Boxoffice Pro - August 2020

The Official Magazine of the National Association of Theatre Owners

The Official Magazine of the National Association of Theatre Owners

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$6.95 // <strong>August</strong> April <strong>2020</strong><br />


The impact of Covid-19<br />

on the cinema industry<br />

The Official Magazine of the National Association of Theatre Owners

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April <strong>2020</strong><br />


Photo Credit: Dean Rogers. Courtesy Searchlight Pictures<br />

82<br />

What the Dickens!<br />

The Personal History<br />

of David Copperfield<br />

hits the big screen<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />


16<br />

Covid-19 & Cinemas<br />

A timeline of the first six<br />

months of the crisis<br />

48<br />

The Next Big Thing<br />

The origins of cinema<br />

entertainment centers in<br />

the United States<br />

62<br />

Drive-In Summer<br />

Drive-ins experience a<br />

renaissance as audiences<br />

return to theaters outdoors<br />

76<br />

The Sounds Of Silence<br />

Interview with the sound<br />

editors behind Paramount's<br />

A Quiet Place Part II<br />

April <strong>2020</strong><br />




12<br />

16<br />

30<br />

38<br />

NATO<br />

Bringing back the moviegoing<br />

experience<br />

Covid-19 & Cinemas<br />

A timeline of the first six months<br />

of the crisis<br />

Charity Spotlight<br />

A recap of industry-wide charity<br />

initiatives<br />

Guest Column<br />

Can cinemas win back audiences<br />

after Covid-19 shutdowns?<br />

48<br />

62<br />

70<br />

The Next Big Thing<br />

The origins of cinema entertainment<br />

centers in the United States<br />

Drive-In Summer<br />

Drive-ins experience a renaissance<br />

as audiences return to theaters<br />

outdoors—while keeping their<br />

distance<br />

Remembering Our<br />

Hometown Theaters<br />

<strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong> staff look back at<br />

their hometown movie theaters<br />

76<br />

82<br />

88<br />

96<br />

The Sounds Of Silence<br />

Interview with the sound editors<br />

behind Paramount's A Quiet Place<br />

Part II<br />

What the Dickens!<br />

The Personal History of David<br />

Copperfield hits the big screen<br />

Coming Attractions<br />

Upcoming wide releases<br />

Event Cinema<br />

Event cinema responds to the<br />

Covid-19 programming gaps<br />

40<br />

A Century in Exhibition<br />

The 1960s: The collapse of the<br />

studio system<br />

100<br />

Long-Range Forecast<br />

Tentatively Tenet: Forecasting<br />

future box office when no<br />

existing models apply<br />

105<br />

Booking Guide<br />

“Our coordinated efforts<br />

to get the public back into<br />

movie theaters will make the<br />

difference in our industry,<br />

which I am certain will return<br />

stronger than ever.”<br />

p.12<br />

06 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

20<br />

AUG<br />

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entire theatre, diagnosing problems<br />

on your equipment or finding and<br />

installing the replacement parts you<br />

need, Sonic has the super powers to<br />

handle it all.<br />



CEO<br />

Julien Marcel<br />

SVP Content Strategy<br />

Daniel Loría<br />

Creative Direction<br />

Chris Vickers & Craig Scott<br />

at She Was Only<br />

EVP Chief Administrative Officer<br />

Susan Rich<br />

VP Advertising<br />

Susan Uhrlass<br />



Daniel Loría<br />


Rebecca Pahle<br />


Kevin Lally<br />


Laura Silver<br />


Shawn Robbins<br />


Chris Eggertsen<br />

Jesse Rifkin<br />


Vassiliki Malouchou<br />

Rachel Walkup<br />


Susan Uhrlass<br />

63 Copps Hill Road<br />

Ridgefield, CT USA 06877<br />

susan@boxoffice.com<br />


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<strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong> has served as the<br />

