covid-19

Emergency Grant is simple, says Vradenburg:

“It was important to us to show

theater workers we care about them.”

Roughly 75 percent of those applications

came in within the first week of the

grant going live—leading to a busy spring

and summer (putting it mildly) for Will

Rogers’s six-person “small and mighty”

staff, says director of development Christina

Blumer. Will Rogers’s mission, and

the sheer scope of the need that sprang up

in the weeks after the shutdown, required

collaboration and communication across

various facets of the entertainment industry.

To do its work, Will Rogers drew upon

the assistance of NATO, which in addition

to its initial donation helped get the word

out among its members, as well as theater

HR departments that verified employment

so grants could be sent out.

Vradenburg is quick to note that Will

Rogers is far from the only group that

stepped up to help the exhibition community.

Other initiatives include Art-House

America and fundraisers specific to theater

34 August 2020


workers in New York and Chicago; NATO

of California/Nevada set up its own $1.25

million relief fund; and individual exhibitors

contributed via “their own assistance

programs. AMC has AMC Cares, Regal

has the Regal Foundation, Cinemark has

Cinemark Cares, Marcus has an assistance

program for their employees. That’s been

a big help. We’re not doing this all alone.

We may have a big chunk of it, but many

exhibitors are also kicking in [and] helping

their employees.”

Among the most visible supporters of

Will Rogers is Lionsgate, which hosted a

four-week streaming series launched by

Jamie Lee Curtis. Called Lionsgate Live!,

the series paired films (The Hunger Games,

Dirty Dancing, La La Land, and John Wick)

with special guest stars as well as a call to

action to donate to Will Rogers. “We think

it’s a brilliant promotion,” says Vradenburg.

“From the first phone call we received

describing it to what actually ended up

being put together—how they packaged

it and got celebrities to do on-camera

messages—it’s really, really smart.”

Lionsgate Live!’s first screening, of The

Hunger Games, netted over 10,000 viewers

and donations from over 350 people.

Most of those were “donors we never had

before,” says Vradenburg. “They now know

about this charity, and they support it. So

hopefully we bring them into the family a

little bit.” By the end of week four, Lionsgate

Live! had netted a grand total of over

$200,000 for the Will Rogers coffers. Other

companies in the film industry rallied to

support Will Rogers as well. Popcornopolis

donated a portion of proceeds tied to

Lionsgate Live! screenings, and Kernel

Season’s, Influx Worldwide, Malco Theatres,

and Film Row hosted third-party

fundraisers. Sony Corporation and Sony

Pictures Entertainment dipped into their

Sony Global Relief Fund for Covid-19 and

donated $1 million.

“As a national charity goes, we’re a

smaller organization,” says Blumer—so

something like Lionsgate Live!, which

gets the word out about Will Rogers to

thousands of people, is a huge benefit to

the organization in both the short and

long terms. “To see the type of traffic that

we received on social media—and the

comments and the interactions and the

tags—it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen

even during a large event, like [Will Rogers’s

annual] Pioneer Dinner or something

that would generally have a lot of media

around it. The social media interaction

that we had was unprecedented, I would

say. As well as the number of donors.” In

general, explains Vradenburg, though the

amount of each individual donation has

gone down during the Covid-19 crisis, the

number of donations has gone up—indicating

people’s desire to contribute

to a cause even as their means to do so

becomes more precarious.

Weeks into the crisis, as applications

began to die down, Will Rogers shifted to

Phase 2 of the Pioneers Assistance Fund’s

Covid-19 Emergency Grant. Due to the

sheer number of people in need, Vradenburg

explains, it was all but impossible for

Phase 1 to take any specific circumstances

into account when issuing grants. Phase

2, however, is based on factors like health

care expenses or unemployment status. As

of press time, Will Rogers was still in Phase

2 of its Covid-19 Emergency Grant. That

phase “will continue until circumstances

change,” says Blumer. “There are no plans

to end the Emergency Grant program.

Helping people pay for COBRA and health

care continues to be the top need.”

Phase 2 of Will Rogers’s Covid-19 response,

Vradenburg notes, looks an awful

lot like their regular assistance program.

Will Rogers’s normal operations—both

the Pioneers Assistance Fund and Brave

Beginnings, which sends money to hospitals

so they can buy equipment to help

premature babies—are still going strong,

since “that money was raised in 2019 and

was already in the budget,” Vradenburg

says. “We will likely see a decrease in our

activity/spending in 2021,” since reserves

will be depleted and many of the fundraising

efforts they normally rely on—like golf

tournaments and the Pioneer of the Year

dinner—are currently impossible, with

exhibitors not in a position to donate. All

the same, assures Vradenburg, “we’ll do

something to keep those programs going

in 2021, because we’re not ready to let

them go dormant.”

The Will Rogers Motion Picture

Pioneers Foundation, like the exhibition

industry itself, will continue moving

on—and continue being absolutely

essential—even after the current crisis

calms down. Therein lies the silver lining,

say Vradenburg and Blumer. Many people

knew the work of the Will Rogers Foundation

but few had a direct, immediate

need for assistance. Blumer likens it to

the unemployment system: “So many

more people now are fully aware of what

they do and how it works and what the

application process looks like, because

they need it.” The same is true with Will

Rogers. As Phase 2 applications come in,

social workers have flagged those from

people dealing with “accident, illness, or

injury—in addition to Covid-19 employment

issues,” explains Blumer. As a result,

several dozen people who are eligible for

assistance from the Pioneers Assistance

Fund but only applied because of the

Covid-19 Emergency Grant have begun to

receive help.

“The bottom line is, they get it now,”

says Vradenburg. Awareness of Will

Rogers and its mission has increased, and

they plan to keep that momentum going.

“Once the dust settles on this Covid-19

crisis, we’ll come out with [additional]

messages about who we are and how you

can support us and why it’s important

that the Pioneers Assistance Fund is

always here for people”—ready to tackle

the unprecedented financial challenges

the industry will still be recovering from.

“A good number of people found us who

probably needed us before this pandemic

hit. And thank goodness that they found

us, because we should be able to give them

some help and get them through a rough

patch. That’s what we’re all about.”

August 2020

35


INDUSTRY CHARITY SPOTLIGHT

LOLLIPOP THEATER

NETWORK WON’T LET

COVID-19 SLOW IT DOWN

BY REBECCA PAHLE

Photo courtesy Lollipop Theater Network

Since 2002, it’s been the mission

of the Lollipop Theater Network to

brighten the lives of hospitalized children.

Aided by a board of directors packed

with film industry executives—including

Carolyn Blackwood, COO at Warner Bros.;

Chris Aronson, president of theatrical

distribution at Paramount; and Jack

Kline, former president and CEO of Christie—for

nearly two decades Lollipop has

brought film screenings and film stars to

L.A.-area hospitals, enabling children with

life-threatening illnesses to experience the

magic of the movies.

In March, everything changed.

Hospitals closed to outside visitors.

Lollipop closed its offices and postponed

its annual Superhero Walk, the keystone

event among Lollipop’s yearly fundraising

activities. And Lollipop—with its three

full-time staff members—looked at the

typical number of events it hosts—and

tripled it.

The ramping-up wasn’t planned, says

co-founder and executive director Evelyn

Iocolano. Rather, it was a natural response

to an increased need paired with a shift

in how Lollipop operates—away from

in-person events toward digital ones,

where actors, artists, and other industry

professionals interact with hospitalized or

outpatient children via Zoom.

When coronavirus hit the country in

March, recalls Iocolano, social media

was filled with frantic requests for things

to do. Movies to watch, bread to bake,

hobbies to learn—anything to cope with

the quarantine—not just to fill time but

also to help stave off anxieties about

the future. “In a really scary time, they

were looking for things to distract them.

… It made me think: This is what we’ve

been doing for 20 years. These kids that

are in hospitals, [even] when there’s

no pandemic, they’re fighting for their

lives because of cancer, leukemia, heart

disease, kidney transplants. They are

dealing with that fear, that confinement

and isolation and uncertainty.”

All this was made worse by the coronavirus,

which cut off much of the kids’

connection with the outside world and

cut down on opportunities to keep them

engaged. And so, days before Los Angeles

issued its stay-at-home order, Lollipop

put together its first digital one-on-one

session, connecting a patient at USC

Medical Center with an animation artist

from DreamWorks. “When we finished

36 August 2020


The internet is filled with

video content for children,

but it’s knowing the person

at the other end of the Zoom

call “actually sees you” ...

that is at the heart of what

Lollipop provides.

Photo courtesy Lollipop Theater Network

that call, we were like, ‘there’s something

there,” recalls Iocolano. “I always thought

in-person was the only way to do it, because

it was real. It was more effective. But

these [digital] visits are just as effective, if

not more so.”

Logistically, digital visits are less

challenging: Celebrity visitors don’t need

to find time in their schedules for the long

drive to the hospital, and if they’re not up

on their immunizations it doesn’t much

matter. Lollipop’s geographical reach

has been widened; since the pandemic

hit, Lollipop has expanded its visits to

28 hospitals. (Screenings, notes Iocolano,

have been provided nationwide since

Lollipop’s inception.)

Between March 20 and June 22, Lollipop

hosted over 50 Zoom sessions—typically

between four and seven a week—ranging

from one-on-one chats to story times to

drawing lessons with professional illustrators.

(Emmy-winner Debbie Allen even

helped Lollipop launch a weekly dance

session for health care workers.) In the first

weeks of the pandemic, most of Lollipop’s

sessions were one-on-one; by late June

they had shifted to mostly group sessions,

which can reach over 200 children apiece.

One of those group sessions was a mid-May

screening of Scoob!, followed by a virtual

visit with cast members and complete

with swag provided by Warner Bros. Since

that event, says Iocolano, multiple cast

members have reached out to ask how they

can do more visits.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” she says.

“I think the guests really feel that they’re

able to give back in a time where they’re

confined to their houses, and they’re

trying to figure out, ‘How can I help this

situation?’ This is a way for them to do it

from home. They can really see the impact,

and the kids are really enjoying meeting

these people that they never would meet

and being able to actually talk to them,

engage with them.” It’s that interactive

part that’s “magic” for the kids. The

internet is filled with video content for

children, but it’s knowing the person at

the other end of the Zoom call “actually

sees you,” she says, that is at the heart of

what Lollipop provides.

“These kids are stuck in hospitals. They

don’t have that daily interaction. They just

have their family—who loves them, but it’s

nice to see other people, and it’s nice to be

acknowledged. That’s what these sessions

have been enabling us to do around the

country.” Important, too, is that the

children attending these group events

can see “other kids in their same situation.

That’s another part of it: that they’re not

alone. There are other people struggling.

But when we do these sessions, all of that

disappears, and they just become kids.

They giggle and they laugh and they say

silly things.” (“What’s your favorite food?”

and “What’s your favorite animal?” are

probably not common interview questions

for the actors Lollipop works with.)

“The ramping-up process was not an

intention,” says Iocolano. “You focus, you

move forward, and it happens. It’s hard to

say no when you see the effect it has.” And

the effect that it will continue to have—

even as theaters come back, children’s

wards at hospitals won’t be open to outside

visitors due to the immunocompromised

status of their patients. Thus, Lollipop’s

virtual efforts will move on, even once

their in-person events come back. Lollipop

also plans to expand its fundraising

efforts, looking outside the film industry

for donors. “This community will always

support us however they can, but there

are a lot of people who want to be involved

with this industry [and] who want to help.”

Over the next few years, as companies

and industries attempt to bounce back

from the economic impact of Covid-19,

Lollipop will rely on individual donors—“whether

it’s the smaller amounts

that add up, or the higher net worth

individuals who want to give back and see

a difference”—to keep it going strong. “I’m

really hopeful that it’s going to be OK. I

believe in what we do so much, and I think

what’s happened over the past few months

has made me believe in it even stronger. I

can’t imagine other people wouldn’t want

to support it.”

August 2020

37


Industry GUEST COLUMN

CAN CINEMAS

WIN BACK

AUDIENCES

AFTER COVID-19

SHUTDOWNS?

Homebound moviegoers flock

to streaming solutions—but

don't count movie theaters out

BY DEBBIE STANFORD-KRISTIANSEN,

CEO, NOVO CINEMAS

The worldwide closure of cinemas

in the wake of the global battle

against the spread of coronavirus and

the confinement of millions around

the world to their homes has led to

an unprecedented increase in the use

of streaming services. The enormous

appetite for streaming content among

homebound audiences has led some

to question whether cinemagoing will

be a thing of the past once Covid-19

is consigned to history. At Elan

Entertainment, owner of Novo Cinemas,

we believe the answer to that question

is an empathetic no, and we point to

lessons from the past, when the survival of

moviegoing was also subject to debate.

The fact is that cinemas and

moviegoing have proven over the years to

be nothing short of super-resilient. When

TV first arrived in peoples’ homes, many

predicted that the days of the big screen

were over. They were proved wrong. Later

came videos and DVDs—and again the

doom-mongers were at work, predicting

the demise of the movie theater. Yet again,

however, news of cinema’s supposed

death proved greatly exaggerated.

Not that the cinema industry ignored

these threats! The industry was aware,

and concerned, about them. What did

change was that the cinema sector upped

its game, luring audiences out of their

homes with vastly improved services

and investments in delivering a more

compelling experience. In came bigger

and more luxurious seating; foyers, which

turned into social meeting points for

friends to share a drink or meal selected

from wider and more exciting menus; the

immersive Imax experience and a much

faster supply chain bringing blockbusters

to market worldwide immediately upon a

film’s release.

Now comes the supposed threat of

streaming services. Again, we are not

ignoring the impact of streaming—

figures show that, worldwide, over just

one weekend of the Covid-19 shutdown,

streaming-service subscriptions jumped

13 percent. Streaming is popular, and the

cinema industry must continue to invest

and innovate to maintain and build on its

own popularity.

Streaming popularity, however, doesn’t

mean people will be less inclined to go

to cinema once the crisis is over. In fact,

a recent study from EY’s Quantitative

Economics and Statistics Group (QUEST)

found that people who go to movies also

more frequently watch streaming content

than those who go to cinemas less often.

The study found, for instance, that

those who visited a cinema nine times or

more over the past year consumed more

streaming content than those who visited

only once or twice over the same period.

Those who saw nine or more movies at

the cinema averaged 11 hours of weekly

streaming compared to the seven hours

of streaming reported on average by

those who went to the movies just once or

twice. This leads us to think that the two

entertainment forms are complementary,

rather than competitive.

Cinema will survive, indeed thrive,

in the post Covid-19 era as people look

to make the most of the freedom and

opportunity to get out and socialize.

Cinemas are great places for families

and groups of friends to enjoy immersive

big-screen experiences together. The EY

Quest survey confirmed cinemagoing as

a favorite among teenagers. Those who

responded to the survey and were between

the ages of 13 and 17 reported going to

an average of 7.3 movies a year while

consuming 9.2 hours of streaming content

each week—the highest of any age group.

Post-crisis, those much-anticipated

movie releases that were put on hold will

flood into cinemas, creating a worldwide

rebound film fest. Crowd pullers that

had their release dates postponed will

be back. These include the latest Bond

movie, No Time to Die, which has had its

release pushed back to November; the

animated comedy Peter Rabbit 2: The

Runaway, initially planned for a spring

release and will now hit our screens at the

end of August; and the ninth installment

of the The Fast & the Furious franchise,

which will now be released in April 2021.

But it’s not just superb movies that

audiences can look forward to and that

will keep bookings buoyant—it’s the

continuously evolving cinemagoing

experience that will soon take another

leap forward, leveraging the latest

technological developments such as

artificial intelligence, virtual reality,

and the arrival of 4-D theaters. Ultracomfortable

bespoke cinema experiences

will be the norm, making a visit to the

movies an even greater time out and an

engaging social experience that streaming

just can’t replicate. The experience will

also likely benefit from the introduction of

38 August 2020


Photos courtesy Novo Cinemas

complementary attractions like e-sports

and gaming, with their appeal to younger

audiences.

At Elan Entertainment, we are

confident of a post-Covid-19 cinema

resurgence. Novo Cinemas has been

delivering a great time out to Persian

Gulf audiences since 2014, and we have

experience to call on. We have pushed

boundaries, pioneered change, and

consistently striven for the new and next

big thing—and this modus operandi

will continue. We have introduced

evolutionary technologies throughout

the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

region. Our guests choose from 2-D, 3-D,

4-D, and Imax with laser; benefit from

online booking, e-kiosks, and the first

cinema-dedicated mobile app; and enjoy

luxury seating and the latest food and

beverage trends.

After Covid-19, theaters will be

destinations not just for the latest

international blockbusters but also

“Streaming is popular, and

the cinema industry must

continue to invest and

innovate to maintain and

build on its own popularity.”

for regional premieres and preview

screenings, as well as alternative content

such as live boxing, cricket and football

matches, performing arts masterpieces,

and a wide range of stunning Imax

documentary films. Evolution and

innovation were hallmarks of the

cinemagoing experience before we had

ever heard of the coronavirus. They are

values that will characterize the post-

Covid era as well. Streaming is here to

stay—but the credits are far from rolling

on the cinema experience.

August 2020

39


INDUSTRY A CENTURY IN EXHIBITION


60

s

A CENTURY

IN EXHIBITION

1960s: The collapse of the

studio system

BY VASSILIKI MALOUCHOU

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of

the founding of Boxoffice Pro. Though

the publication you hold in your hands

has had different owners, headquarters,

and even names—it was founded in

Kansas City by 18-year-old Ben Shlyen

as The Reel Journal, then called Boxoffice

in 1933, and more recently Boxoffice

Pro—it has always remained committed

to theatrical exhibition.

From the 1920s to the 2020s, Boxoffice

Pro has always had one goal: to provide

knowledge and insight to those who bring

movies to the public. Radio, TV, home

video, and streaming have all been perceived

as threats to the theatrical exhibition

industry over the years, but movie

theaters are still here—and so are we.

We at Boxoffice Pro are devotees

of the exhibition industry, so we couldn’t

resist the excuse of a centennial to

explore our archives. What we found was

not just the story of a magazine, but the

story of an industry—the debates, the

innovations, the concerns, and above

all the beloved movies. We’ll share

our findings in our year-long series,

A Century in Exhibition.

40 August 2020


The studio system that thrived

during Hollywood’s Golden Age died

in the 1960s. Challenges in the form of pay

TV, antitrust legislation, low admissions,

and censorship had worn down the studios

in the previous decade. But the 1960s

brought a new challenge that proved too

difficult to overcome: a society in turmoil.

Classic westerns, patriotic war movies,

family musicals, and biblical epics were

receiving an increasingly tepid reception

at the box office. Unable to comprehend

the tastes of their young audience

during the time of the Vietnam War, the

civil rights movement, and the growing

counterculture, studios were ever more

disconnected from their patrons. There

was one question that veteran studio

executives were no longer able to answer:

What was an American film supposed

to be? As studio films floundered and

aging studio executives lost control of

the industry, foreign and art house films

filled the gap, influencing a generation of

American filmmakers who ushered in the

era of New Hollywood.

Until the 1960s, the industry had

never truly confronted its own racism. In

Boxoffice Pro, so-called Negro theaters

were rarely mentioned. From the 1920s

to the 1950s, the magazine published just

one advertisement for a Black-led movie.

One of the ways in which the exhibition

community was forced to come to terms

with the question of race in the 1960s was

the desegregation of movie theaters.

Until the middle of the decade, most

Southern cities practiced segregation in

their movie theaters, either by segregating

individual cinemas—with designated

balconies for Black audiences—or by

having separate cinemas for Black and

white audiences. Black-only theaters,

which were run by African American

managers but often owned by whites,

were less numerous than their white-only

counterparts and mostly ran second- or

third-run films. Some cities, like Charlotte

and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, had no

theaters for Black audiences at all.

As the civil rights movement progressed,

picketing campaigns, mostly led

by students in urban areas of the South,

paved the way for the desegregation of

movie theaters. Major circuits operated by

Loew’s (later Loews), RKO, and Warner—

although desegregated in the North—were

targeted by protestors for policies in

their Southern locations. Boxoffice Pro

documented one of the largest student-led

desegregation campaigns, which saw

approximately 1,500 students march in

Atlanta in February 1961. According to the

magazine, most of Atlanta’s downtown

movie houses began desegregating in

May 1962 by permitting a small number of

African Americans to attend each showing

for a trial period of a handful of weeks, a

strategy used by many Southern theaters

before integrating completely.

In May 1963, Attorney General Robert

Kennedy praised exhibitors for moving

forward with voluntary integration when

he invited influential exhibitors to the

White House, seeking to persuade them to

support President Johnson’s civil rights

legislation. The idea was that voluntary

desegregation of movie theaters, highly

visible hubs in both Black and white

communities, could spill over to other

businesses. Boxoffice Pro founder and

editor Ben Shlyen commented on the

meeting: “From a humanistic, economic

and political viewpoint, it is seen that

the change called for must be made.” He

added, however, that it could not “be done

on a wholesale basis” due to the potential

for violent outbreaks. “The threat of

legislation to force integration is not the

way to bring about the change called for

by the times and conditions,” he argued.

Overall, the matter of desegregation was

not frequently discussed by the magazine’s

writers. But the publication chose

to publish a letter by a Southern movie

manager in 1963, who wrote: “[The manager]

hears it plenty when he might play a

movie appealing mainly to children, such

as a Walt Disney film. He gets calls from

mothers wanting to know if his theater is

integrated, and if it is, the mother will not

send her child.”

Contrary to what Shlyen thought,

legislation proved the only way to force

compliance. The end of legal segregation

came in July of 1964 with the Civil Rights

Act, and the Congress of Racial Equity

found that all theaters were abiding by the

law that same month.

The civil rights movement also

brought the (still ongoing) question of

minority representation to the attention

of Hollywood. The success of Sidney

Poitier personified the controversy over

the inclusion of African Americans both

on and behind the camera. In 1964, Poitier

became the first Black actor to win an

Academy Award for Best Actor for his role

August 2020

41


INDUSTRY A CENTURY IN EXHIBITION

in Lilies of the Field. Writes journalist and

author Mark Harris in his book Pictures at

a Revolution, Poitier was worried that his

win would only lead to complacency, as the

industry would busy itself with self-congratulation

instead of working toward

additional progress. Poitier’s fears proved

correct: he did not get another offer for a

year after winning the Academy Award.

But the actor was also internally

conflicted over the kind of parts he was

playing. Was portraying one-dimensional

Black characters a necessary sacrifice to

open the way for more actors of color in

Hollywood? Some civil rights activists

were indeed condemning the portrayal

of African Americans on the silver screen.

The NAACP led discussions with major

studios to ensure progress on the issues of

job access and on-screen representation.

Other groups, including women and

Latinx communities, began protesting as

well. A 1962 Boxoffice Pro article reported

that leaders of indigenous peoples

in New Mexico had been “long frustrated

over [their] treatment” in American film

and were planning to open their own

production companies. After the 1968

assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King

Jr., a coalition of industry stars including

Poitier, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, and

Candice Bergen created a nonprofit group

to produce films on racial and social issues.

The proceeds were to go to the Southern

Christian Leadership Conference.

Poitier became the top box office draw

of 1967 with the interracial romantic

comedy Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

(which became Columbia’s biggest success

to date), To Sir, With Love, and the Oscar-winning

In the Heat of the Night. The

success of these films proved two things:

Black moviegoers could be a lucrative audience,

and films about and starring Black

people could play in the South. Exhibitors

did not accept these truths without resistance.

Some theaters edited moments, like

Poitier and Katharine Houghton’s kiss in

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, out of their

prints. More alarmingly, the KKK picketed,

and even considered planning attacks on,

theaters that played these films.

The new social context created by the

civil rights movement and the counterculture

revolution produced an appetite

among younger audiences for films that

spoke to the reality of the decade. The

catastrophic flops of expensive films

like Cleopatra (1963) and Doctor Dolittle

(1967) proved the desire for something

new. In 1952, the Supreme Court had ruled

that Roberto Rossellini’s The Miracle, a

controversial film that drew criticism from

the Catholic Church, was an artistic work

protected under the First Amendment.

With that decision, the threat of government

censorship was eliminated, opening

the gates for a wave of foreign films that

Black-only theaters, which

were run by African American

managers but often owned

by whites, were less numerous

than their white-only

counterparts and mostly ran

second- or third-run films.

Some cities, like Charlotte and

Chapel Hill, North Carolina,

had no theaters for Black

audiences at all.

42 August 2020


gave young moviegoers what they were

looking for. These films defied taboos and

censorship and embraced an experimental

approach to filmmaking. Among them

were movies hailing from swinging London,

which exported the Bond franchise

and Beatles films—and stars like Sean

Connery, Michael Caine, and Vanessa

Redgrave—to North American audiences.

The French New Wave introduced young

urban intellectual audiences to Truffaut,

Godard, Brigitte Bardot, and Alain Delon.

Italian films propelled Antonioni, Fellini,

Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, and

Gina Lollobrigida to fame.

The foreign craze was evident in the

pages of Boxoffice Pro. Coverage of

foreign film festivals boomed, as did

editorial by foreign correspondents

and columns like “Tokyo Report” and

“London Report.” In fact, one anonymous

writer reported in 1961 that 70 out of 176

pictures released by 10 companies in the

U.S. between November 1960 and August

1961 were foreign. By February 1964,

Twentieth-Century-Fox, MGM, Columbia,

and United Artists were leading importers

of foreign films. Smaller players like

Embassy and Janus Films, which imported

the work of Ingmar Bergman, steadily

became more prominent.

It was the first time in Hollywood’s

history that stars and films competed with

their international counterparts. And

Hollywood was scared. A writer summed

up the situation in August 1961: “The

foreign invasion appears to be creeping

up on the American production industry

and, in time, may equal it or surpass it.

And from all indications, U.S. companies

will increase their imports in the coming

years. While the top pictures still come out

of Hollywood, the quantity is diminishing.”

The artistic merit of foreign films was often

recognized in the magazine with positive

reviews and the honor of Boxoffice Pro’s

Blue Ribbon Award, but Shlyen always

encouraged Hollywood to regain its

dominant position.

Art house and specialty theaters thrived

thanks to the influx of foreign films. Leonard

Lightstone, executive vice president at

Embassy, said in 1963 that specialty theaters

were “mushrooming” and becoming

more profitable as foreign films cut costs

and became more flexible in their release

strategies than first-run product. In 1960,

Irving M. Levin, divisional director at San

Francisco Theatres, attributed the proliferation

of foreign films to their universal

appeal and to “the inevitable maturing

of film audiences as the country’s level of

education and appreciation broadens.”

Independent cinemas, like the Bleecker

Street Cinema in Greenwich Village, began

showcasing international films. In April

1967, Shlyen urged exhibitors to “drop the

notion that they must have ‘big box office

The new social context

created by the civil

rights movement and the

counterculture revolution

produced an appetite

among younger audiences

for films that spoke to the

reality of the decade.

August 2020

43


INDUSTRY A CENTURY IN EXHIBITION

In 1960, New York became

the first state to establish the

classification “Adult Only”

for moviegoers above 18,

sparking similar bills in other

local legislatures.

product or nothing’” and give smaller

films a chance. Shlyen’s plea came at a

time of declining attendance and frequent

closures of downtown movie houses as

white audiences fled to the suburbs. Some

also found in foreign and art house films

the only way to fight TV. Independent

filmmaker Leonard Hirschfield was reported

saying in 1967, “Today the personal

films are ‘most important’ because people

can see the factory stuff on television.”

Foreign and art house films were

catalysts for the end of censorship and

the revision of the Production Code.

Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, which

featured full-frontal female nudity, did

not receive the Production Code seal and

was condemned by the National Legion

of Decency. MGM distributed Blow-Up

anyway through its shell company,

Premier Productions. Grossing about

$20 million, the film dealt a huge blow to

puritanical attitudes. Foreign films had

effectively created a double standard. As

more theaters showed films without the

Production Code seal, nudity became

even more prevalent on-screen, raising

questions about whether children and

families were being driven away. But as

the negative effects of censorship on

creativity—not to mention the box office—

became increasingly apparent, calls for

an age-based classification system, which

would give parents control over what their

children could see, started to gain traction.

In 1960, New York became the first state

to establish the classification “Adult Only”

for moviegoers above 18, sparking similar

bills in other local legislatures.

Six years later, Jack Valenti became

the third president of the MPAA. Valenti

was preoccupied with censorship and the

rising insurrection of Code-challenging

filmmakers from the beginning of his

tenure. In his first few weeks in office,

he revised the Code to include the label

“Suggested for Mature Audiences” on

advertising posters. Shlyen welcomed the

revision and praised Valenti’s “Herculean

feat” for “giving the industry and the

public a Code of Self-Regulation from

which any benefits can be derived, not the

least of which is the better image that so

much is spoken of and which can be the

means for increasing attendance as well

as to revive the custom of multitudes of

lost patrons.”

But foreign films were no longer the

only problem. A year before Valenti’s

hiring, Sidney Lumet’s The Pawnbroker

was approved by the Code despite its

nudity on the grounds of the “high

quality” of the film. The decision created

a loophole: Nudity was tolerable for “good”

films, but not for ordinary ones. Mike

Nichols’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,

which broke barriers with its strong language,

finished what The Pawnbroker had

44 August 2020


started. The National Legion of Decency,

supposedly influenced by Jacqueline

Kennedy, gave the film an endorsement of

“acceptable for adults with reservations.”

Jack Warner released it in 1966 with a

warning that the film was for adults only

and provided individual contracts for

theaters to sign, pledging that they would

not admit any minors. Valenti was forced

to approve the film with a “Suggested for

mature audiences” label.

This became the first step toward

the establishment of the new MPAA

voluntary classification system, enacted

in 1968. Movies were rated G (Suggested

for general audiences), M (Suggested for

mature audiences), R (Persons under 16

not admitted unless accompanied by an

adult), or X (Persons under 16 not admitted).

Valenti declared in Boxoffice Pro

that “the creative filmmaker ought to be

free to make movies for a variety of tastes

and audiences, with a sensitive concern

for children. That’s what this voluntary

film rating plan does—assures freedom of

the screen and at the same time gives full

information to parents so that children

are restricted from certain movies whose

theme, content and treatment might be

beyond their understanding.”

The MPAA and the International Film

Importers and Distributors of America

(IFIDA) were to monitor the ratings

system with the newly formed National

Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).

After calling for a united exhibitor front

for decades, Ben Shlyen’s wishes became

reality with the birth of NATO on January

1, 1966. Boxoffice Pro followed its inception

closely. In April 1964, the Allied States

Association of Motion Picture Exhibitors

and the Theatre Owners of America agreed

on a merger, talks for which had begun

over a decade before. The challenges

and changes of the 1960s brought an end

to the ideological differences that had

divided the two major exhibitor groups. In

addition to enforcing ratings, in its early

days NATO organized defenses against the

industry’s greatest threats. It campaigned

against the FCC for the regulation of

pay TV, instituted a “movie month” with

discounted prices, and pushed for more

research on patron behavior.

The final nail in the coffin of the studio

system came in 1967. That year, the

Academy Award nominees were four films

representing the new standard of antiestablishment,

more inclusive filmmaking—Bonnie

& Clyde, The Graduate, Guess

Who’s Coming to Dinner, and In the Heat

of the Night—as well as Fox flop Doctor

Dolittle, a film that epitomized the studios’

disconnect from the current culture. The

success of these new types of films was

indisputable. Influenced by European

New Wave cinema, young directors who

had trained in theater and TV like Sidney

Lumet, Arthur Penn, Mike Nichols, Sam

Peckinpah, and John Frankenheimer were

not afraid to take on taboo subjects and

resist the status quo.

While indies like Easy Rider and The

Wild Angels were thriving, the Big Five

were collapsing. Walt Disney had died

suddenly at 55 in 1965, Paramount was

sold to Gulf and Western Industries in

1966, and Warner Bros. sold a third of

its shares to Seven Arts in 1967. MGM

was sold to a Nevada casino millionaire,

Kirk Kerkorian, in 1969. Even United

Artists and Columbia, which had been

taking more risks with independent films,

were shaken. United Artists became a

subsidiary of an insurance company,

Transamerica Corporation, and there were

rumors about a French bank taking over

Columbia. The only Old Hollywood mogul

left was Darryl Zanuck, who remained at

the head of Twentieth-Century-Fox. By

the close of the decade, the golden age of

studios had ended and New Hollywood

was ascendant.

August 2020

45


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Trends 48 | Drive-In Summer 62 | Hometown Theaters 70

THEATER

“It is obvious that the high degree of pent-up demand for

the theatrical experience and need to get out of the house

has exploded, resulting in huge drive-in attendance.”

Drive-In Summer, p. 62

August 2020

47


THEATER TRENDS

THE NEXT

BIG

The reopening effort in the United States

started in Texas, as cinema entertainment

centers—known for having larger sites

that can more easily accommodate social

distancing measures—were among the first

circuits to resume operations. boxoffice

pro takes a look at the origins of the cinema

entertainment center (CEC) trend, one

of the hottest innovations in U.S. exhibition

before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.

BY DANIEL LORIA, KEVIN LALLY, AND

REBECCA PAHLE

48

August 2020


THING

August 2020 49


THEATER TRENDS

The late 1990s and early 2000s were

a formative time for the dine-in

theater concept in the United States.

Theaters that offered expanded

concessions, a full kitchen, and waiter

service existed—but not at the scale to

be considered a significant part of the

exhibition market. That started to change

at the turn of the 21st century; Alamo

Drafthouse was founded in 1997, and Studio

Movie Grill launched in 2000. It was around

that time that Jeff Benson, then an auditor

manager at Deloitte, decided to open his

first dine-in movie theater with his wife,

Jamie. Together, the couple developed the

concept that would become Movie Tavern,

launching the brand’s first location in Fort

Worth, Texas, in 2001.

The Bensons sold their interest in

Movie Tavern in 2008. By that time, Movie

Tavern had grown to nearly 100 screens in

five states. The couple was confident that

the dine-in space, by then well established

in Texas, would continue to proliferate

across the country, but they had their

sights trained on something else.

“It was right after we sold Movie Tavern

in 2008 that I started thinking there had

to be something else other than dine-in

theaters. Back then everybody was starting

to get into the dine-in trend. I wanted

to find a new niche,” says Jeff Benson.

Within a year of the Movie Tavern sale, the

Bensons launched Cinergy Entertainment

Group, pioneering their own approach

to what we know today as the cinema

entertainment center (CEC).

A cinema entertainment center is a

general classification that describes any

cinema that incorporates additional experiential

elements—arcades, bowling, laser

tag, virtual reality—into the same complex.

While many cinemas already incorporate

some of these elements, CECs stand out as

large-scale complexes designed to become

out-of-home entertainment hubs.

Cinergy’s first CEC opened in 2009 at a

preexisting building built on spec by the

city of Copperas Cove, in central Texas. “It

had never been occupied in six and a half

years. It was just sitting there, an empty

shell, bigger than what I wanted for my

first eight screens,” says Benson. “That

was really the impetus: I bought a building

that was too big and had to figure out

something to do with the space.”

That same year, Cineplex, Canada’s

leading exhibition circuit, opened its first

Xscape Entertainment Centre. The concept

enhances a cinema’s arcade area to

emphasize the latest video and interactive

games, an ideal attraction for groups and

private parties. Cineplex currently counts

38 Xscape locations in its circuit. These

early concepts from Cinergy and Cineplex

bring to mind family entertainment

centers, like the kid-focused Chuck

E. Cheese or the adult-skewing Dave

& Buster’s. Benson cites the latter as a

particular influence in launching Cinergy.

“We had hired several former Dave &

Buster’s executives at Movie Tavern, and I

would often ask them about that business,”

he says.

Benson also cites Neil Hupfauer,

founder of Main Event Entertainment,

another Dallas company, as an inspiration

in developing Cinergy’s first location.

“Before Main Event you had these cruddy

old arcades and smoky bowling alleys. Neil

was the first guy to revitalize that entire

concept. We started talking over lunch,

and that’s how we came to have our first

cinema entertainment center.” (Hupfauer

served as Cinergy’s interim president and

COO from 2015 to 2017.)

A similar movement was simultaneously

taking place at the other end of the

world. South Korea’s CJ CGV opened its

first multiplex in 1998, helping drive a new

era of moviegoing in its home market. By

2010, the emergence of new technologies

and increased prominence of home-entertainment

platforms pushed the circuit’s

executives to reconsider their growth

strategy for the future. They began to see

the strength of their circuit not in the films

it programmed but in the out-of-home

entertainment experience it offered.

In a keynote address delivered at

CinemaCon 2018, CJ CGV’s CEO, Jung Seo,

explained why the circuit started to shift

its focus away from principally marketing

studio titles and more into branding CJ CGV

as an entertainment venue. “If that’s how

we define ourselves,” as a place for people to

go watch a movie, “then we will constantly

be under the threat of being replaced by

other channels for watching movies or other

forms of entertainment,” he said. “Rather,

the value of CGV is to provide our customers

the most attractive place in which to have a

communal social experience.”

The result was the creation of a new

concept for its cinemas. “Several years ago

we decided to redefine ourselves from being

a multiplex to being a ‘cultureplex,’” said

Previous spread:

Guests at Cinergy

Entertainment Group (top,

bowling) and Cineplex

(bottom left and right,

arcade) CEC locations can

enjoy a wide variety of

attractions along with their

movies. Images courtesy

Cinergy Entertainment

Group and Cineplex

Left: The lobby of CGV’s

cultureplex, whose motto is

“Evolving Beyond Movies,”

courtesy CJ CGV

Right, above: The bar and

bowling areas at ShowBiz

Cinemas, courtesy the

exhibitor

50 August 2020


Coming to America

“We envision that the CGV

cultureplex concept has great

potential when entering the U.S.

Although CGV currently operates

only two theaters with 11 screens

in Los Angeles and Buena Park,

California, CGV was able to

introduce innovative cinematic

technologies—4DX and ScreenX—

for the first time in the market.”

—Sunghae Hong, Marketing

Manager, CGV America

Seo. “For us, being a ‘cultureplex’ means

to be a cultural playground, where people

can gather to experience all different types

of culture, from film, music, performances,

games, food, drinks, and so on.”

CJ CGV opened its first cultureplex

location in South Korea, CGV Chungdam, in

2011. The concept has grown alongside the

circuit’s global expansion; today there are

more than 580 cultureplex locations in eight

countries around the world. The company’s

cinema technology arm, CJ 4DPlex, offers

experiential innovations that can be

integrated into cinemas, such as immersive

seating (4DX), panoramic screens (ScreenX),

and virtual reality (4DX VR), to other major

circuits around the world.

Back in the United States, third-generation

exhibition veteran Kevin Mitchell

was similarly looking at ways to expand

the scope of what cinemas could offer

their patrons. “We first started toying

with the idea of adding an entertainment

component that would help us get away

from being a completely product-driven

business when I started [ShowBiz Cinemas]

in 2007,” says Mitchell, who serves

as the circuit’s CEO. Mitchell was interested

in adding another profit center to his

new circuit but was wary of “just slapping

a bowling alley onto a movie theater.”

“We spent a lot of time at the drawing

board pioneering a manageable and

consistently profitable entertainment

destination that incorporated bowling,

arcade gaming, movie auditoriums, a full

bar, and our food and beverage concept

into a unique and cohesive experience for

our customers,” he says. The process was

delayed as the real estate market slowly

recovered from the 2008 recession; it took

time to convince banks and development

partners to invest in innovation in what

was already a mature industry. ShowBiz’s

first Bowling, Movies and More! was

unveiled in Baytown, Texas, in 2015. The

circuit expects to have at least six cinema

entertainment centers in its fleet by the

end of 2020, with plans to open multiple

additional locations in the coming years.

As with cinema dining in the previous

decade, Texas became a hotbed of

innovation when it came to cinema

entertainment centers throughout the

2010s. Santikos Entertainment, which

operates nine theaters in the San Antonio

area, leveraged its own in-house real estate

team to find and develop the ideal location

for its first CEC. That site, Santikos Casa

Blanca, opened in June 2016 and incorporates

16 lanes of bowling, an arcade, sports

bar, and café. Santikos recently announced

plans to open another CEC in what will be

its 11th San Antonio location.

Evo Entertainment, the brainchild of

Mitchell Roberts, another Texas executive

with deep multigenerational roots in

the industry, opened its first CEC in

November 2014. Located in Kyle, Texas,

the 70,000-square-foot complex houses 11

screens, 14 bowling lanes, a 3,500-squarefoot

game arcade, a bar and grill, and

spaces for parties and corporate events.

Today, Evo has six Texas locations, with

a seventh, in southwest San Antonio (its

largest at 80,000 square feet), scheduled to

open in January 2021.

Its CEC in Schertz, Texas, which opened

August 2020

51


THEATER TRENDS

in March 2019, boasts an outdoor patio

with fire pits and oversized TV screens.

“The goal has always been to turn our

facilities into social destinations where,

whether it’s going to a movie or going to

the family-entertainment-center side,

people are just escaping their daily lives

to hang out and be social. And what better

place to do that in central Texas than

outside on a patio?” Roberts says.

“The beautiful thing about Texas

is that it is such an innovative state

when it comes to our industry,” he says.

“Texas [can be seen] as the birthplace of

dine-in cinema, one of the birthplaces

of the hybrid model. We have a lot of

great operators—and a lot of saturation

in markets with innovative concepts. I

don’t want to say it would be easier to

operate outside of Texas, because I don’t

think that’s the case, but it would be very

beneficial to get outside and see what

the hybrid model can do in markets that

haven’t seen it yet.”

Despite justifiable Texas pride, the CEC

concept has been introduced in new parts

of the United States in recent years. B&B

Theatres had its first internal discussions

about adding a CEC to its circuit as early

as 2013. “There would be conversations

where our CFO said, ‘Look, theaters are

our core competency. Why would we want

to go into a business that we do not have

a core competency in?’ I didn’t have the

data. At that point my argument was, we

just should!” says Dennis McIntire, B&B’s

executive director of development and

construction. “I will tell you right now,

I was right and he was wrong—and I’d

really like for that to get into the article.

If you only quote me once in this story,

‘I was right; he was wrong.’ It took a lot

of conversations to bring everybody on

board.” [Editor’s Note: As someone who

is frequently on the losing end of similar

conversations with a CFO, I have obliged

Mr. McIntire’s request.]

B&B was right to be cautious. Opening

a cinema entertainment center requires

additional investments in time, space,

money, training, and maintenance—on

top of the already straining demands of

operating a cinema. “You need training

programs, manuals, books, procedures,

and processes for everything in the

building,” says Cinergy’s Benson. “There

are different little sub-businesses within

the business. That means having individual

standard operating procedures for

running the ropes course, the ax throwing,

the game room and redemption store, for

running a bar—and, of course, for having

a restaurant. We had to learn all these

different little sub-industries, besides the

food and beverage component. It took

time and a whole lot of money.”

B&B’s McIntire sat down with the different

vendors that would be involved in

running a CEC to get a better understanding

of the numbers behind the business.

Ultimately, with the right numbers and

the support of the executive team and

developer, the circuit decided to commit

to opening its first CEC in its new Ankeny,

Iowa location in 2018. The success of that

52 August 2020


site was proof of concept for B&B Theatres;

the circuit has already announced plans to

add CEC locations to new builds in Kansas

City, Missouri, and Red Oak, Texas, in the

coming months.

Committing to the CEC concept

requires a great deal of space and a certain

amount of flexibility. While a regular cinema

can be housed in a building of around

40,000 square feet, CECs often require

twice as much space to be viable entertainment

destinations. Finding a building big

enough to accommodate entertainment

attractions isn’t enough; its location is also

crucial to the concept’s success. “You can’t

just build this in the middle of a field. You

want the development to come in around

you,” says McIntire. “If you’re working

with a developer who’s just looking to fill

80,000 square feet in a second-tier strip

center, that probably won’t work. This is a

very expensive building, and if you don’t

have the people in the market to support

it, then it doesn’t matter if you build a

cathedral. If there are no parishioners,

there’s nobody coming to church.”

“We’re looking for high-income, but

not too high-income,” says B&B Theatres

executive vice president Brock Bagby

about his circuit’s ideal demographic for

CECs. “We’re targeting young families in

fast-growing markets with continuous

growth. We’re excited about those markets

that are on the edge of a major city and are

exploding. You see that a lot all over the

nation, towns that are an hour from downtown,

but they’re exploding and building

thousands and thousands of new homes.

That’s all driven by young families with

disposable income—not necessarily the ‘1

percent,’ who don’t go out to the movies as

much. Kind of upper middle class; that’s

your target demographic.

“It’s similar to Topgolf’s approach.

There’s only so many in any given market,”

Bagby adds, referring to the trendy entertainment

venues that combine a modified

golf driving range with an adult-orientated

lounge. “We’re looking at a second site in

Des Moines, but we don’t feel like there’s

room for a third or fourth site. Topgolf did

the same thing in Miami. They only have

two locations there. You can definitely

overdo it. You need to know each market.

Because you’re not just building another

movie theater; you’re building something

that you want people to drive to from an

hour away.”

Once a location is secured, its layout

You Are Here

“When we’re relatively busy,

there’ll be a concierge who is just

off the front door. So if anybody

looks lost, if anybody needs help,

we can take care of it right there.

I’ve been into some of these

where you wander in the building

and you don’t know what you’re

supposed to do; there’s no clear

place to buy a ticket; there’s

nobody there to help you. That’s

really off-putting to customers.”

—Dennis McIntire, Executive

Director of Development and

Construction, B&B Theatres

Left: A patio with fire

pits beckons visitors

to Evo Entertainment’s

Schertz, Texas location.

Image courtesy

Evo Entertainment and

5G Studios

Below: The game

room at B&B’s Ankeny,

Iowa complex. Image

courtesy B&B Theatres

plays an outsize role in its eventual earnings,

says Cinergy’s Benson. “People-flow

within the building is critical. In a movie

theater, you come in, you hit the concession

stand or stop by the bathroom on the

way to the auditorium, you leave. With

cinema entertainment centers, you need

to set them up where people can get to the

game room, find the bowling, and stop by

the bar on their way in or out of the auditorium.

I’ve got some that are laid out wrong

and others that are laid out right, and the

percentages of revenue between the two

are radically different from each other.”

“We learned a lot from our Casa Blanca

location. There are things we would have

done differently there,” says Andrew

Brooks, executive director of marketing

and sales at Santikos. The circuit applied

the lessons from its first location in planning

for its second CEC, Santikos Cibolo,

which opened in May 2019. “We moved

some things around, switched some games

to different spots, and it’s been fantastic.

We have a virtual reality area that we can

expand as it grows—or move out if we

need to. We have a 4,000-square-foot,

two-level laser tag that’s been amazingly

successful as we gain traction in team

building and corporate events. We designed

those spaces, keeping in mind that

if they weren’t succeeding or working out,

we could change them into an auditorium

or something else.”

Once a building is laid out, operators

customize their own CEC by selecting

attractions to supplement the movie

theater portion of the building. It takes

diligence to ensure each part of the building

August 2020

53


THEATER TRENDS

COMING

ATTRACTIONS

Highlights from Cinema

Entertainment Centers

Arcade

Paper tickets are no longer

required at 21st-century

arcades, where patrons

can win prizes by

redeeming their (digital,

card-based) spoils.

Ax Throwing

It might seem like an

insurance headache, but

this trendy attraction is

low-tech, low-cost, and

popular with patrons.

Bowling

Aside from the movies

themselves, bowling is the

bread and butter of the

CEC concept.

Bumper Cars

You’ll never be part of

Dom Toretto’s family, but

CEC patrons who want a

little bit of that fast and

furious action can try their

hand at bumper cars.

Glow Golf

How do you make golf

more glam? Turn off the

lights and turn up the

neon. All four of FatCats’

CEC locations offer glow

golf—pirate-themed or

space-themed, depending

on the city.

Escape Rooms

This on-trend attraction

prizes teamwork and

puzzle-solving as

groups work together

to solve the mystery of

the escape room.

Laser Tag

Santikos’s second CEC

location, in Cibolo, Texas,

offers Lasertron laser tag

for children and adults

who want a little friendly

competition.

Mini Golf

The classics are classics

for a reason, and mini golf

is still a hit among CEC

patrons.

Karaoke

South Korea loves its

karaoke rooms, a fact that

is well proven at CJ CGV’s

cultureplex model.

Pickleball

With one CEC location

under its belt, B&B

Theatres is planning

to move outdoors—at

least partially—for its

future locations. One of

the attractions will be

pickleball, a racquet sport

that combines elements

of tennis, badminton, and

ping-pong.

Rock Climbing

Work off the calories you

consumed with all that

movie theater popcorn

(no judgment) with Strike

+ Reel’s rock climbing

wall, 24 feet high and lit

by LED lights.

Ropes Course

Strap on a harness and

get your Spider-Man on

(minus web-shooters)

at Strike + Reel’s ropes

course, suspended 20 feet

above the arcade floor.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality experiences

from companies like The

Void—which has provided

Cineplex’s The Rec Room

with some of its most

popular attractions—can

put guests inside the

world of a number of

blockbuster movies.

is performing to expectations. Cinergy has

kept a close eye on what to incorporate in

its CECs in its 11 years in the sector, always

careful to be flexible and innovative so

nothing inside the building goes stale.

“Back when we started it was all about

bowling, which is still popular, and laser tag,

which we’re moving on from,” says Benson.

“Today you have ax throwing, giant arcade

games, and escape rooms—attractions that

weren’t around even five years ago.”

Benson brings up escape rooms as

an example of a fad that can suddenly

emerge, only to become saturated and

go out of fashion just as quickly as it

came. “Five or six years ago escape

rooms barely existed in this country. At

this point, I wonder if escape rooms

haven’t already run their course—we are

thinking about not including them going

forward,” he says. “At some point it gets

saturated. Movie theaters are hard to

replicate—they’re big and expensive—but

an escape room or ax-throwing business,

they come and go. They can open up in

a retail shop with three or four thousand

square feet on a three-year lease, make

their money while it’s popular, and leave

when it starts to wane. That’s why we need

to continually reprogram our locations

with the latest and greatest concepts;

you never know when three escape-room

places could open around the corner from

you. Before you know it, everybody’s

escape-roomed out [and] your revenue

goes down. That’s a lot of square footage

dedicated to something that doesn’t make

much money anymore. We need to keep

up with all the amusement options out

there to figure out which ones are the best

and how long they might last.”

Kevin Mitchell from ShowBiz Cinemas

recognized that challenge in developing

his circuit’s CEC concept, which is why

he decided to focus on getting the basics

of the building right. “While there are

countless trendy attractions that can

be incorporated into an entertainment

center, we’ve drilled down our focus to

boutique bowling, movies, arcade games,

prize redemption, and food and beverage

concepts,” he says. “We’ve found this

allows us to be really good in those areas

without being solely dependent on a

studio release schedule, and it also allows

us to be a dominating destination zone

for entertainment while maintaining a

manageable footprint that is a good fit for

a variety of markets.”

Right: The Yard

gaming area (top) and

the Three10 restaurant

at Cineplex’s Rec

Room. Image courtesy

Cineplex

54 August 2020


Although arcades have been a regular

feature of cinema lobbies for decades,

operating a full-scale game zone with a

redemption center presents a host of new

challenges to operators coming from a

traditional theater background. “In an

arcade, you can have 40 games, and 22 of

them will have some type of mechanism

or play-action where the customer is

throwing, rolling, kicking—doing

something to the machine. It’s going to

break down,” says B&B’s McIntire. “The

balls are going to end up in the wrong spot.

The same applies to bowling: you’ve got a

15-pound ball rolling 25 miles an hour at

10 projectiles. Something’s going to break.

That was our biggest mindset that we had

to get over, that this was going to require a

lot more attention per square foot than any

Ready Player One

“People speak with their dollars.

We know which games are our best

and worst earners, a lot like tracking

the box office. We know what’s

performing and what we need to

replace. Every six months, [when] we

do our game purchases, we’re going

to move out the lowest 10 games

and bring in 10 new games.”

—Jeff Benson, CEO, Cinergy

Entertainment

of our theaters,” he says.

Sarah Van Lange, Cineplex’s executive

director of communications, says one

of the biggest challenges of operating an

arcade at a CEC is “finding the right combination

of games that will continue to

excite our guests every time they visit our

theaters. Fortunately, we have a team of

experts who not only keep up on trends in

amusement gaming but understand which

games will appeal to which demographics,

creating that perfect mix of the latest

high-tech and classic, nostalgia-filled

games,” she says.

Based on the success of its Xscape

concept, Cineplex has incorporated new,

branded locations into its circuit. These

include Playdium, targeted to younger

crowds, where approximately two-thirds

of the complex is dedicated to the latest

amusement games, bowling, and virtual

reality, with the other third offering a range

of on-the-go bites and handcrafted dishes.

Cineplex plans to open 10 to 15 Playdium

locations in midsize communities

throughout Canada this year. The company

also has eight locations of The Rec Room,

family entertainment centers (FEC) without

cinemas that offer food, live entertainment,

amusement gaming, and feature attractions

under one roof.

This past November, Cineplex

announced yet another concept, its

most wide-ranging yet: Junxion. Anne

Fitzgerald, the circuit’s chief legal officer,

describes the concept as “a cross between

the Rec Room experience and the

theater experience, having both in the

same building.”

“Junxion guests will have their pick of

exciting programming and events, including

live music, trivia nights, game nights,

outdoor screenings of movies and live TV

events, and more,” adds Van Lange. The

complex will also feature an arcade with

new and classic video and redemption

games, virtual reality experiences, and a

food hall including an indoor food truck

and a bar selling wine and craft beer.

Cinemas will remain an integral part of

the Junxion concept, including Cineplex’s

UltraAVX premium screens and food and

drink service as viewers relax in their

recliner seats.”

Cineplex plans to roll out the Junxion

concept in Canada in the coming years.

“We will leverage retrofits of our existing

theater network as well as new locations,

including at Kildonan Place in Winnipeg,

August 2020

55


THEATER TRENDS

Virtual Reality

Cineplex is part owner of the

virtual reality provider VRstudios,

and Van Lange says these “hugely

popular” experiences “allow guests

to completely immerse themselves

into new worlds—whether they are

playing as individuals in ATOM

pods, or playing with their friends

as a group in the VRcade area.

One of the most popular offerings

at The Rec Room is the hyperreality

experience, The Void, which

immerses guests in an environment

that includes sight, sound, touch,

smell, and motion.”

Manitoba, and the first Junxion location

at Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga,

Ontario,” says Van Lange.

By adding a cinema component to

its already popular Rec Room concept,

Cineplex’s Junxion idea acknowledges the

drawing power movie theaters retain in

attracting patrons to a CEC. Evo’s Roberts

confirms that the biggest draw at his circuit

continues to be new releases. “People

are still coming in to see movies,” he says,

“but as we’ve continued to improve and

learn the FEC side, we see a significant

amount of traffic that comes from that, too.

They really feed each other.”

The success of film programming has

inspired some traditional FEC operators to

add cinemas to their buildings, approaching

the CEC concept from the other end

of the spectrum. FatCats Entertainment

opened its first FEC in Salt Lake City in

August 2001, offering bowling, miniature

glow golf, an arcade, and a bar and grill.

Similar locations followed in Provo, Utah

(2002); Ogden, Utah (2007); and Westminster,

Colorado (2010).

Business predictably boomed or slowed

depending on the weather. “We had a

pretty profitable business six or seven

months of the year, but during the summer

months, we were giving back most of the

profits that we made during the periods of

time when the weather wasn’t great,” says

co-founder David Rutter.

That’s when FatCats decided to try its

hand at exhibition. In 2010, the company

opened its first cinema in its complex in

Rexburg, Idaho, a renovation of an existing

site. “There was definitely a learning curve

when it came to the intricacies of booking

films, determining the right size and how

many auditoriums, how many seats to

make it work in the most efficient way,”

says Rutter.

That seasonal trend was reversed at the

company’s Gilbert, Arizona location—its

second location to incorporate a cinema—

where the summer heat drives people to

air-conditioned indoor spaces. “We had a

lot of people coming who had no idea about

[the theater],” says Rutter. “It took time to

build that business up. Thank heavens for

Star Wars that winter, in December of 2015.

Most of the other theaters were full and

people realized, ‘I can’t get into my normal

theater, but I guess there’s a theater over

here, so we’ll go check this place out.’ That’s

when the business began to grow.”

56 August 2020


Right: The bowling

alley (top) and games

arcade at FatCats.

Image courtesy FatCats

Entertainment

Left, below: Virtual

reality shooters at a

Cinergy CEC. Image

courtesy Cinergy

Entertainment

Since then, FatCats has added cinemas

to its new locations in Saratoga Springs,

Utah, and Mesa, Arizona—and has plans

to make its upcoming location in Queen

Creek, Arizona, a CEC as well.

“The movies really drive [business].

That’s the beauty of it; Hollywood spends

millions of dollars promoting films, and

we’re a place where people can come to

experience that,” says Rutter. He has

observed that once they’re in the building,

patrons are more willing to spend additional

money on the other entertainment

attractions on hand. Evo’s Mitchell

Roberts has the data to back up that assertion:

“We see an average of about three

and a half hours per visit compared to the

traditional cinemas, where we’re seeing

anywhere between an hour and a half to

two hours. People stick around longer.”

A lot more space translates into the

need for a lot more employees. Yet just

because CEC locations are (at least) twice

as big as regular movie theaters, it doesn’t

mean that simply doubling the staff will

suffice. Mark Moore, CEO of Entertainment

Properties Group, which runs both traditional

FEC brands and a new CEC project

under the Strike + Reel banner in Texas, is

unequivocal about the hardest part of the

business. “The biggest challenge is staffing

a 90,000-square-foot venue,” he says. “A

facility this large has to have an extensive

management team in place.”

B&B’s Brock Bagby cites staffing as

the most unexpected element in his own

circuit’s incursion into the sector. “We’ve

been very surprised at how challenging

it is,” he says. “The amount of payroll ...

you have to staff bowling, the arcade, the

restaurant. [At a regular theater] it’s just

tickets and concessions. Now we’ve got

two full kitchens: one for the theaters, one

for the restaurant. The staffing is more

than double a traditional theater. And the

operations to run these things are just huge.

You’re running three or four businesses

in one. It’s a lot more work than we ever

anticipated, but it’s exciting. … We have 10

managers in our Ankeny location. Ten!”

B&B Theaters went as far as creating a

dedicated team whose sole job is opening

its CEC locations. The circuit has plans to

add five more CECs (which it calls “Luxury

Entertainment Centers”) to its fleet of

cinemas in the coming years. “We’re

taking it a step further with a ropes course,

karaoke rooms, escape rooms, and then

we have an outdoor component that we’re

working on,” says Brock Bagby.

Cinergy, a circuit that exclusively

hosts CECs, counts on a corporate office

of 35 executives to oversee operations for

its five existing locations. “That’s a big

corporate overhead for just five theaters,

but we’re set up to go out and add

probably 10 more over the next few years

without having to add too many more

people,” says Jeff Benson.

Since the trend is still in its relatively

early stages, the potential for nationwide

expansion is vast. Like the dine-in,

recliner, PLF, and VIP auditorium trends

that have come before, the CEC may be

seen as a gimmick today but could quickly

proliferate across the market if the business

model remains strong. Rutter, from FatCats

August 2020

57


THEATER TRENDS

Entertainment, emphasizes the profitability

of attractions that don’t carry sustained

costs. “Our profit margin isn’t as high on

food as it is on, say, bowling or miniature

golf—those kinds of things where you don’t

have an inherent cost of goods that you’ve

got to pay,” he says.

Other factors, such as the rise of the

experience economy—where out-of-home

experiences are considered more valuable

than home-entertainment platforms—or

the increased availability of retail space

as consumers shift their buying habits

online, could become catalysts in the rise

of cinema entertainment centers in the

domestic market.

For an exhibitor like Cinergy, the CEC

concept represents an ideal growth strategy

in today’s era of industry consolidation

among studios and exhibitors—but only

if you use the right tactics. “You want to

maximize gross margin,” says Benson.

“Let’s face it, we don’t make a lot of money

on the movies—we need to split that with

the studios. If someone is going to spend

$10 at my place, where do I want them to

spend it? We focus on the areas we know

can make the most money, and that to me

is where a lot of mistakes are being made

when people say they’re seeing marginal

results from this business. It’s not that the

entertainment concepts are wrong. It’s

likely that the building’s layout has a lot to

do with its performance.”

For Cinergy, CECs have been successful

because the concept is consistently

updated and refined; passing fads are

avoided. That sort of big-picture approach

stands in stark contrast to the day-to-day

operations of a traditional movie theater,

where a cyclical release calendar requires

less hands-on attention by management.

“That’s the thing about movies: They

reprogram themselves every week. It’s

always fresh,” says Benson. “You reinvest

in regular theaters with new technologies

like digital projectors and recliners, but

the content changes every week. That’s not

the case in an entertainment center. You

need to continually reinvest and update

the other half of your building, the half

without a movie theater, to make sure your

revenue isn’t declining each year.”

If tackled correctly, cinema entertainment

centers can help distinguish a

circuit’s identity and help define its brand

as a unique out-of-home-entertainment

destination. For a circuit like ShowBiz

Cinema Entertainment Centers

and the Experience Economy

“[On social media] we highlight

what we call the Evo experience,

or the evolution of entertainment.

It’s really just people having fun in

the numerous ways that they can,

because what we’re all about is

making memories. That’s pretty easy

to show, people having fun and

creating memories. That’s primarily

how we promote. Beyond that, we

rely on word of mouth: ‘Come and

have a great time and share with

your friends—Hey, you should really

check this place out!’”

—Mitchell Roberts, CEO, Evo

Entertainment

58 August 2020


Cinemas, which operates both traditional

theaters and CECs, it represents a great

opportunity in the coming decade. “We’ve

had great success with our Bowling, Movies

and More! concept since opening our

first location. We are finding new ways to

improve it with each new facility we build,”

says Mitchell. “These buildings are expensive

to build and very labor intensive, and

we continue to look for ways to improve in

those areas without sacrificing quality.”

Around 56 percent of the ShowBiz

circuit incorporates entertainment

components that its traditional theaters

don’t offer. ShowBiz is introducing its CEC

concept to the renovation of its Waxahachie,

Texas location—and will bring

Bowling, Movies and More! to a new site

in Idaho Falls, Idaho, scheduled to open in

December. By the end of 2020, it expects

cinema entertainment centers to comprise

70 percent of its total footprint.

“As we continue to grow, our Bowling,

Movies and More! entertainment-center

concept is driving the entire ShowBiz

brand,” he adds. “We’ve been very pleased

with the success of this concept, and all

of our new builds going forward will be

with our signature entertainment-center

concept. We’re in rapid growth mode right

now and will be opening multiple [CEC]

locations across the country annually.”

For a circuit like Cinergy, refining

and perfecting the CEC concept is a

long-term commitment—not only to its

customers, but to staying a step ahead of

its competitors. In December, the circuit

announced its Amarillo, Texas location

(opened in 2018) had been honored as the

world’s top family entertainment center at

the annual convention of the International

Association of Amusement Parks and

Attractions (IAAPA). More than 120 judges

participated in selecting the winner from

among IAAPA’s 5,300 members, representing

over 100 countries.

As the trend continues to grow beyond

Texas, Benson is more determined than

ever to continue thriving in the business.

“It’s still early. You’re seeing larger circuits

like B&B Theatres building some of these

centers, but most big circuits haven’t

delved into it deeply yet,” he says. “What

you see now is similar to what was going

on in the early days of dine-in, where you

have the smaller independents that are

more flexible with their business models

taking the risk and adopting these concepts.

I think you’re going to see a whole

lot more of them. I wish I could say we’re

the only ones doing this. We know we

aren’t, and that’s OK. We want to pick our

locations strategically and build as many

as we can, as fast as we can.”

THE EXHIBITORS

HAVE THEIR SAY

So You Want to Open Your Own

Cinema Entertainment Center?

“Don’t start a new company without having

some form of existing cash flow, for starters.

We made a lot of mistakes starting off and

will more than likely make a few more along

the way, but the key is to minimize those

mistakes and learn from all of them. If you

are not making mistakes, then you are

probably not taking risks. My dad taught me

long ago that sometimes you have to climb

out on that limb, because that is where the

fruit is.”

—Kevin Mitchell, President & CEO, ShowBiz

Cinemas

“Listen to the experts. One of the first

things we did when we decided we were

going to do this was engage a consultant

in the FEC industry. We know theaters, and

it drives us crazy when people get into the

theater businesses saying, ‘Well, how hard

can it be?’ When you slow down and you

bring in somebody with the expertise, listen

to them. We come with 95 years of theater

experience, and I can tell you that there

were times when it was unspoken, but

we thought, ‘Oh, we know how to do that

better than they do.’ And those were the

things that ended up biting us.”

—Dennis McIntire, Executive Director of

Development and Construction, B&B

Theatres

“A lot of it is Basic Management 101.

You’ve got to have the right people in the

right places—and we didn’t, not at first.

We ended up having to spend a lot to get

the right management team, which we

now have.”

—Jeff Benson, CEO, Cinergy Entertainment

“As with any new entertainment

venture, there will be growing pains.

Communication and positivity with your

team are key to keep the focus on the big

picture while knocking out the punch list

one item at a time. Don’t forget that the

goal is to provide fun for your guests and

have fun while doing it.”

—Mark Moore, CEO, Entertainment Properties

Group

Left: Young basketball

hotshots at B&B’s Ankeny,

Iowa location. Image

courtesy B&B Theatres

August 2020

59


THEATER INTERMISSION

INTERMISSION

Independent movie theater

marquees during the pause

The Loft Cinema, Photo by Tim Fuller

North Park Theatre

The World Theatre (at Night), Photo by Bryce Jensen

60 August 2020


Music Box, Photo by Ari Neiditz

Coolidge Corner Theatre

Hollywood Theatre Portland, Photo by Dan Halsted

Plaza Theatre, Photo by CJ Swank

Colonial Theatre, Photo by LuAnn Roth

The Frida Cinema, Image courtesy of The Frida Cinema

August 2020

61


Theater DRIVE-IN SUMMER

DRIVE-IN

SUMMER

With movie theaters forced to close their

doors, the drive-in once again became the

main attraction for summer movie audiences

BY CHRIS EGGERTSEN

62 August 2020


Photo courtesy IFC Films

As people around the world became

better acquainted with their living

rooms, those who ventured outside did

so by adhering to the two most important

words of the pandemic: social distancing.

Drive-in cinemas emerged as one of the

few outdoor entertainment options where

people could confidently congregate

while maintaining a safe distance. With

approximately 330 drive-in locations in

the United States, those with existing

lots opened their doors as soon as they

could, while others took creative routes to

welcome back audiences. In this anthology

of our digital coverage, we look at how the

moviegoing summer of 2020 brought about

the resurgence of drive-in culture.

August 2020

63


Theater DRIVE-IN SUMMER

PARKING LOT CINEMA

Originally published on May 7, 2020

With most U.S. theaters shuttered due to

the novel coronavirus pandemic, some

exhibitors have devised innovative

solutions to keep their businesses afloat

during the shutdown. For some, like the

Florida-based chain Epic Theatres, those

solutions have included temporary—and

often highly improvised—conversions to

the once-voguish drive-in format.

“We pulled an old screen out of storage

and built a frame from PVC pipe, [then]

hung the screen over the side of our

largest auditorium wall,” says Epic

Theatres co-owner and I.T. director

Weegee DeMarsh, who, along with his

brother and co-owner, Joe DeMarsh,

opened a pop-up drive-in at Epic’s Deltona

location on March 20. Though they were

later forced to remove the screen due to

forecasted summer rains, the DeMarshes

didn’t let that stop them. In a decidedly

makeshift but highly effective solution,

they proceeded to paint the auditorium

wall white. “That has worked out nicely,”

says Weegee. So nicely, in fact, that Epic

has since duplicated the formula at its

Clermont and St. Augustine locations.

Though drive-in conversions remain

exceedingly rare—indeed, many U.S.

states won’t allow them during the

pandemic—their implementation

has become increasingly common

as struggling theaters scramble for

ways to generate revenue amid the

unprecedented shutdown.

That said, pop-up drive-ins (as they

have come to be known) aren’t a feasible

solution for every theater. In addition

to the often-insurmountable financial

costs involved, there are logistical

considerations to account for. As

Entertainment Supply & Technologies’

vice president of technology sales Scott

McCallum tells Boxoffice Pro, the close

proximity of many theaters to shopping

centers and other businesses that use

bright, automatic security lights after dark

can make operating these ad hoc drive-ins

an all but impossible challenge.

“Light and outdoor movies are not fans

of one another,” says McCallum, who is

currently assisting a number of theaters

with drive-in conversions. “And that

becomes a challenge if you’re a theater in

a shopping mall. You know, you’ve got all

the ambient light around. Or if you’re next

to a car dealership or whatnot. Traditional

drive-ins have been in remote areas on the

outskirts of town.”

For theaters looking to hire out

companies like Entertainment Supply

& Technologies for their drive-in

conversions, the cost can be prohibitive.

The FM broadcast equipment required

to play sound through hundreds of car

speakers can run between $5,000 and

$10,000, says McCallum. Add a projector

into the mix, and you’re out another

$6,000 to $7,000. For those who request

the full package—including proper

screens, metal frames, servers, sanitary

products, and more—the cost could run

anywhere between $50,000 and $100,00

at the high end, according to informal

estimates provided by McCallum and

Alex Younger, CEO of cinema solutions

company CES+.

In the event a theater decides to move

forward with a conversion, time can also

become an issue, says Younger, who as of

last week had sent out 11 pop-up drive-in

proposals to theaters in both the U.S. and

Latin America.

“Some of these factories, they’re closed

too, so it [becomes] a supply chain game

where, what can we count on from the

vendors?” says Younger. “It’s difficult to

move and operate. We’ve run into those

hiccups where [suppliers say], ‘Oh, I don’t

have product.’”

With theaters looking at a potential

delay of weeks, if not months, due

to supply chain issues, cinemas—

particularly those operating in colder

64 August 2020


climates—may already be running out of

time, says Younger. “In some cases,” he

adds, “we [may have] to develop our own

equipment to sell to them.”

Even once a conversion is completed

successfully, there are other issues to

contend with. During a pandemic, safety

is paramount, and each drive-in is forced

to follow guidelines set down by state and

local officials. Eric Hansen, a consultant

who has assisted with makeshift, low-cost

drive-in conversions at Aspen Cinemas in

Evanston, Wyoming, and Water Gardens

Cinema in Pleasant Grove, Utah (both of

which cost in the $2,000–$3,000 range),

says regulations can often be strict.

“When we first announced this thing, we

wanted to make sure that we had all of those

things kind of ironed out,” says Hansen,

who notes that each of the two theaters he

works with typically dedicates “one or two”

employees to parking lot supervision. “If

you go to the Evanston [theater’s] website,

they have a drive-in information page that’s

dedicated to all of the rules. We are pretty

strict with all that. You know, you have to

stay in your car. You can’t get in the bed of

your truck, you can’t open the hatches of

your vehicle, things like that.”

These restrictions can make allimportant

concession sales into

something of an ordeal. Hansen notes

that while both the Evanston and Pleasant

Grove drive-ins have set up concession

systems via an online store—through

which customers can place orders for

snacks before texting a dedicated phone

number to indicate where they’re parked—

food deliveries (handed out driver-side by

employees outfitted in masks and gloves)

can take a long time to get to customers.

That can lead to some frustration on the

part of both customers and employees.

“On our busy days, it takes a little bit

longer because of the logistics behind

it all,” says Hansen, who pauses before

continuing dryly: “We’ll be grateful when

we don’t have to do that anymore, let’s put

it that way. It’s kind of a pain.”

Another significant issue to consider

is how best to provide bathrooms for

customers in a time of physical-distancing

mandates. While both Hansen and the

DeMarshes tell Boxoffice Pro they’re

offering access to their theaters’ indoor

bathrooms during screenings, only one

group or individual is allowed in at a time,

and six feet of space is mandated between

each person or group waiting in line. That

can result in longer wait times for facilities.

Parking lot sizes are also an important

factor to consider for theaters mulling

a conversion. Some, like all three Epic

Theatres locations, can accommodate

only small crowds (the Deltona and

St. Augustine locations fit only 113 and

75 cars, respectively). Others, like EVO

Entertainment Group’s locations in

both Schertz and Kyle, Texas (both of

which reopened indoor operations with a

limited capacity on Monday, May 4, while

continuing to operate their pop-up driveins),

get more bang for their buck; the

Schertz location alone has managed to

accommodate nearly 1,600 vehicles for a

single showing.

Despite the logistical hurdles, once

installed, the concept has been taking

hold in many communities—not only

providing out-of-home entertainment

for the quarantined populous, but

allowing theaters to keep employees on

staff. (Hansen tells us the Evanston and

Pleasant Grove theaters have actually

hired extra staff to deal with the extra,

pandemic-compounded burdens that

stem from the drive-in format.) Several

of EVO’s drive-in screenings have been

complete sellouts, leading the company

to ponder keeping them in operation even

once the pandemic has subsided.

“We see the EVO drive-in concept

as becoming a regular component of

our alternative programming, even

after the environment shifts back to

normalcy,” says EVO Entertainment

Group CEO Mitchell Roberts, who says

the only outside equipment the company

purchased for their conversions were FM

transmitters (everything else was either

custom made or came from in-house).

“However, our primary focus will be

reopening our in-venue experiences and

implementing our new operating plans

with enhanced safety measures.”

As Roberts indicates, these conversions

may not be the future of moviegoing

in the U.S., but drive-ins (both pop-up

and traditional) are in higher demand

than they have been in decades—and

they could stick around beyond the

scope of the pandemic, particularly if

fears of contagion continue to linger.

As McCallum notes, drive-ins showing

retro content licensed from the studios—

popular titles include such films as

Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Harry

Potter, Jaws, and Grease—can also offer a

nostalgic pull for some, adding an extra

layer to the experience.

“I think people will remember when

they were kids going to the drive-ins,” he

says. Still, in his estimation, the format’s

appeal will remain limited if studios’

theatrical release slates remain empty

throughout the summer season—and

perhaps even beyond that.

“If there’s no blockbuster content

available to draw the crowds in this summer,

if it’s pushed off till the fall or to the

holidays, that doesn’t help,” says McCallum.

“Retro [movies are] nostalgic and fun, but

they need the Star Wars or the Wonder

Womans. That draws people into drive-ins

just like it does into the regular theaters.”

Left, top and bottom:

Texas-based Evo

Entertainment hosts a

drive-in evening in the

parking lot of one of its

locations. Photo courtesy

Evo Entertainment.

Despite the logistical

hurdles, once installed, the

concept has been taking

hold in many communities—

not only providing out-ofhome

entertainment for the

quarantined populous, but

allowing theaters to keep

employees on staff.

August 2020

65


Theater DRIVE-IN SUMMER

Left: The B&B Twin Drive-

In in Independence,

Missouri. Photo courtesy

B&B Theatres

Right: The Showcase

Drive-In at Patriot

Place in Foxborough,

Massachusetts (top),

photo courtesy Showcase

Cinemas. The Malco

Summer Drive-In in

Memphis, Tennessee,

photo courtesy Malco

Theatres

MAJOR CIRCUITS

EMBRACE THE DRIVE-IN

AS THEY TRANSITION

INTO REOPENING

Originally published on June 24, 2020

On May 30, Showcase Cinemas opened

a “pop-up” drive-in theater at its

Patriot Place location in Foxborough,

Massachusetts, with a screening of Steven

Spielberg’s 1981 classic Raiders of the Lost

Ark. The sold-out event—which doubled

as a fundraiser for the local Foxboro Food

Pantry—amounted to a full-circle moment

for the exhibitor, which was one of the first

chains to embrace the drive-in concept

beginning in the late 1930s.

“It’s interesting that Showcase is

starting out with a drive-in as part of our

reopening, because it’s part of our DNA

and our history,” says Mark Malinowski,

Showcase’s vice president of global

marketing. In addition to establishing one

of the country’s first drive-ins—the nowdefunct

Sunrise Drive-In on Long Island,

which opened in 1938 with a screening

of the Jimmy Durante musical Start

Cheering—several of its current hardtop

locations, including Legacy Place in

Dedham, Massachusetts, and the Cinema

de Lux in Revere, Massachusetts, were

originally launched as drive-in venues.

The current resurgence of the drive-in

format is a phenomenon that would have

been inconceivable just a few months

ago. But with the coronavirus continuing

to circulate widely in the U.S. more than

three months into the pandemic, and

with the majority of hard-top theaters

remaining shuttered, drive-ins remain the

only moviegoing option in many areas

of the country. That reality is about to

change, however—and for major chains

now prepping for a reopening of their

indoor locations for the first time since

mid-March, “pop-up” drive-ins are being

viewed as a transitional step, allowing

them to test out safety protocols before

top-tier studio releases including Mulan,

Tenet, and Bill & Ted Face the Music are

unleashed in theaters.

Marcus Theatres has been dabbling

in the “parking lot cinema” concept

even more extensively than Showcase.

The country’s fourth-largest exhibitor

currently operates pop-up drive-ins at

five locations: Elgin in Illinois, Majestic of

Brookfield and South Shore in Wisconsin,

Pickerington in Ohio, and Twin Creek in

Nebraska. Marcus CEO and president (and

current NATO vice chairman) Rolando

Rodriguez says that one of the first of

these to open, Twin Creek in the town of

Bellevue, saw sellouts in its first 10 days of

operation—a turnout he believes speaks

to a “pent-up” demand from moviegoers

who have been barred from entering

their local multiplexes for months. “I

think people are ready to go back to some

level of normalcy,” he says. “And I feel

confident that we’re going to be providing

that as an industry.”

When asked to list some of the

challenges of operating these pop-up

locations—each of which took roughly a

week to set up—Rodriguez employed the

more optimistic phrase “key learnings” to

discuss the inevitable logistical hurdles

that came with the process. Among them:

dealing with the “ingress and egress” of

vehicles into and out of the parking lot;

ensuring all cars are parked 15 minutes

before showtime to avoid disturbances

from latecomers; and effectively educating

guests on how to preorder tickets and

concessions online.

More importantly for Rodriguez, the

pop-ups have given Marcus Theatres

the opportunity to test out many of the

health and safety protocols the company

has been developing over the last several

months. “[We want] to make sure that

when we reopen our regular theaters, a lot

of these plans that we’ve been working on

will be not only good plans, but executable

plans,” he says. Though there are certain

components of the new guidelines that

can only be tested indoors, a number of

procedures—including the use of masks,

social distancing markers, placement of

sanitation stations and the concessions

66 August 2020


preordering system—have been put into

practice at the drive-ins, allowing the

company to conduct a trial run before it

executes a full-scale reopening.

Showcase, too, used its single popup

drive-in as a run-through for the

company’s “Be Showcase Safe” initiative,

which includes a new ticketing and

concessions preorder function on its

website and app to facilitate no-contact

payments. “This was our first time

testing it out, kicking the tires on it,” says

Malinowski, “and it worked really well.”

Large chains are also testing health

and safety protocols at traditional

drive-ins. B&B Theatres, which operates

drive-in theaters in the towns of Moberly

and Independence, Missouri, has put

social distancing measures in place at

its two outdoor locations, eliminated

cash transactions, and reduced contact

between guests and employees at

the box office and concession areas.

Malco Theatres has employed similar

measures at its Summer Drive-In theater

in Memphis, including limiting guest

capacity to 50 percent.

Representatives for Marcus, Malco,

B&B, and Showcase all claim that

attendance has been strong at both their

pop-up and traditional drive-ins, though

just how eager moviegoers are to return

to hard-top locations—even once brandnew

blockbuster titles begin populating

multiplexes—remains an open question.

Some people we spoke to pushed back on

the idea that audiences will require much

of an incentive to return at all.

“I don’t think it is a matter of easing

movie fans back into coming to the

movies,” Malco Theatres’ senior vice

president of film and marketing Jeff

Kaufman told Boxoffice Pro via email.

“It is obvious that the high degree of pentup

demand for the theatrical experience

and need to get out of the house has

exploded, resulting in huge drive-in

attendance. People still love movies, and

we are grateful they are putting their

money where their fandom is.”

Those sentiments were echoed by

B&B Theatres director of publicity Paul

Farnsworth, who added, “While our drivein

operations did provide us the means

of presenting the public with some of our

revised cleaning and social distancing

protocols, I’m not sure that our guests

will need an ‘easing back in’ outside of

the parameters established by local and

“It is obvious that the high

degree of pent-up demand

for the theatrical experience

and need to get out of

the house has exploded,

resulting in huge drive-in

attendance.“

regional health authorities. In other words,

we feel and hope that our guests will

come back to cinemas once cinemas are

reopened and won’t require much in the

way of re-acclimation.”

Rodriguez was more measured when

asked whether drive-ins are a way of

mitigating anxieties for guests who may

be nervous about returning to indoor

locations—not to mention a reminder of

the value of moviegoing for those who

have been relegated to watching films at

home for the past several months.

“Think about this—our industry has

been pretty much shut down now for

almost three months,” he says. “So for

us, it was an important aspect to keep

connected with our guests and the

importance and the fun of moviegoing

and entertainment value associated with

it.” To accommodate guests who aren’t

yet comfortable watching movies in an

indoor theater, he adds, the company is

considering keeping its pop-up driveins

operational even once its hard-top

locations open for business.

Of course, reopening plans for

exhibitors across the country are highly

dependent upon major studios providing

new content—and with only a few highprofile

films slated for release over the

next several months, all eyes are on

Disney (Mulan), Warner Bros. (Tenet),

and others to follow through on those

plans. All exhibitor representatives

interviewed for this story expressed

confidence that the studios will keep

their remaining summer releases on

the calendar, but if coronavirus cases

begin to spike in a substantial way—a

phenomenon already being observed in

states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida—

reopening plans could be further delayed

in some areas.

“Let’s hope to God that that does

not happen—not just for the sake

of our industry but the sake of our

country,” says Rodriguez, who didn’t

rule out the possibility of opening more

pop-up drive-in locations if indoor

reopening plans get pushed back in

some communities. And if they do?

“Obviously, there are different ways to

provide that entertainment experience

during difficult times,” Rodriguez adds.

“What you’ve seen is we can be creative

and certainly adapt to whatever those

situations might become.”

August 2020

67


Theater DRIVE-IN SUMMER

PROGRAMMING: HOW

IFC FILMS’ THE WRETCHED

BECAME A SLEEPER HIT

ON THE DRIVE-IN CIRCUIT

Originally published on June 18, 2020

In an unprecedented spring season that

saw the shuttering of hard-top theaters, a

release slate emptied of major studio films,

and the improbable resurgence of driveins,

an unlikely hit emerged: IFC Films’

The Wretched, a low-budget horror film

about a young boy who is terrorized by a

thousand-year-old witch. Through the

end of its seventh weekend, the creature

feature had brought in a cool $1.37 million,

mainly from outdoor theaters, making

it arguably the first drive-in hit of the

modern era.

“Horror films in general have such

a long history of being at the drivein,”

Jasper Basch, director of sales and

distribution at IFC Films, tells Boxoffice

Pro. “This is just a continuation of a triedand-true

tradition.”

A lack of competition didn’t hurt. When

the major studios cleared their theatrical

slates during the spring months due to

“Cinemas are there for

every type of film, every

type of genre, but I think

drive-ins specifically

imply the popcorn movie

that everybody can go

see together and have a

good time.”

Covid-19, it created a fertile landscape for

an indie title like The Wretched to break

through. The film’s largely positive critical

reception (74% on Rotten Tomatoes) and

strong word of mouth also played a role in

its popularity. “I think a lot of [the success]

has to do with the film itself,” Basch adds.

“A good movie is always going to find its

audience—I’m a true believer about that.”

Needless to say, The Wretched directors

Drew and Brett Pierce couldn’t have

predicted that their film would be released

in the middle of a pandemic—nor that it

would lend itself so well to a format they

never expected to screen it in.

“We didn’t realize that we were making

the perfect drive-in movie,” says Drew,

who co-directed one previous feature with

Brett—the 2011 zombie film Deadheads.

By the brothers’ own admission, The

Wretched isn’t “art house” horror. Rather,

it’s a fun, old-fashioned creature feature

that falls squarely within the tradition of

drive-in hits of yore.

“I think drive-ins are associated with

escapism and a good time,” says Brett.

“Cinemas are there for every type of film,

every type of genre, but I think drive-ins

specifically imply the popcorn movie that

68 August 2020


everybody can go see together and have a

good time.”

The Pierces do admit to one drawback

of the drive-in format: The audio, mixed

in 7.1 by sound designer Eliot Connors,

gets lost when it’s played over a standard

car stereo. But that’s just one downside

among many advantages, including

the ability of the directors—who have

watched the film multiple times at Los

Angeles–area drive-ins—to hear the

audience’s feedback in real time, just by

rolling down their windows.

“We love hearing random people react

to the movie,” says Drew, who adds that in

pre-Covid times, “usually we [would] go

hide out in the bathroom, because that’s

where people say what they really think of

[the movie].”

For IFC, The Wretched has allowed

the independent distributor to forge

relationships with drive-in owners that

Basch hopes will pay further dividends

down the line. “All the [drive-ins] we’re in

are new customers to IFC, and we had to

build those relationships,” he says, noting

that drive-ins typically don’t program new,

independent releases.

If nothing else, The Wretched’s sleeper

success proves that even in the bleakest of

times, audiences remain hungry for the

theatrical experience. “When the virus

started becoming more of an actuality, I

think there were a lot of questions as to

what the future would look like,” Basch

says. “The thought of grossing a million

dollars theatrically, that’s nothing I would

have ever been able to predict.”

Far left: The Wretched,

an IFC Films release.

Photo courtesy IFC Films

Left: The Galaxy Drive-

In Theater in Ennis, Texas

(top). Additional stills

from The Wretched, an

IFC Films release. Photos

courtesy IFC Films

August 2020

69


Theater HOMETOWN THEATERS

REMEMBERING OUR

HOMETOWN THEATERS

Movie theaters aren’t just places to watch movies—

they’re also places to form relationships, spend time with

family, or just escape from the world for a few hours.

They’re as much a part of our lives as they are a meeting

place in our communities. As theaters around the world

begin to reopen, the staff of Boxoffice Pro share

memories of their own hometown movie theaters.

Daniel Loría, Editorial Director

Cinemark 12 Plaza Boulevares

[Today: Cinemex Boulevares Querétaro]

Querétaro, Mexico

The first multiplex opened in my

hometown in 1996. There must have been

fewer than a handful of twin cinemas

operating in Querétaro before Cinemark

opened that multiplex: a brand-new

12-screen facility, one of their first outside

the United States.

That movie theater changed something

in the city. Back then, our soccer team

was either out of business or in the second

division, and there wasn’t much else to

do. And everything about that theater

was unique and innovative at the time,

from the lobby to the concessions stand

and auditoriums—it was the only cinema

in town that didn’t have intermissions.

I’d go with my friends midweek (2-for-1

admission) and with my family on the

weekend. Sometimes I’d end up seeing the

same movie twice in the same week.

The first movie I saw there was

Dracula: Dead and Loving It, starring

Leslie Nielsen. I also remember watching

That Thing You Do! with a friend who later

started his own band in middle school;

Jack, and thinking it was so bad that the

rest of the director’s movies probably

sucked, too; buying a commemorative

soda cup for Independence Day on

opening night; Mars Attacks, Mission:

Impossible, The Rock … I must have seen

“Every time I return the city

looks less familiar; I can’t

help but remember it the

way it was during our last

year living there.”

every studio title exported to Mexico

between the summers of ’96 and ’97 in that

theater. I’d ride my bike to the newsstand

near my house and buy the latest issues of

Cine Premiere and Cinemanía to find out

about the coming releases. My romance

with moviegoing began in that theater.

The multiplex opened around the

same time that Carrefour unveiled the

city’s first large-scale supermarket; I was

11 years old, and all of a sudden there were

foreign companies investing in Querétaro,

and introducing modern retail concepts.

The great novella Las batallas en el

desierto by José Emilio Pacheco touches

on the theme of a rapidly changing

Mexico and how modernization brings

a simultaneous sense of excitement

and nostalgic anxiety. We moved out of

Querétaro in the fall of 1997. Every time

I return the city looks less familiar; I

can’t help but remember it the way it was

during our last year living there.

Despite all the changes to the city, that

movie theater is still there. Cinemark sold

its Mexico locations to Cinemex back in

2012, and while the branding is different, a

lot of the structural details remain. When

my parents moved back to Querétaro, they

moved to a house six blocks from the

cinema. I still visit it, not to see a movie

but mostly to reassure myself it’s still there.

On a recent trip, a security guard spotted

me taking some pictures of the lobby and

sternly asked what I was doing. I couldn’t

come up with a succinct explanation.

70 August 2020


August 2020

71


Theater HOMETOWN THEATERS

Rebecca Pahle, Deputy Editor

Palace Stadium 12

and Movies at the Lake

Cornelius, North Carolina

The Movies @ Birkdale

[Today: Regal Birkdale & RPX]

Huntersville, North Carolina

For the last 12 years of my life, I’ve lived

in New York. It’s a city with no shortage

of movie theaters, even though they all

happen to be closed for the moment. When

the Covid crisis is over, I know that I—along

with many, many other people—will count

going to the movies among my very first

activities. I may not know what movies will

be playing whenever the marquees light

up again, but I’m already dreaming of the

concessions I’m going to get. The thought

of popcorn at the IFC Center, tater tots

and cheese at the Nitehawk, and a boozy

milkshake at Alamo Drafthouse’s Brooklyn

location is getting me through some tough

times. (Look, I never claimed “healthy” to

be among the attributes I look for in movie

theater concessions.)

Before I lived in New York, I grew up

in Charlotte, North Carolina—first the

city itself and then, from middle school

through college, in the town of Cornelius,

about 20 minutes north. My fondest

moviegoing memories from childhood are

tied to details of the theatrical experience.

At 7, feeling scandalized when my aunt

snuck Burger King Whoppers into the

theater when she took us to see Hook. At

8, getting to Aladdin so close to showtime

that my family and I had to sit in the front

row, but being so transfixed by the movie

that I didn’t even notice the crick in my

neck. Lining up for midnight screenings

of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings; the

excitement I felt in my stomach was very

real but not quite enough to keep me from

gobbling down handfuls of popcorn.

The theaters I went to were typical

suburban multiplexes of the closing years

of the 20th century. They didn’t have

premium large-format screens, recliners,

or dine-in menus. Looking back, they

weren’t particularly “special.” One of

them had a party room that I hardly saw

anyone use; another may have had a claw

machine. But they felt special to me. They

gave me a treat, a solace, a way to bond

with my family. They introduced me to my

love of movies and set me on the career

path I still travel today.

“When we lose theaters,

we don’t just lose bricks and

metal. We don’t just lose

movies. We lose memory,

spirit, and family. We lose

a second home.”

They are also, for the most part, closed.

The first theater that felt like it was truly

mine was called Movies at the Lake. It

opened its doors, and a shopping center

built up around it. Now that area is bustling

and built-up, but Movies at the Lake isn’t

there. It closed in 2004 and became a

Nascar store (hey, North Carolina).

Then there was Palace Stadium 12,

which, for a reason I was never quite able

to figure out, was decorated to look like an

Egyptian temple. It closed suddenly after

three years and stood abandoned for over

a decade until a church moved in. (They

did not keep the decorations.) Movies @

Birkdale—now Regal Birkdale & RPX—

opened when I was a junior in high school,

just in time for me to see Moulin Rouge

there four times. (Musical geeks circa the

early 2000s know what’s up.)

Traveling back home from New York

to see my family, I would make a point

of going back to Birkdale if I could.

Christmas afternoon, in particular, was

a designated movie time for the Pahle

household. But driving past Movies at

the Lake and the Palace always made me

sad. Their familiar façades said “movie

theater,” but they lacked the magic that

had made them so much more than mere

buildings. When we lose theaters, we don’t

just lose bricks and metal. We don’t just

lose movies. We lose memory, spirit, and

family. We lose a second home.

Shawn Robbins, Chief Analyst

Carmike Highland

[Today: AMC Classic Highland 12]

Cookeville, Tennessee

AMC Dine-In Thoroughbred 20

Franklin, Tennessee

My earliest days of moviegoing took place

at Carmike’s Highland in Cookeville,

Tennessee, which grew from four to 10

to 12 screens as I grew up. It’s the theater

my father took me to as a kid, and the

one my friends and I congregated at

regularly throughout high school and

college, creating the foundation for my

obsession with cinema. Having lived closer

to Nashville for over a decade now, I tend

to consider the AMC Thoroughbred in

Franklin my home base. My wife and I will

venture out to other Nashville-area venues,

like Regal’s Opry Mills location, to check

out its largest-in-the-area Imax screen or

meet family and friends, but I’ve seen more

films at the Thoroughbred than anywhere

72 August 2020


else. Their Dolby Cinema auditorium

provides one of the flat-out best theatrical

experiences in this part of the country.

Kevin Lally, Executive Editor

Clairidge Theatre

[Today: Bow Tie Clairidge Cinemas]

and the Wellmont Theatre

Montclair, New Jersey

Fox Theatre and Oritani Theatre

Hackensack, New Jersey

Growing up in Bergen County, New

Jersey, one of the most densely populated

counties in the nation, I never realized

how good I had it as a young moviegoer.

It was a short bus ride to New York City’s

Radio City Music Hall, the fabled art deco

entertainment showplace, where your ticket

often got you both a movie and a stage

show. (My first movie there: That Darn Cat!

starring Hayley Mills and Dean Jones.)

But Bergen County also had its own

wonderful movie palaces. In those days

of exclusive road show engagements that

could last for months, even a year, the

movie mecca was Montclair, New Jersey,

with its two huge movie palaces, the

Clairidge and the Wellmont, both opened

in 1922. It was in Montclair—a half-hour

drive from my hometown of Dumont—

that I saw the Oscar-winning musicals My

Fair Lady and The Sound of Music before

they finally branched out to more towns.

Today, the Wellmont is a live-performance

venue, and the Clairidge is a six-plex

operated by Bow Tie Cinemas.

The next tier down in my area of Bergen

County was Hackensack. That town with

the odd name boasted not one but two

bona fide movie palaces, the Fox and the

Oritani, right across from each other on

Main Street. Named for a local Indian

chief, the Oritani opened on May 6, 1926,

with a double bill of Lady Windermere’s

Fan and Nobody’s Business, according to

the invaluable website Cinema Treasures.

Five years later, the art deco Fox debuted

with Jackie Coogan in Huckleberry Finn.

The Fox held more than 2,200 seats, the

Oritani 1,800, and both were beautiful,

ornate temples from a bygone age. I saw

many movies there—the most indelible is

watching Stanley Kramer’s all-star comedy

extravaganza It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad

World on the Oritani’s huge screen at age 11

and laughing so hysterically at the brutal

fire escape climax my parents almost took

me out of the theater.

“I never realized how good I

had it as a young moviegoer.

It was a short bus ride to New

York City’s Radio City Music

Hall, the fabled art deco

entertainment showplace,

where your ticket often got

you both a movie and a

stage show.”

Sadly, these two New Jersey gems are no

more. According to Cinema Treasures, the

Fox’s last first-run film was Jaws 2 in 1980,

and it was torn down in 1998. The Oritani’s

auditorium was demolished in 1985.

My hometown, Dumont, did not

have its own movie theater. The closest

was in neighboring Bergenfield: the

Palace, which seemed an inapt name

after enjoying the wonders of the Fox and

the Oritani. There I saw many a Disney

cartoon and live-action comedy. In

retrospect, the onetime Spanish Baroque

vaudeville house probably was a palace

by current standards; today it’s a fivescreen

theater, formerly owned by Bow Tie

Cinemas and now independently operated.

Jesse Rifkin, Analyst

AMC Georgetown 14

Washington, D.C.

I perform every Friday and Saturday night

at a piano bar in the Georgetown area

of Washington, D.C. Only a few hundred

feet away is the AMC Georgetown, where

I attend a movie almost every Friday or

Saturday night, two or three hours before

my gig. Since it’s located in one of the

nicer areas of the nation’s capital, there’s

always the possibility of running into a

major political figure. There was always

a small but possible chance I might run

into Dick Cheney when I saw Vice there, or

Ruth Bader Ginsburg when I saw On the

Basis of Sex. I mean, I didn’t. But there was

still the chance.

Chris Eggertsen, Analyst

Century 8

[Today: Cinemark Century Cinema 16]

Mountain View, California

I grew up in Ventura, California, about

an hour north of L.A. Many of my most

formative moviegoing experiences were

at the Century 8 (it would eventually

expand and be known as Century Cinema

16 under Cinemark), a pink palace of a

multiplex that has since shut down and

been taken over by a church (!). I worked

there over the summer between my junior

and senior years of high school and spent

many long nights scooping popcorn

into bags, pulling questionable items

out of cup holders, and being accosted

by customers who were livid over the

concession prices. Oh, what I wouldn’t do

to have those days back!

August 2020

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Filmmaker Interview 76 | Coming Attractions 88 | Long-Range Forecast 100 | Booking Guide 105

ON SCREEN

Photo credit: Dean Rogers. Courtesy Searchlight Pictures

“I’ve always been a huge Dickens fan. I reread the book

about 10 years ago, and I was struck by how absolutely

contemporary it felt. It felt so modern.”

The Personal History of David Copperfield, p. 82

August 2020

75


On Screen FILMMAKER INTERVIEW

THE SOUNDS

OF SILENCE

A Quiet Place Part II sound

editors speak up

BY JESSE RIFKIN

76 August 2020


At the end of the day, it’s about the

relationships you have.” Fandango’s vice

president of domestic ticketing, Melissa

Heller, says relationships are key to

every facet of what she does—her own

relationships with mentors and other

industry professionals in addition to the

relationships Fandango itself cultivates

with exhibitors, studios, and of course the

all-important moviegoer.

Heller grew up in a “tiny, tiny town in

Northern California,” where the closest

theater—Coast Cinemas in Fort Bragg, still

in operation—was an hour away. From

the beginning, going to the movies was “a

big deal. … When we got the opportunity

to do it, it was one of those life-changing

miracle moments.” (An early moviegoing

experience that’s stuck with Heller: going

to the Coast with her best friend to see

Babe.) “Sharing those movie moments

with my best friend, enjoying candy, and

feeling like we were there on that farm

with a talking pig … does life get any better

than that?” No, it does not.

While Heller has always known the

magic of moviegoing, she “stumbled

into” the job of providing that magic for

other people. In college, Heller studied

business and economics, which took her

to a job at Quantum Loyalty Solutions. A

“rewards and incentives firm,” Quantum

Loyalty Solutions partnered with studios,

exhibitors, and outside companies to

offer “Hollywood Movie Money” to

consumers. Fandango, looking to beef up

its own promotions operations, acquired

Quantum in 2015, rebranding the service

as Fandango Rewards. “At the time, there

was an ask to relocate to Los Angeles

and join the core exhibitor relations and

ticketing commerce team,” recalls Heller.

“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. It was

a personal and professional challenge—

an opportunity to grow and learn from

incredible people. So, despite my fears of

L.A. traffic, I decided to move. And [now]

I’m here to stay.”

One of those “incredible people”

Heller learned from was Fandango’s

chief commercial officer and executive

vice president Kevin Shepela. “Since the

day I started at Fandango, Kevin always

challenged me to think more broadly,

to look at strategy and align decisions

accordingly, to ask questions, to think

bigger. He supported me doubling down

and getting my MBA along the way, no

matter what it took. All in support of me as

a person first, and an employee second.”

While Heller has benefited from

structured mentorship programs, she cites

informal mentorship as the thing that’s

helped her professional growth the most.

“It’s just seeing how people work with each

other: ‘Oh, wow, that’s how she responded

to a really hard question. That’s what I

want to do the next time I’m in a position

like that.’ Or: ‘That was a really unique way

to tackle that problem.’ Just really being

able to learn, and not sit at your desk with

your headphones on, answering emails. It’s

really about absorbing the people around

you. Inside [Fandango], outside, all over the

industry. It’s actively listening and figuring

out what your style is, not mimicking

someone else.”

One of these informal mentors was

Heller’s mother, who, as a co-owner of

a construction company, “excelled in a

heavily male-dominated industry, keeping

her focus on creating houses that became

homes and meeting every challenge along

the way. She is an advocate for women in

her industry, and it is empowering to see

her help showcase others. She showed me

how a rising tide lifts all boats.” Fandango

embodies that spirit, Heller explains,

through their chapter of TechWomen, an

initiative geared toward supporting the

next generation of women working in

STEM (science, technology, engineering,

and mathematics) fields. Fandango’s

TechWomen chapter, founded by director

of project management Shanit DeLuca

and director of software engineering Rema

Morgan-Aluko, provides professional

development for the women of Fandango.

“It is exhilarating to see progress on this

level. I’m hopeful for the future.”

As for what the future holds for digital

ticketing in general, it’s hard to say, if not

impossible, and “that’s the fun challenge”

for Heller. The growth of digital ticketing

has been both massive and relatively

rapid; Heller recalls that the year she

joined Quantum Loyalty Solutions, 2007,

was the year the first iPhone came out.

August 2020

77


On Screen FILMMAKER INTERVIEW

Behind Simon and Garfunkel, the

second most famous duo associated

with “the sounds of silence” may be Erik

Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn. The sound

editors sculpted the auditory environment

of 2018’s breakout horror-drama A Quiet

Place, about a family of four attempting to

silently survive a world overrun by blind

predatory creatures with acute hearing.

The pair earned an Academy Award

nomination for Best Sound Editing for

their work.

The duo returns for director John

Krasinski’s sequel, A Quiet Place Part II.

A Quiet Place, more than perhaps any

other film in recent memory, elicited

nearly total silence in the theater.

Moviegoers wouldn’t so much as

open their soda bottles. Did you keep

that in mind when doing the sound

design?

Ethan Van der Ryn: It was a question in

our minds the whole time, when we were

mixing and designing the sound during

the original: Would people be able to stay

quiet enough for the film to actually work?

If people are making too much sound,

they’re going to obliterate the story and

the experience, which requires people to

be completely silent. It was an experiment,

in a way, whether or not that could work.

Fortunately, it did.

Erik Aadahl: Our goal was really to make

the audience an active participant in the

movie, putting the audience in the shoes

of the character. When Emily Blunt’s

character, Evelyn, is holding her breath,

trying not to make a noise, ideally we’d

have the audience do the exact same thing.

We didn’t really know if the whole thing

would work until we premiered it at South

by Southwest. A packed auditorium and

the audience just went with it. They were

holding their breath until the very end.

It was such a vindication for this crazy

experiment.

What was similar or different about

working on the sequel versus the

original?

Van der Ryn: In the first one, we were

setting up this whole universe where

creatures have taken control of the earth.

78 August 2020


Left: Evelyn (Emily

Blunt) and Marcus

(Noah Jupe) in A Quiet

Place Part II

All images:

Jonny Cournoyer,

© Paramount Pictures,

All Rights Reserved

Humanity has had to adapt to be able to

survive, by staying silent. We worked on

creating and setting up all the rules of this

whole universe. Obviously, with this one,

because it’s a direct continuation of the

story, we have this established set of rules

in which to start playing. We don’t have

to start from the ground up to create the

universe. It’s been created, so we can just

take off from there.

Aadahl: The last film was so successful,

we feel like we caught lightning in a bottle.

So the challenge is how do we top it? How

do we take it even further? Not just repeat

ourselves, but create a new experience

that’s going to be even more effective. That

was the challenge for everybody involved

with the film, not just for us in sound

design, but [director] John [Krasinski] and

the incredible cast.

So how did you try to top it?

Aadahl: If the first film was more

intimate, this film definitely expands

beyond the borders of the farm and the

homestead. We’re exploring the world a

little bit more. [The trailer opens with the

family speeding down a street as dozens

around flee on foot, already showing

more people in one scene than the first

film did in total.] The first film opens a

certain time after the invasion, but in this

[film] we get a glimpse of day one. That

was pretty fun to work on. Our challenge

as a sound designer is, how do we expand

upon the vocabulary and behavior of these

creatures, go deeper with it? There were

a lot more moments where we could play

with that tension.

What was the hardest individual

sound to create?

Van der Ryn: With the first film, we

had to invent the creature sounds from

scratch—something nobody had ever

heard before, reverse engineering their

biology. Knowing that they use sound to

navigate the world, that they’re blind, we

developed their palette of sound based on

other living creatures that have a similar

use of sound to navigate the world. For

example, animals with echolocation or

sonar. It was quite an experiment, going

through and trying things, playing with

sounds of dolphins and whales and

bats. All of them use a similar clicking

to reflect objects in their environment,

so through sound they can paint a

three-dimensional map. Eventually, we

stumbled upon a stun gun, which had

this really creepy alien feel. It was an

electric Taser, essentially, that became

the spine of our echolocation sound.

“When Emily Blunt’s

character, Evelyn, is holding

her breath, trying not to

make a noise, ideally we’d

have the audience do the

exact same thing.”

August 2020

79


On Screen FILMMAKER INTERVIEW

Above: Regan

(Millicent Simmonds),

Marcus (Noah Jupe),

and Evelyn (Emily

Blunt) brave the

unknown in A Quiet

Place Part II

Right: Director John

Krasinski, Noah Jupe,

and Emily Blunt on

the set of Paramount

Pictures’ A Quiet Place

Part II

“One of the unique things

we experienced with the

first A Quiet Place was that

it really brought back the

idea of cinemagoing as a

communal experience.”

Van der Ryn: We were playing around

with this stun gun, trying to use it on

different props that we had lying around

our studio. There were some grapes sitting

on a table in the kitchen. We tried it

against the grapes and got the best sound.

Grapes have a thin skin and fleshy interior,

similar to humans. So that ended up being

what we used. We just stumbled into that

by accident. That’s why this is a great job!

Play is required.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve

ever done to create a sound in a

movie?

Aadahl: I was working with Ethan on

the first Transformers. We’d had a late

night and I pulled into my driveway at

home. I stepped out of the car and a

garden hose was lying out. I stepped on it

in such a way that the liquid in the hose

made a gurgly sound. It almost sounded

like a creature. I grabbed the garden

hose, pulled it inside into the bathtub,

started recording it, and those became

the splatty vocals for Bumblebee in all

the Transformers movies. If your ears are

open, magic can happen.

How did the sound team work

with Marco Beltrami on the score?

[Beltrami, who also scored the first

film, is a two-time Academy Award

nominee for The Hurt Locker and the

3:10 to Yuma remake.]

Van der Ryn: We love working with

Marco. He just has such a big-picture,

holistic sense of the film. He’s very

gracious with not just where to play music,

but where not to play music, so we can

get really, really quiet, make the audience

lean in and hold their breath. He’s doing

a gorgeous job expanding on the musical

themes of the first film.

There’s a beautiful scene in the first

film where Lee and Evelyn slow dance

to the song Harvest Moon by Neil

Young, listening through earbuds

so they won’t attract the creatures.

Whose decision was that—yours, the

music supervisor’s, Krasinski’s?

Van der Ryn: That’s John Krasinski, all

the way. He wrote that into the script,

specifically to be that song. He talked

about it a little bit with us. The song was

80 August 2020


expensive, but it was important to him

that it be that song specifically. It was

worth securing the rights to use it and

paying the money. For a lower-budget film

to spend that kind of money on one song

was obviously a pretty big deal.

Aadahl: That song has special

significance for him and his wife, Emily.

That’s a scene that’s based on their reallife

relationship.

Between the two of you, you’ve

won or been nominated for multiple

awards, including the Oscars. [The

pair has been nominated jointly for

Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Argo,

and the first A Quiet Place]. What’s

your best awards show story?

Van der Ryn: My favorite awards

experience was at the BAFTA Awards

[in Britain]. I took my mom. As we were

walking to the ball afterwards, all the

photographers there started calling out,

“Dame Judi! Dame Judi!” They thought

my mom was Dame Judi Dench. So she

started posing!

Aadahl: Before the Oscars, there’s

the nominees’ luncheon. As my date, I

brought my godmother. She lives in

Washington state; she has nothing to do

with Hollywood. We were standing next

to Glenn Close, who’s her favorite actress

of all time. She was just freaking out on

me. “Can I take a picture?” It was fun to

experience it through her eyes.

Why is it important to see A Quiet

Place Part II in a cinema?

Van der Ryn: One of the unique things

we experienced with the first A Quiet Place

was that it really brought back the idea of

cinemagoing as a communal experience.

It became such an interactive experience,

where audiences were required to be

completely silent in order for the movie to

work. Hundreds of people were gathered

together in this temple of cinema, being

hushed, not talking. That’s such a special

experience to have in this age of streaming.

Aadahl: We got a lot of feedback after

the first film, people mentioning that

after they saw it in a theater, after the

end credits, they heard the world in a

completely new way. The sounds of traffic,

the city. They were almost overwhelmed

with the reality of sound in the world after

having gone through this experience of

A Quiet Place. I think it would be a very

different experience to watch it on Bluray

in your home, when there might be a

washing machine going.

AT THE MOVIES

With Erik Aadahl and

Ethan Van der Ryn

What is your all-time favorite moviegoing

memory or experience?

Aadahl: I grew up in the Bay Area. My

parents took me to my very first movie when

I was about 5 or 6 years old. It was E.T. on

a big, beautiful 70-millimeter screen. That

was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. I

still remember that feeling of “Whoa!” This

big theater, that giant screen. The movie

moved me so much. I was crying when E.T.

was dying. My parents were concerned that

maybe they should take me out of there,

but I refused. “No, I have to stay and see this

film!” It really had a profound and powerful

effect on me. It’s probably one of the reasons

I fell in love with cinema and went into it.

Van der Ryn: It was the [1971] Nicolas Roeg

movie Walkabout, which I saw when I was

probably about 7 years old. It just really

engaged me in a way that I had never

experienced before, in any other form. It

took me on this incredible journey that

involved these two kids, an older sister and

her younger brother, who was probably

about 7, so I could relate completely to him.

They’re on this journey across the Australian

outback. For most of the movie, there’s

no talking. It’s a completely cinematic

experience that you can’t have in any other

way, where you’re taken on this journey of

sight and sound.

What’s your favorite snack at the movie

theater concession stand?

Aadahl: I’m a popcorn guy. Lightly buttered

and lightly salted.

Van der Ryn: Of course, in a movie like A

Quiet Place Part II, you have to be careful

with the crunching, or the audience might

turn on you.

Aadahl: Junior Mints might work better.

Van der Ryn: Or gummy bears.

Something soft.

August 2020

81


ON SCREEN FILMMAKER INTERVIEW

WHAT

THE

DICKENS!

The Personal History of David

Copperfield heads to the cinemas

BY REBECCA PAHLE

Director Armando Iannucci returns to the big

screen, following 2017’s The Death of Stalin

and 2009’s Oscar-nominated In the Loop, with The

Personal History of David Copperfield. The Charles

Dickens adaptation—which tells the tale of a young

man (Dev Patel) suffering through numerous changes

in fortune in 19th-century England—had its debut at

the Toronto International Film Festival in September

2019. A U.K. release came in January 2020, and a

North American bow was scheduled for May. And

then … we don’t need to tell you what happened.

Luckily for fans of witty, colorful costume dramas,

The Personal History of David Copperfield is still

heading to theaters—this time on August 14, courtesy

of Searchlight Pictures. In advance of the film’s foray

into newly opened cinemas, Iannucci took the time to

speak to Boxoffice Pro.

The following conversation was conducted on

June 26. It has been edited for length and clarity.

Right: Dev Patel stars

in The Personal History

of David Copperfield.

Image courtesy

Searchlight Pictures

82 August 2020


August 2020

83


ON SCREEN FILMMAKER INTERVIEW

Before we start, I have to thank

you. The Personal History of David

Copperfield was the last film I saw

on the big screen before everything

stopped.

Before the end times.

Yes! It was a really good note to end

on. Since then, some films have been

going straight to VOD instead of

theaters—was that ever a possibility

for David Copperfield?

Well, we talked about it. The fundamental

issue was that no one knew what was

going to happen. Obviously, everyone’s

concerned. Uppermost, really, was safety.

The May release, perfectly understandably,

was deferred. And we just kept talking

about dates. I think everyone knew that

I, particularly, didn’t want to go into

theaters when it still felt too raw and

too fresh. The August date stands at the

moment, but if things change—film isn’t

as important as stopping this pandemic

and making sure everyone is safe. I’m

pleased that we’ve got a date. But I know

that everyone’s going to keep reviewing it

and making sure that it’s all safe.

Avenue 5, your sci-fi comedy

television series [in which a group of

tourists are stranded on a spaceship],

finished its first season on HBO in

March. What else have you been up

to during quarantine?

Fortunately, we’ve been writing season

two of Avenue 5. I miss the fun of having

everyone in the room and bouncing

ideas off each other. We’ve had to do that

remotely, and it sort of works, but it just

feels a bit odd. Avenue 5 is about lots of

people trapped in a situation they can’t

get out of, with no real leaders. So it’s a bit

painfully close to home. But I’m glad I’ve

had something to fill my days with, because

I sympathize with anyone who’s just been

stuck at home, unable to work. That sense

of lack of structure can be quite interesting

and useful for a week or so. But by the time

you get to week 11, 12, 13, 14, you really

want to get out and run about on a windy

hill with a kite [a favored activity of The

Personal History of David Copperfield’s Mr.

Dick, played by Avenue 5 star Hugh Laurie].

84 August 2020


“I’ve always been a

huge Dickens fan.

I reread the book

about 10 years ago,

and I was struck

by how absolutely

contemporary it felt.

It felt so modern.”

Left: Paul Whitehouse,

Daisy May Cooper,

Tilda Swinton, and

Hugh Laurie (and—

per the sign behind

them—absolutely

no donkeys). Image

courtesy Searchlight

Pictures

Right: Tilda Swinton

(top), Dev Patel,

Rosalind Eleazar, and

Hugh Laurie step into

the past. Photo Credit:

Dean Rogers. Courtesy

Searchlight Pictures

Speaking of the timeliness of Avenue

5, I saw David Copperfield twice:

once before everything shut down

and once well after. In the second

viewing, the issues of class conflict

that crop up throughout the story

had a bigger impact on me.

That’s why I wanted to make the film! I’ve

always been a huge Dickens fan. I reread

the book about 10 years ago, and I was

struck by how absolutely contemporary

it felt. It felt so modern. It also had, in Mr.

Dick, a really honest and open discussion

of mental illness and the burdens it brings.

And, yes, wealth and poverty existing side

by side in the street. And this kind of—I

suppose the modern expression would be

status anxiety, imposter syndrome, that

whole thing of, do I fit in? Do I belong?

Have I made the right friends? What do

they think of me? Have I made the right

life decisions? The whole book is about a

search for identity.

David goes from fortune to fortune

and household to household, being given

different names by people. He’s trying to

work out who he is. And it’s only when he

realizes he’s a writer, that he has to write

his memory and his experience down, that

[he realizes] who he is. So it’s a deeply

modern, contemporary book. That was

my gut feeling, turning it into a movie. I

didn’t want to do a modern version of it. I

wanted to set it very much in its time. But

I wanted people in the theater to feel that

at any point they could just stand up and

walk into it and feel a part of it, feel that

they connected with the people in the film.

August 2020

85


ON SCREEN FILMMAKER INTERVIEW

Right: Director

Armando Iannucci,

Peter Capaldi as the

wily Mr. Micawber

(center), and Dev Patel

in the title role. Image

courtesy Searchlight

Pictures

Below: Hugh Laurie as

Mr. Dick, pondering

kites and/or the

lopped-off head of

King Charles. Image

courtesy Searchlight

Pictures

Uriah Heep [a servant who takes

advantage of people on his way up

the social ladder] is an interesting

character. He does awful things, but

when he says he doesn’t want to bow

and scrape to people just because

he happens to have been born into a

different class—he’s not wrong.

Yes! And I think it’s right that you feel

a little sorry for him. At times, I think

David is a little bit unreasonably cruel

to him, in order to remain friends with

Steerforth [his upper-class friend, played

by Aneurin Barnard] and so on. And

that’s what I took from reading the

book. Dev and I and Ben [Whishaw, who

plays Uriah], we discussed that actually

[Uriah] is about the same age as David,

and they started off with roughly similar

circumstances. So it’s almost like he is

a mirror image of David. Or he’s what

David might have become if he had taken

a slightly different path or decided to

advance himself a different way. He’s

there as a kind of warning to David.

I’ve always been fascinated by heroes

and villains who are not a hundred

percent heroic or a hundred percent

villainous. That ambiguity, that sense of,

that could be me. The vulnerability in it.

I think that’s far more interesting than a

two-dimensional, “this is good and this

is bad.” That was very much a conscious

decision that we wanted to keep. I think it

becomes all the more unnerving because

of it. [Uriah’s behavior isn’t] a grotesque

caricature based on very base, animalistic

instinct. There’s a survival instinct that’s

gone a little bit the wrong way.

Watching the other characters be

cruel to him is really uncomfortable.

That’s what Dickens does in quite a few

of his books. The opening lines of this

film and the book are, “Whether I turn

out to be the hero of this story ...” There’s

a question mark. And Dickens is very

interested in making the hero vulnerable.

In Great Expectations, the hero becomes

the snob. He looks down on people

who have less money than him. Great

Expectations was a later novel, but you can

see that in David Copperfield.

The childhood scenes in Copperfield

are based very much on Dickens’s own

childhood. But he kept that quiet. He

didn’t tell people it was based on him,

because he was ashamed. That sense

of trying to hide from other people’s

opinions is all there. And therefore, we

wanted David to make jokes at the expense

of the people who’ve been looking after

him. To do impressions of Mr. Wickfield

[played by Benedict Wong] for the other

people in the school. None of us are

perfect, and all of us try and play to the

crowd in order to get approval.

Like you said, he has impostor

syndrome and he’s trying to fit in.

Dev and I spoke about it when I asked him

to be David. He talked about the fact that

he came from an immigrant Indian family,

but born in Britain. Similarly, I’m from

an Italian immigrant family, but born in

Britain. In the 19th century, whether you

are in or whether you are out is based on

wealth and money and class, whereas

86 August 2020


today, identity’s determined by a host

of other things as well. What job you do.

Ethnicity. All these questions.

Having a racially diverse cast helps

with modernizing the story without

straight-up making a modern version.

It wasn’t part of a deliberate—the only

person I could think of to play David

was Dev. As an actor, as a performer,

as a presence, he embodied David

Copperfield and all that I want to portray

about David: his optimism, his energy,

his sense of humor, the pathos. He’s in

every scene. He’s the heart of the film.

You have to do impressions. You have

to do slapstick. You have to do romance.

You have to do tragedy. You have to do

poverty. Everything. I could only think

of Dev. When Dev said yes, I was relieved,

because I didn’t have a plan B. But I also

thought, that’s how I must cast everyone.

Find the actor who best contains the

spirit of that character, irrespective of

what their background is or what acting

tradition they’re in. Because in fact,

when you analyze it, the whole film is

about community and friendship. It’s

about loving those who are your friends

and being friends with those that you

love. People of all sorts of different

backgrounds, caring for each other

because they’re part of a community.

You’ve done both film and TV.

How do you decide which medium

fits a particular project? Because,

obviously, there have been a ton of

limited-series adaptations of Dickens.

[David Copperfield is] actually such a

poetic, lyrical book—it’s a book about

language and imagination and memory

and how memory plays tricks on you and

[how] things that you remember, when

you revisit them, are actually different.

I felt this had to be a film, because I

had to have a sense of structure, and

you had to experience it as a life being

lived. And I think you can only do that in

one continuous viewing rather than in

episodic viewing.

And also, I want it to be in the cinemas.

It’s a big canvas, a big stage. It has so many

speaking parts and so many characters in

such a big, colorful world. To me, it always

felt like a film. It is also an 800-page book.

So the challenge was in coming up with

an adaptation that fulfills that criteria of

having a beginning, a middle, and an end.

And that kind of drive-through narrative,

a thematic development that really keeps

propelling you forward. So that was the

difficult part in terms of the script. And

that was about being true to the spirit

of the book, but not feeling absolutely

over-reverential about the plot. We’ve

changed the story lines of various people.

We’ve got rid of certain characters. We’ve

compressed certain characters into one.

This is a film that I want people to come

to feeling they don’t have to read the book.

They don’t need to know anything about

Dickens or the period or anything. I want

people to feel fully immersed in this film

from start to finish.

You’ve been passionate about the

need to help cultural institutions that

are in very real trouble right now.

I’m wondering how you feel about

the exhibition community in the U.K.,

specifically independent and art

house theaters.

One of the reasons I’m pleased that

we now have a date in the U.S. is—

Searchlight was telling me that a lot of

the independent theaters were very keen

to have the film as one of their first films

on reopening, because they need to get

people back in. The larger cinema chains,

I think, can cope temporarily with slightly

reduced numbers, but the art house

theaters need continuous custom.

In the U.K., it’s live theater, live music,

live-performance venues that I’m really

worried about, because they are going

to be the very, very last ones to open up.

For sound, scientific reasons. But for that

reason, they are the ones that are going to

need the support. Because if there’s one

thing people have really come to value

during this lockdown, it’s the arts. It’s you

streaming Netflix, it’s you downloading

a movie, it’s you reading a book. It’s that

sense of the creative output that we have

so long taken for granted. But it’s helped

get us through this, and it’s helped sustain

us mentally and emotionally. It would

be a terrible tragic end to the situation,

if when we all open up, the creative

industries have died around us. Because

they’re what helped get us through our

moments of isolation.

“It would be a terrible tragic

end to the situation, if when

we all open up, the creative

industries have died around

us. Because they’re what

helped get us through our

moments of isolation.”

August 2020

87


ON SCREEN COMING ATTRACTIONS

COMING

ATTRACTIONS

Following the pause caused by Covid-19,

studios and distributors have realigned

upcoming release dates through 2021

Release dates are accurate as of July 6. For the latest

schedule, visit www.boxofficepro.com/release-calendar.

TENET

August 12 / Warner Bros.

An action-epic evolving from the world of

international espionage.

Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson,

Elizabeth Debicki

Director: Christopher Nolan

Rating: PG-13 Running Time: TBD

Premium Formats: Imax

Melinda Sue Gordon. © 2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

88 August 2020


Linda Kallerus. © 2020 CTMG Inc. All Rights Reserved

THE BROKEN HEARTS GALLERY

August 07 / Sony

This film follows the always-unique Lucy, a

20-something art gallery assistant living in New

York City, who also happens to be an emotional

hoarder. After she gets dumped by her latest

boyfriend, Lucy is inspired to create the Broken

Hearts Gallery, a pop-up space for the items love

has left behind. Word of the gallery spreads,

encouraging a movement and a fresh start for all the

romantics out there, including Lucy herself.

Cast: Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery,

Utkarsh Ambudkar

Director: Natalie Krinsky

Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 108 Min.

THE BURNT ORANGE

HERESY

August 07 / Sony Pictures Classics

Jose Haro. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

Art critic James Figueras has fallen from

grace, spending his days in Milan lecturing

witless tourists about art history. An

opportunity strikes when a wealthy art

dealer asks him to steal a painting from a

legendary reclusive artist. Soon, James’s

greed and ambition get the better of him,

and he finds himself caught in a web of his

own making.

Cast: Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland,

Claes Bang

Director: Giuseppe Capotondi

Rating: R Running Time: 98 Min.

August 2020

89


ON SCREEN COMING ATTRACTIONS

THE PERSONAL HISTORY

OF DAVID COPPERFIELD

August 14 / Searchlight Pictures

From birth to infancy, from adolescence to adulthood,

the good-hearted David Copperfield is surrounded

by kindness, wickedness, poverty, and wealth, as he

meets an array of remarkable characters in Victorian

England. As David sets out to be a writer, in his quest

for family, friendship, romance, and status, the story

of his life is the most seductive tale of all.

Cast: Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw

Director: Armando Iannucci

Rating: PG Running Time: 116 Min.

Image courtesy Searchlight Pictures

GREENLAND

August 14 / STX Entertainment

A family fights for survival as a planet-killing comet

races to Earth. John Garrity, his estranged wife Allison,

and young son Nathan make a perilous journey to their

only hope for sanctuary. Amid the terrifying events,

the Garritys experience the best and worst in humanity

while they battle the increasing panic and lawlessness

surrounding them.

Cast: Morena Baccarin, Gerard Butler, David Denman

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Rating: PG-13 Running Time: TBD

Image courtesy STX Films

FATIMA

August 14 / Picturehouse

A drama about the power of faith, Fatima tells the

story of a 10-year-old shepherd and her two young

cousins in Fátima, Portugal, who report seeing visions

of the Virgin Mary. Their revelations inspire believers

but anger officials of both the Church and the secular

government, who try to force them to recant their

story. As word of their prophecy spreads, tens of

thousands of religious pilgrims flock to the site in

hopes of witnessing a miracle.

Cast: Joaquim de Almeida, Goran Višnjić, Stephanie Gil, Lúcia

Moniz, Sônia Braga, Harvey Keitel

Director: Marco Pontecorvo

Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 113 Min.

Claudio Iannone. © 2020 Picturehouse

90 August 2020


ANTEBELLUM

August 21 / Lionsgate

Successful author Veronica Henley finds herself

trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the

mind-bending mystery before it’s too late.

Cast: Janelle Monáe, Eric Lange, Jena Malone

Directors: Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz

Rating: TBD Running Time: 105 Min.

MULAN

August 21 / Disney

A fearless young woman risks everything for

her family and her country to become one of

the greatest warriors China has ever known.

When the emperor of China issues a decree

that one man per family must serve in the

imperial army to defend the country from

northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest

daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to

take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading

as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every

step of the way and must harness her inner

strength and embrace her true potential.

Cast: Liu Yifei, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee

Director: Niki Caro

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 115 Min.

Image courtesy Walt Disney Studios

Matt Kennedy. Courtesy Lionsgate

August 2020

91


ON SCREEN COMING ATTRACTIONS

BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC

August 28 / United Artists Releasing

Yet to fulfill their rock-and-roll destiny, the now

middle-aged best friends set out on a new adventure

when a visitor from the future warns them that only

their song can save life as we know it. Along the way,

they will be helped by their daughters, a new batch of

historical figures, and a few music legends to seek the

song that will set their world right and bring harmony

in the universe.

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Samara Weaving

Director: Dean Parisot

Rating: TBD Running Time: TBD

Patti Perret. Courtesy Orion Pictures

THE NEW MUTANTS

August 28 / 20th Century Studios

An original horror-thriller set in an isolated hospital

where a group of young mutants is being held for

psychiatric monitoring. When strange occurrences

begin to take place, both their new mutant abilities

and their friendships will be tested as they battle to

try and make it out alive.

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton

Director: Josh Boone

Rating: PG-13 Running Time: TBD

Image courtesy 20th Century Studios

A QUIET PLACE PART II

September 4 / Paramount Pictures

Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott

family must now face the terrors of the outside world

as they continue their fight for survival in silence.

Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly

realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not

the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.

Cast: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds

Director: John Krasinski

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 97 Min.

Premium Formats: Imax

Jonny Cournoyer. © Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

92 August 2020


THE KING’S MAN

September 18 / 20th Century Studios

As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and

criminal masterminds gathers to plot a war to

wipe out millions, one man must race against

time to stop them. Discover the origins of the

very first independent intelligence agency.

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Rating: TBD Running Time: TBD

Premium Formats: Imax

Peter Mountain. Courtesy 20th Century Studios

August 2020 93


ON SCREEN COMING ATTRACTIONS

WONDER WOMAN 1984

October 2 / Warner Bros.

Fast forward to the 1980s as Wonder Woman’s next

big-screen adventure finds her facing an all-new foe:

The Cheetah.

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig

Director: Patty Jenkins

Rating: TBD Running Time: TBD

Premium Formats: Imax/3D

Clay Enos. © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

THE FRENCH DISPATCH

October 16 / Searchlight Pictures

The French Dispatch brings to life a collection of

stories from the final issue of an American magazine

published in a fictional 20th-century French city.

Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Cecile de France

Director: Wes Anderson

Rating: R Running Time: 108 Min.

Image courtesy Searchlight Pictures

MONSTER HUNTER

April 23, 2021 / Sony Pictures / Screen Gems

Behind our world, there is another: a world of dangerous

and powerful monsters that rule their domain

with deadly ferocity. When Lt. Artemis and her loyal

soldiers are transported from our world to the new

world, the unflappable lieutenant receives the shock

of her life. In her desperate battle for survival against

enemies with incredible powers and unstoppable,

terrifying attacks, Artemis will team up with a mysterious

man who has found a way to fight back.

Cast: Mila Jovovich, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Rating: PG-13 Running Time: TBD

Coco Van Oppens Photography. © CONSTANTIN FILM Produktion Services GmbH

94 August 2020


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August 2020

95


On Screen EVENT CINEMA

THE MAIN

EVENT

Event cinema responds to the

Covid-19 programming gaps

BY REBECCA PAHLE

With cinemas beginning to open

up worldwide, content is on

everyone’s mind. Whether they’re

screening repertory titles or independent

films on the drive-in circuit, theaters

have had to think differently about their

approach to programming—and that’s

unlikely to change over the coming

weeks, even as new releases from major

studios plan to boost cinemas with new

blockbuster hopefuls.

Event cinema has long given exhibitors

the ability to diversify their content

offerings, to program screenings of

opera, theater, concerts, special-interest

documentaries, and more in between

typical first-run content. Even as

big-budget Hollywood films return to

theaters—albeit with still-shifting release

dates—event cinema could prove to be

a valuable tool for exhibitors looking to

draw sofa-bound moviegoers back into the

theater with the promise of something new.

Still, the world of event cinema has

experienced its own setbacks caused

by the Covid-19 pandemic. With much

uncertainty still in the air about how

the exhibition landscape will look in the

coming months, Boxoffice Pro spoke

with a number of event cinema experts

about the possibilities and limitations

they currently face.

Event cinema providers, like other

distributors, were left with a slate full

of programming and nowhere to put it

once it became clear that the exhibition

landscape was likely to undergo a neartotal

shutdown. As a result, many of these

providers have shuffled programming

96 August 2020


intended for the first half of 2020 down

the calendar, where they could end up

being a lucrative draw for moviegoers

unable to attend spectator sports or live

performance.

Large live concerts, for example, are a

no-go for now. Says Bernadette McCabe,

executive vice president of CineLife

Entertainment, which has its Artists Den

concert series still in the works: “With

something like a concert, there won’t be

bands touring this summer. So that will be

an interesting opportunity for a consumer

to see that in a movie theater versus in an

arena.” McCabe cites CineLife’s screenings

of Comédie-Française as a substitute for

live theater, which “isn’t really available

right now. So if somebody would like to

see beautiful, high-quality productions

from the French stage, they could go to a

local movie theater and see something.”

A mix of CineLife’s already-released

content and programming, which would

have hit theaters in the first half of 2020

including Rigoletto on the Lake, Celebrating

the Sopranos, and a selection of four LGBT

repertory titles originally scheduled for

Pride Month—will now come out later

in the year. All upcoming content, says

McCabe, will be available for exhibitors to

book over a larger-than-normal window of

time—as much as 10 weeks, depending on

the title—in recognition of exhibitors’ need

for flexibility as they gradually resume

typical operations.

Fathom Events is bringing some

of its older content back to theaters in

North America, where the distributor’s

“welcome back” programming has been

designed to fill a 30-day window. Says

head of marketing Letha Steffey, “We have

some faith-based-type films for Mondays;

Tuesday, anime; Wednesday, classic films;

Thursday, girls’ night out. We’ve built this

welcome back program to support the

exhibitors when they do open up, whether

they have five theaters—as we heard from

Cinemark for that week starting June

19—or 500 theaters. This welcome back

program is really built for flexibility, such

that they can choose the titles that they

want to play and the times of day.”

That flexibility is especially vital

given what’s sure to be an inconsistent,

country-by-country global reopening and

the unpredictability of a potential second

wave of shutdowns. In South Korea, for

example, the cinema industry has not

had the total, prolonged shutdown faced

by much of the rest of the world. At the

same time, box office plummeted during

the spring months due in part to a lack

of content. In April and May, Trafalgar

Releasing brought three 2019 releases—

The King and I: From the London

Palladium, Josh Groban’s Bridges from

Madison Square Garden, and Metallica:

S&M²—to theaters in Korea, where

they had never before been released.

While the films perhaps didn’t do as

well as they would have under “normal

circumstances,” says Trafalgar CEO Marc

Allenby, all three films “attracted an

audience. They weren’t eye-watering. But

I think in the case of Metallica, it was the

largest event film in Korea that month,

and both Josh Groban and the King and I

still performed well.”

Left: Metallica: S&M 2 ,

image courtesy

Trafalgar Releasing

Right: Celebrating

the Sopranos, photo

courtesy CineLife

Entertainment

August 2020

97


On Screen EVENT CINEMA

In effect, the challenge

event cinema faces

here is the same

challenge faced by the

wider film industry—a

lack of new content

ready to go into

socially distanced

production.

At the same time, the shifting landscape

of global exhibition will likely lead to

some changes down the line for event

cinema distribution, says Allenby. Event

cinema is largely based on the concept of

appointment viewing—selling a film as a

one-time-only event, released at the same

time globally (where possible, taking things

like local holidays and regulations into

account), with no guarantee that it will

ever hit theaters again. Moving forward,

there will have to be “greater elasticity”

if countries go into a second lockdown,

Allenby says. “From my perspective, we

spent the last 10 years building up the

global event model where [on] one night,

same time, local time zone adjusted, an

event happens and everybody’s unified.

I think whilst that approach still stands,

we’re going to have to accept there’s going

to be variance. At short notice, countries

may well be having to opt out of releases or

postpone releases. And so we will need to

have more flex in the model.”

Fathom Events is embracing change

in its own way, by using the period of

the shutdown to reevaluate its preshow

strategy as a whole, developing

content designed to contribute to

patrons’ theatrical experience “from the

moment that they sit in the theater chair.”

Fathom’s Steffey continues, “Across

the board, we’ve been really diving

into things that perhaps prior to this

pandemic [we] really hadn’t had the time

[to focus on]. … This is a chance for us

to take a step back and then determine,

how can we really look at optimizing our

core business and our go-to-market?” In

addition to its pre-show, Fathom has also

begun conducting its own research into

consumer preferences and launched a

redesigned mobile site.

CineLife, Trafalgar, and Fathom all

plan to make announcements in the

coming weeks as to what will be on their

slates for the back half of 2020. But in

the longer term, a challenge looms: the

struggle to create new content, as many

of the live cultural events that make up

so much of the event cinema landscape

are on hold. The Metropolitan Opera, for

example, has canceled its fall season, and

it’s hard to imagine the gigantic concerts

from K-pop band BTS, which have proven

so profitable for event cinema, taking

place any time soon.

In effect, the challenge event cinema

faces here is the same challenge faced by

the wider film industry—a lack of new

content ready to go into socially distanced

production. “Certainly,” notes McCabe,

“acquiring content over the next 12 months

is going to be a different landscape than it

was six months ago.”

Here, Allenby believes that event

cinema distributors are better positioned

than typical studios because “the risk

is slightly more contained.” Event

cinema’s demand-through-scarcity

model—reaching out to fans of a niche

subject, rather than one with more general

appeal—means that fewer ticket sales are

needed in order to be deemed successful.

And, with its smaller marketing budgets

and quick turnaround time, event cinema

is more nimble than its traditional

counterparts; new product, whatever

it is and whenever it takes place, can

conceivably find itself in theaters in a

matter of weeks after completion.

As for what that content will be—it

doesn’t appear that anyone, at this point,

is trying to reinvent the wheel. The types

of event cinema releases will be much the

same as they were before, but distributors

will be looking at unique ways to work

with exhibitors to get them to the public—

whether that’s increased flexibility in

scheduling or a new pre-show.

To help fill a gap in content, Trafalgar is

looking into staging theatrical productions

in the U.K. in mostly empty theaters,

“without an audience or with a socially

distanced audience, essentially primarily

for cinema and potential downstream postcinema.

… If you haven’t got a full paying

audience in there, there probably is enough

flexibility with the right planning to put

shows on and capture them,” says Allenby.

The worlds of event cinema and musical

theater alike, he notes, are “looking at

creative solutions to how we can continue

some level of business during this period,”

keeping the two industries “bubbling away,

at least, whilst things normalize. I’m not

trying to be overly or blindly optimistic, but

I do think there are still great opportunities

out there.”

Above: Ghost, part of

Fathom Events’ TCM Big

Screen Classics series

for 2020. Image courtesy

Fathom Events

98 August 2020


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99


On Screen LONG-RANGE FORECAST

TENTATIVELY

TENET

Forecasting future box office when

no existing models apply

BY SHAWN ROBBINS

100 August 2020


Photo Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon. 2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Image courtesy Walt Disney Studios

Left: John David

Washington (left) and

Robert Pattinson in

Warner Bros. Pictures’

action epic Tenet

Right: Liu Yifei as

the title character

in Disney's liveaction

Mulan

After shifting from its original July 17

release in North America to a planned

July 31 opening, Christopher Nolan’s

Tenet—the film unofficially recognized as

the first major studio title in the return to

cinemas—is now scheduled for an August

12 rollout. The move resulted in a cascade

of other changes, notably Disney’s Mulan

being pushed to an August 21 release.

Due to the nature of the world we live in

right now, and the needs of our magazine’s

publishing schedule, there’s no guarantee

of that specific news remaining relevant or

accurate by the time you read this. This is

the current, however temporary, reality of

the global movie market. Forecasting, of

course, includes expecting the unexpected.

Even under normal circumstances in

ordinary times, studios shuffle release

dates and announce new titles. We’re

simply accustomed to those changes

occurring months and years in advance—

not weeks.

As of the end of June, the earliest

theater owners can expect new, high-profile

Hollywood product to arrive is the middle

of August. As of the end of June, also, new

Covid-19 outbreaks in different parts of the

United States are resulting in fresh concern

that the virus will continue to wreak havoc

on everyone’s plans for months to come.

Even after nearly a full half year’s worth

of consistent disruption, we’re still in the

middle of the fight and the ambiguity.

The good news is that reports from

several reliable outlets indicate that

multiple Covid-19 vaccine trials are

making progress and offering the world

some light at the end of this long tunnel.

They may not arrive until at least next

year, but that doesn’t mean theaters

can’t reopen safely before then, as other

industries have, by following the proper

health guidelines, nor does it mean there

aren’t a significant number of moviegoers

already eager to return and see new

films on the big screen, provided the

environments are safe in which to do so.

All of this is crucial context to keep

in mind when planning for the current

release schedule. The best case scenario

is that we’ll all be preparing to see Tenet

and Mulan in theaters this August. Or, by

the time you’re reading this, more delays

might have occurred. If the mid- to latesummer

fight against the virus doesn’t

improve significantly, and quickly, we

should prepare for these and other films

to be pushed further down the calendar all

over again. Possibly multiple times.

There is even an unfortunate, but realistic,

possibility that new releases and theatrical

reopenings may not occur on a large scale

until the fourth quarter of 2020 or later.

To reiterate, this is the current reality

of the global market. Nothing is assured

until it happens, and all scenarios must be

planned for. Even when reopenings do take

effect, we must continue to expect abnormal

consumer behaviors. Films will not be

performing in typical box office patterns;

instead they will likely trend toward longer

runs and post-release holds than we’ve seen

in many years—if not decades.

Granted, films like Tenet, Mulan,

Wonder Woman 1984, and A Quiet Place

Part II will still have their target young to

young adult audiences and fan bases to

August 2020

101


On Screen LONG-RANGE FORECAST

draw from on opening weekends. Those

demographics, built-in audiences, and

similar releases will be crucial in the

recovery process as we expect less frequent

moviegoers to wait out the early weeks

of theatrical reopenings and await word

of mouth, not just on the movies but on

the experience itself and how theaters are

enforcing social distancing and engaging

in other visible health-focused protocols.

As of the end of the second quarter,

2020’s domestic box office has registered

around $1.8 billion from current releases,

down approximately 68 percent from the

same point one year ago. That year-toyear

percentage decrease will likely reach

75 percent by the end of July’s reporting

period. For context, 2019 delivered

$11.35 billion overall, the second highest

domestic performance of all time—though

that is hardly a fair comparison given the

status quo in 2020.

Current models—those based on the

assumption that Tenet, Mulan, A Quiet

Place Part II, Wonder Woman 1984, and

the bulk of 2020’s remaining releases will

meet their tentative target dates—suggest

a wide range of outcomes for how the

year might end up. Four billion dollars

had been a reasonable target in early

summer, which would represent a 65

percent decline, but July will no longer

benefit from major new releases as once

expected. Still, a steady stream of major

titles in the final quarter of the year could

help alleviate the fact that summer movie

season is now a wash for this year.

November, in particular, has solid

potential. In a near best case scenario, AMC

and other chains are expecting to be able to

Photo Credit: Clay Enos. Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment

Frequent and infrequent

moviegoers alike will have

been stuck at home for

many months, emptying

their streaming queues and

itching to enjoy communal

experiences again.

Below: Gal Gadot as

Wonder Woman in

Warner Bros. Pictures’

action-adventure

Wonder Woman 1984

achieve 80 percent capacity by the time

films like Black Widow, No Time to Die, and

Soul are released. This, of course, assumes

the fight against Covid-19 doesn’t take any

more negative turns in the coming months.

In December, last year’s combination of

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Frozen II,

and Jumanji: The Next Level will be hard to

duplicate, but Top Gun: Maverick and Dune

(though the latter is certainly a candidate

to be delayed) should provide a strong

foundation alongside other releases.

If all this comes to pass, a target

domestic box office between $3 billion and

$4 billion for 2020 is achievable, but far

from guaranteed. Studios and exhibitors,

even upon reopening, will have to remain

flexible until such time as outbreaks are

under control and/or a vaccine is ready

for wide distribution. If the fight in the

coming months trends upward in a major

way, that benefit could be felt before

year’s end. If not, the recovery process will

almost certainly extend into 2021— a year

with a slate offering promise in some areas,

but weak spots in others, as many of the

titles that presented question marks for

2020 now reside on 2021’s calendar.

In short, the speculative challenge of

box office forecasting has never been as

complex as it is right now.

The good news, again, is that we

can expect the idea of moviegoing to

be reinvigorated with a fresh sense of

enthusiasm on the other side of this

pandemic. Frequent and infrequent

moviegoers alike will have been stuck at

home for many months, emptying their

streaming queues and itching to enjoy

communal experiences again. Absence

makes the heart grow fonder, after all.

The theatrical experience is naturally

one that can meet that desire, and the

unprecedented events of this year may

arguably result in inflated demand for

films of many varieties as the basic human

urge for escapism only intensifies.

When exactly that moment arrives

is beyond the calculation of any single

model at this time. Moviegoing habits

depend heavily on the sentiment of

patrons, something that is in flux every

day and variable by community, due to

the staggered and inconsistent response

to this virus. We’re all living, reacting, and

adapting to this temporary “new normal,”

and the operative word for our industry—

and passionate movie fans—right now is

just that: temporary.

102 August 2020


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ON SCREEN BOOKING GUIDE

BOOKING

GUIDE

Release calendar for theatrical

distribution in North America

Release dates are accurate as of 7/6. For the latest

schedule, visit www.boxofficepro.com/release-calendar

101 STUDIOS

THE WAR WITH GRANDPA

Fri, 9/18/20 WIDE

Stars: Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman

Director: Tim Hill

Rating: PG

Genre: Com/Fam

20TH CENTURY STUDIOS

310-369-1000

212-556-2400

EMPTY MAN

Fri, 8/7/20 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Cri/Dra/Hor

THE NEW MUTANTS

Fri, 8/28/20 WIDE

Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie

Williams

Director: Josh Boone

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Act/Hor/SF

Dolby Vis/Atmos

THE KING’S MAN

Fri, 9/18/20 WIDE

Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Gemma

Arterton

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

Specs: IMAX

DEATH ON THE NILE

Fri, 10/9/20 WIDE

Stars: Tom Bateman, Annette

Bening

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Rating: NR

Genre: Cri/Dra/Mys

DEEP WATER

Fri, 11/13/20 WIDE

Stars: Ana de Armas, Ben Affleck

Director: Adrian Lyne

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr

The King’s Man

Fri, 9/18/20 WIDE

FREE GUY

Fri, 12/11/20 WIDE

Stars: Ryan Reynolds

Director: Shawn Levy

Rating: NR

Genre: Com/Act

WEST SIDE STORY

Fri, 12/18/20 WIDE

Stars: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler

Director: Steven Spielberg

Rating: NR

Genre: Mus

THE LAST DUEL

Fri, 12/25/20 LTD

Stars: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck

Director: Ridley Scott

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra

EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT

JAMIE

Fri, 1/22/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra/Mus

BOB’S BURGERS

Fri, 4/9/21 LTD

Stars: H. Jon Benjamin, Kristen

Schaal

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

RON’S GONE WRONG

Fri, 4/23/21 LTD

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

UNTITLED 20TH CENTURY 2021

Fri, 8/13/21 LTD

Rating: NR

AMAZON STUDIOS

SOUND OF METAL

Fri, 8/14/20 LTD

Stars: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke

Director: Darius Marder

Rating: R

Genre: Dra

BLUE FOX ENTERTAINMENT

William Gruenberg

william@bluefoxentertainment.com

SAMSAM

Fri, 8/7/20 LTD

Stars: Isaac Lobé-Lebel, Lior

Chabbat

Director: Tanguy de Kermel

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

Photo Credit: Peter Mountain

August 2020

105


ON SCREEN BOOKING GUIDE

LAST NIGHT IN SOHO

Fri, 4/23/21 LTD

Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin

Harcourt McKenzie

Director: Edgar Wright

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor/Thr

Specs: Dolby Vis/Atmos

FREESTYLE RELEASING

310-277-3500

Ask for Distribution

2 HEARTS

Fri, 9/11/20 WIDE

Stars: Jacob Elordi, Adan Canto

Director: Lance Hool

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Rom/Dra

Black Widow

Fri, 11/6/20 WIDE

BLEECKER STREET

THE SECRETS WE KEEP

Wed, 9/16/20 LTD

Stars: Noomi Rapace, Joel

Kinnaman

Director: Yuval Adler

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra

DISNEY

818-560-1000

Ask for Distribution

BLACK WIDOW

Fri, 11/6/20 WIDE

Stars: Scarlett Johansson, David

Harbour

Director: Cate Shortland

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

Specs: 3D

SOUL

Fri, 11/20/20 WIDE

Stars: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey

Director: Pete Docter

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

Specs: 3D/Dolby Vis/Atmos

THE ETERNALS

Fri, 2/12/21 WIDE

Stars: Richard Madden, Angelina

Jolie

Director: Chloé Zhao

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv/SF

RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON

Fri, 3/12/21 WIDE

Stars: Awkwafina, Cassie Steele

Director: Paul Briggs, Dean Wellins

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

Specs: 3D

SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF

THE TEN RINGS

Fri, 5/7/21 WIDE

Stars: Simu Liu, Awkwafina

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv/Fan

CRUELLA

Fri, 5/28/21 WIDE

Stars: Emma Stone

Rating: NR

Genre: Com

UNTITLED PIXAR ANIMATION 2021

Fri, 6/18/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

JUNGLE CRUISE

Fri, 7/30/21 WIDE

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

Specs: Dolby Vis/Atmos

THE BEATLES: GET BACK

Fri, 8/27/21 WIDE

Director: Peter Jackson

Rating: NR

Genre: Doc

DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE

MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS

Fri, 3/25/22 WIDE

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch

Director: Sam Raimi

Rating: NR

Genre: SF/Fan/Adv

FOCUS FEATURES

LET HIM GO

Fri, 8/21/20 WIDE

Stars: Kevin Costner, Diane Lane

Director: Thomas Bezucha

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr

KAJILLIONAIRE

Fri, 9/18/20 WIDE

Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Gina

Rodriguez

Director: Miranda July

Rating: NR

Genre: Com

COME PLAY

Fri, 10/30/20 WIDE

Stars: Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher

Jr.

Director: Jacob Chase

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Hor

Photo Credit: Matt Kennedy

UNTITLED TOM MCCARTHY

PROJECT

Fri, 11/6/20 LTD

Stars: Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin

Director: Tom McCarthy

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr

GREENWICH ENTERTAINMENT

CREEM: AMERICA’S ONLY

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MAGAZINE

Fri, 8/7/20 LTD

Director: Scott Crawford

Rating: NR

Genre: Doc

DESERT ONE

Fri, 8/21/20 LTD

Director: Barbara Kopple

Rating: NR

Genre: Doc

IFC FILMS

bookings@ifcfilms.com

MADE IN ITALY

Fri, 8/7/20 LTD

Stars: Liam Neeson, Lindsay Duncan

Director: James D’Arcy

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra

SPUTNIK

Fri, 8/14/20 LTD

Stars: Oksana Akinshina, Fyodor

Bondarchuk

Director: Egor Abramenko

Rating: NR

Genre: SF

TESLA

Fri, 8/21/20 LTD

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Eve Hewson

Director: Michael Almereyda

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra

CENTIGRADE

Fri, 8/28/20 LTD

Stars: Vincent Piazza, Genesis

Rodriguez

Director: Brendan Walsh

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr

106 August 2020


THE NEST

Fri, 9/18/20 LTD

Stars: Jude Law, Carrie Coon

Director: Sean Durkin

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra

VOYAGERS

Fri, 11/25/20 WIDE

Stars: Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp

Director: Neil Burger

Rating: NR

Genre: SF/Thr

LIONSGATE

310-309-8400

ANTEBELLUM

Fri, 8/21/20 WIDE

Stars: Janelle Monáe

Director: Gerard Bush, Christopher

Renz

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr

THE COURIER

Fri, 8/28/20 WIDE

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch

Director: Dominic Cooke

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Dra

FATALE

Fri, 10/30/20 WIDE

Stars: Hilary Swank, Michael Ealy

Director: Deon Taylor

Rating: NR

Genre: Sus

THE DEVIL’S LIGHT

Fri, 1/8/21 WIDE

Director: Daniel Stamm

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor

CHAOS WALKING

Fri, 1/22/21 WIDE

Stars: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley

Director: Doug Liman

Rating: NR

Genre: Adv/SF

THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF

MASSIVE TALENT

Fri, 3/19/21 WIDE

Stars: Nicolas Cage

Director: Tom Gormican

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Com

THE ASSET

Fri, 4/23/21 WIDE

Stars: Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson

Director: Martin Campbell

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Thr

Antebellum

Fri, 8/21/20 WIDE

SPIRAL

Fri, 5/21/21 WIDE

Stars: Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor

BARB AND STAR GO TO

VISTA DEL MAR

Fri, 7/16/21 WIDE

Stars: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo

Director: Josh Greenbaum

Rating: NR

Genre: Com

Photo Credit: Matt Kennedy

THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD

Fri, 8/20/21 WIDE

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L.

Jackson

Director: Patrick Hughes

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Com

AMERICAN UNDERDOG: THE KURT

WARNER STORY

Fri, 12/10/21 WIDE

Director: Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra

August 2020

107


ON SCREEN BOOKING GUIDE

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4

Fri, 5/27/22 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Act

MAGNOLIA PICTURES

212-379-9704

Neal Block

nblock@magpictures.com

OUT STEALING HORSES

Fri, 8/7/20 LTD

Stars: Stellan Skarsgård, Bjørn

Floberg

Director: Hans Petter Moland

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra

ABOUT ENDLESSNESS

Fri, 9/18/20 LTD

Stars: Jane-Ege Ferling , Martin

Serner

Director: Roy Andersson

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra

ALONE

Fri, 9/18/20 LTD

Stars: Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca

Director: John Hyams

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr

PARAMOUNT

323-956-5000

A QUIET PLACE PART II

Fri, 9/4/20 WIDE

Stars: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy

Director: John Krasinski

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Hor

SNAKE EYES

Fri, 10/23/20 WIDE

Stars: Henry Golding, Andrew Koj

Director: Robert Schwentke

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG

Fri, 11/13/20 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Fam

COMING 2 AMERICA

Fri, 12/18/20 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Com

TOP GUN: MAVERICK

Wed, 12/23/20 WIDE

Stars: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

Specs: IMAX/Dolby Vis/Atmos

RUMBLE

Fri, 1/29/21 WIDE

Stars: Will Arnett, Terry Crews

Director: Hamish Grieve

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

MONSTER PROBLEMS

Fri, 2/12/21 WIDE

Stars: Dylan O’Brien

Director: Michael Matthews

Rating: NR

Genre: Adv

TOM CLANCY’S WITHOUT REMORSE

Fri, 2/16/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr

UNTITLED PARANORMAL ACTIVITY

MOVIE

Fri, 3/19/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor

INFINITE

Fri, 5/28/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: SF

MICRONAUTS

Fri, 6/4/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Act

JACKASS

Fri, 7/2/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Com

THE TOMORROW WAR

Fri, 7/23/21 WIDE

Stars: Yvonne Strahovski, Chris Pratt

Director: Chris McKay

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/SF

PAW PATROL

Fri, 8/20/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS

323-882-8490

WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS

Fri, 7/31/20 LTD

Stars: Charlie Plummer, Andy Garcia

Director: Thor Freudenthal

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Dra

THE GLORIAS

Fri, 9/25/20 LTD

Stars: Alicia Vikander, Julianne

Moore

Director: Julie Taymor

Rating: NR

Genre: Dr

SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES

212-556-2400

THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF

DAVID COPPERFIELD

Fri, 8/14/20 LTD

Stars: Dev Patel, Peter Capaldi

Director: Armando Innucci

Rating: PG

Genre: Com

THE FRENCH DISPATCH

Fri, 10/16/20 LTD

Stars: Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse

Ronan

Director: Wes Anderson

Rating: R

Genre: Com

SONY

212-833-8500

THE BROKEN HEARTS GALLERY

Fri, 8/7/20 WIDE

Stars: Geraldine Viswanathan,

Dacre Montgomery

Director: Natalie Krinsky

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Rom/Com

The Personal History

of David Copperfield

Fri, 8/14/20 LTD

Photo Courtesy Searchlight Pictures

CONNECTED

Fri, 10/23/20 WIDE

Stars: Abbi Jacobson, Danny

McBride

Director: Mike Rianda

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

HAPPIEST SEASON

Fri, 11/25/20 WIDE

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie

Davis

Director: Clea DuVall

Rating: NR

Genre: Rom/Com/Hol

108 August 2020


Top Gun: Maverick

Wed, 12/23/20 WIDE

Scott Garfield. © 2019 Paramount Pictures Corporation. All rights reserved.

August 2020

109


ON SCREEN BOOKING GUIDE

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

RESPECT

Fri, 12/25/20 WIDE

Stars: Jennifer Hudson, Forest

Whitaker

Director: Liesl Tommy

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra/Mus

UNTITLED GUY RITCHIE

Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE

Director: Guy Ritchie

Rating: NR

DOG

Fri, 2/12/21 WIDE

Stars: Channing Tatum

Reid Carolin

Rating: NR

Genre: Com

The Burnt Orange Heresy

Fri, 8/7/20 LTD

ESCAPE ROOM 2

Wed, 12/30/20 WIDE

Director: Adam Robitel

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor/Thr

PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY

Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE

Stars: James Corden, Rose Byrne

Director: Will Gluck

Rating: PG

Genre: Ani

CINDERELLA

Fri, 2/5/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Fan

GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE

Fri, 3/5/21 WIDE

Stars: Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard

Director: Jason Reitman

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor/Com/SF

MORBIUS

Fri, 3/19/21 WIDE

Stars: Jared Leto, Matt Smith

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Thr/SF

FATHERHOOD

Fri, 4/2/21 WIDE

Stars: Kevin Hart, Melody Hurd

Director: Paul Weitz

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra

MONSTER HUNTER

Fri, 4/23/21 WIDE

Stars: Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Fan

VIVO

Fri, 6/4/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE

Fri, 6/25/21 WIDE

Stars: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson

Director: Andy Serkis

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/SF

UNCHARTED

Fri, 7/16/21 WIDE

Stars: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 4

Fri, 8/6/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani/Com

MAN FROM TORONTO

Fri, 9/17/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Com

SONY PICTURES CLASSICS

Tom Prassis

212-833-4981

THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY

Fri, 8/7/20 LTD

THE FATHER

Fri, 11/20/20 LTD

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra

STX ENTERTAINMENT

310-742-2300

GREENLAND

Fri, 8/14/20 WIDE

Stars: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Thr

UNITED ARTISTS RELEASING

310-724-5678

Ask for Distribution

BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC

Fri, 8/28/20 WIDE

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter

Director: Dean Parisot

Rating: NR

Genre: Com/Adv

NO TIME TO DIE

Wed, 11/20/20 WIDE

Stars: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Thr

Specs: IMAX

SAMARITAN

Fri, 6/4/21 WIDE

Stars: Sylvester Stallone

Director: Julius Avery

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Thr

UNTITLED RUSSO BROTHERS

FAMILY FILM

Fri, 8/13/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Fam

UNIVERSAL

818-777-1000

CANDYMAN

Fri, 10/16/20 WIDE

Stars: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II,

Teyonah Parris

Director: Nia DaCosta

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor

UNTITLED UNIVERSAL EVENT

COMEDY

Fri, 10/23/20 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Com

UNTITLED UNIVERSAL EVENT FILM

2020

Fri, 11/13/20 WIDE

Rating: NR

UNTITLED AMBLIN PROJECT

Fri, 11/20/20 WIDE

Director: Joel Crawford

Rating: NR

THE CROODS 2

Fri, 12/23/20 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

NEWS OF THE WORLD

Fri, 12/25/20 WIDE

Stars: Tom Hanks

Director: Paul Greengrass

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra

110 August 2020


UNTITLED BLUMHOUSE

PRODUCTIONS

Fri, 1/8/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor

355

Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE

Stars: Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o

Director: Simon Kinberg

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr

UNTITLED UNIVERSAL ROMANTIC

COMEDY

Fri, 2/12/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Rom/Com

UNTITLED UNIVERSAL EVENT FILM 1

Fri, 3/5/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

THE BOSS BABY 2

Fri, 3/26/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

F9

Fri, 4/2/21 WIDE

Stars: Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron

Director: Justin Lin

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

Specs: IMAX/Dolby Vis/Atmos

NOBODY

Fri, 2/19/21 WIDE

Stars: Bob Odenkirk

Director: Ilya Naishuller

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Thr

BIOS

Fri, 4/16/21 WIDE

Stars: Tom Hanks

Director: Miguel Sapochnik

Rating: NR

Genre: SF

UNTITLED SPIRIT RIDING FREE FILM

Fri, 5/14/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION

Fri, 6/11/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU

Fri, 7/2/21 WIDE

Stars: Steve Carell, Taraji P. Henson

Director: Kyle Balda

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

UNTITLED M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN

THRILLER

Fri, 7/23/21 WIDE

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr

UNTITLED BLUMHOUSE

PRODUCTIONS

Fri, 8/13/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor

HALLOWEEN KILLS

Fri, 10/15/21 WIDE

Director: David Gordon Green

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor

WARNER BROS.

818-977-1850

TENET

Fri, 8/12/20 WIDE

Stars: John David Washington,

Robert Pattinson

Director: Christopher Nolan

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Thr

THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE

ME DO IT

Fri, 9/11/20 WIDE

Stars: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga

Director: Michael Chaves

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor

Specs: Dolby Vis/Atmos

WONDER WOMAN 1984

Fri, 10/2/20 WIDE

Stars: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig

Director: Patty Jenkins

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv/Fan

Specs: IMAX/3D/Dolby Vis/Atmos

DUNE

Fri, 12/18/20 WIDE

Stars: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca

Ferguson

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Rating: NR

Genre: SF

MORTAL KOMBAT

Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Act

THE LITTLE THINGS

Fri, 1/29/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Thr

TOM & JERRY

Fri, 3/5/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani

THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK

Fri, 3/12/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra/Cri

TOMB RAIDER 2

Fri, 3/19/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Act/Adv

REMINISCENCE

Fri, 4/16/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

GODZILLA VS KONG

Fri, 5/21/21 WIDE

Stars: Millie Bobby Brown, Eiza

González

Director: Adam Wingard

Rating: PG-13

Genre: SF/Act

Specs: IMAX/3D/Dolby Vis/Atmos

UNTITLED NEW LINE HORROR FILM

Fri, 6/4/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Hor

IN THE HEIGHTS

Fri, 6/18/21 WIDE

Stars: Anthony Ramos, Corey

Hawkins

Director: Jon M. Chu

Rating: NR

Genre: Mus/Rom/Dra

SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY

Fri, 7/16/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Ani/Com

THE SUICIDE SQUAD

Fri, 8/6/21 WIDE

Stars: Margot Robbie, Taika Waititi

Director: James Gunn

Rating: NR

Genre: Act

KING RICHARD

Fri, 11/19/21 WIDE

Rating: NR

Genre: Dra/Bio

Tenet

Fri, 8/12/20 WIDE

August 2020

111


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112 August 2020


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