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John Fithian<br />

Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen<br />

<strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong> (ISSN 0006-8527), Volume 156, Number 5, <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>. <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong><br />

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

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08 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>




After a brief hiatus from publication,<br />

we’re happy to return in time to<br />

welcome cinemas back to business. As<br />

movie theaters around the world first<br />

began to close their doors in a global effort<br />

to curb the spread of Covid-19, we made<br />

the decision to suspend publication of<br />

BOXOFFICE PRO until most screens in<br />

the United States were back online. The<br />

wait was longer than any of us wanted or<br />

expected, but we kept busy throughout our<br />

respective stay-at-home orders by working<br />

on our digital platforms. From providing<br />

breaking news on our website and social<br />

media channels to launching new initiatives<br />

like The <strong>Boxoffice</strong> Podcast and our<br />

<strong>Boxoffice</strong> LIVE Sessions webinar series,<br />

our team adapted to the circumstances<br />

and has provided daily and up-to-the-minute<br />

coverage of every development in this<br />

crisis. Some of that work is highlighted in<br />

the following pages, in particular with our<br />

timeline of how cinemas have coped with<br />

the impact of Covid-19 so far. Finally, after<br />

months of stops and starts, we are happy<br />

to make our way back to your homes and<br />

offices with our magazine—just as cinemas<br />

around the world get ready to host<br />

new Hollywood releases on their screens.<br />

If we’ve learned anything from the past<br />

five months, it’s the value of expecting<br />

the unexpected and the importance<br />

of flexibility. This quality is especially<br />

relevant when it comes to our upcoming<br />

publication schedule: While we will<br />

continue to work around the clock on our<br />

digital platforms, we will not immediately<br />

return to monthly issues of the magazine.<br />

You can expect our next issue, for example,<br />

in December, when we’ll celebrate the<br />

100-year anniversary of this magazine.<br />

We will continue adjusting our frequency<br />

of publication according to the latest<br />

developments in the industry and in<br />

close collaboration with our advertising<br />

partners. To our subscribers, rest assured<br />

that we are working with our circulation<br />

department to ensure that all remaining<br />

issues in your subscription—including<br />

those we skipped due to the pandemic—<br />

are honored through the coming months.<br />

As much as we hoped that this return<br />

issue would mark the end of the Covid-19<br />

crisis, it’s clear to us now that we’ll have to<br />

learn how to deal with this situation—and<br />

its ripple effects across our industry—for<br />

the foreseeable future. It’s too early to<br />

forecast a resolution, let alone a time<br />

frame, but we are firmly committed to documenting<br />

this historic period and helping<br />

cinemas stay unified and informed. Like<br />

everyone else in theatrical exhibition, we<br />

are fully cognizant of the scope of this<br />

crisis—but also of the power that we have<br />

as an industry to work together toward a<br />

recovery from the biggest threat cinemas<br />

have faced in their existence. We’re all in<br />

this together, and we thank you again for<br />

your continued support and resilience.<br />

Julien Marcel<br />

Chief Executive Officer, The <strong>Boxoffice</strong> Company<br />

Publisher, <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong><br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />


Comfortable is the<br />

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Interested in padding your bottom line? Give us a call!<br />

www.proctorco.com | | sales@proctorco.com<br />


NATO 12 | Covid-19 16 | Charity Spotlight 30 | A Century In Exhibition 40<br />


Vogue Theatre. Manistee, Michigan.<br />

From closures in China in January to release date shifts<br />

in June, a look back at the first six months of the crisis.<br />

Covid-19 & Cinemas, p. 16<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />


Industry NATO<br />


BACK THE<br />



It is great to be back in the<br />

pages of <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong> after<br />

a brief hiatus. We thought<br />

it would be best to use this<br />

space to summarize the work<br />

we’ve been doing to help our<br />

industry rebound from the<br />

worst crisis it has ever faced.<br />


Government Relations<br />

Since the start of the global pandemic,<br />

NATO has been working tirelessly to<br />

assist theater owners in staying solvent.<br />

As Congress began to contemplate relief<br />

legislation in mid-March, we immediately<br />

moved to retain robust representation<br />

on Capitol Hill and worked assiduously<br />

to ensure that theaters would be eligible<br />

for assistance programs. Congress passed<br />

the CARES Act at the end of March,<br />

which included mandates for several<br />

loan programs: the Paycheck <strong>Pro</strong>tection<br />

<strong>Pro</strong>gram (PPP) and Emergency Injury<br />

Disaster Loans (EIDL) and grants through<br />

the Small Business Administration<br />

(SBA), and $454 billion for the Treasury<br />

Department to set up loans and loan<br />

guarantee programs. The legislation<br />

also included a significant expansion<br />

of unemployment insurance eligibility<br />

criteria and a $600 weekly supplement for<br />

individuals on unemployment.<br />

The PPP loan program is a forgivable<br />

loan that, as enacted, would allow<br />

borrowers to borrow up to 2.5 months<br />

of their average 2019 payroll amount<br />

to spend on a number of eligible<br />

expenses, with up to 100 percent<br />

forgiveness depending on salary and<br />

head-count maintenance requirements.<br />

However, in subsequent regulation, the<br />

SBA and Treasury made significant<br />

modifications to the program, including<br />

a requirement that 75 percent of any<br />

forgivable amount be spent on payroll,<br />

regardless of whether a borrower met<br />

the “safe harbor” provisions of the PPP<br />

as described in the CARES Act. NATO<br />

worked to communicate these changes<br />

to members, while also pushing Congress<br />

to revise the terms to reflect the original<br />

intent and flexibility. Due to aggressive<br />

lobbying by NATO, the PPP was modified<br />

by subsequent legislation to allow for<br />

greater flexibility in spending the loan<br />

(reducing the payroll spend to 60 percent);<br />

allowing for a significant increase in the<br />

forgiveness period (from 8 weeks to 24<br />

weeks); and extending the maturity period<br />

to five years for new loans, among other<br />

fixes. NATO will continue to lobby for PPP<br />

modifications including higher loan caps<br />

and/or the ability for borrowers to take on<br />

multiple loans.<br />

The CARES Act also allocated<br />

$454 billion for large and midsize<br />

companies via loans and loan guarantees<br />

administered by the Treasury Department<br />

and the Federal Reserve. However,<br />

currently the only program that has been<br />

implemented is the Main Street Lending<br />

Facility (MSLF), which uses a small<br />

portion of the allocated funds toward<br />

loans for small and midsize businesses.<br />

As of early July, the MSLF was still not<br />

fully operational, and many lenders have<br />

expressed concerns about the program.<br />

Exhibitors specifically have also shared<br />

concerns about EBITDA caps that are<br />

prohibitively low. We will continue to<br />

share information as it becomes available<br />

and to lobby for more flexible uses of the<br />

Treasury funds, particularly for shuttered<br />

industries such as movie theaters.<br />

Given the duration of the pandemic,<br />

Congress recognized that more assistance is<br />

needed. In June, the House passed further<br />

Covid relief legislation called the HEROES<br />

Act, and the Senate is expected to respond<br />

with a different bill at the end of July or<br />

beginning of <strong>August</strong>. Potential proposals<br />

in the forthcoming legislation include:<br />

additional loan options for businesses<br />

that have not received adequate relief; a<br />

limited liability shield for businesses that<br />

reopen; tax credits for personal protective<br />

equipment; either an extension of the<br />

pandemic unemployment assistance or<br />

a rehiring bonus; and direct assistance<br />

for families and individuals. NATO will<br />

continue to lobby aggressively for the needs<br />

of all exhibitors to help our members stay<br />

solvent and survive this period.<br />

12 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Cinema Reopening Operations<br />

Earlier this year, even before movie<br />

theaters were shut down by government<br />

mandate, NATO members were taking<br />

steps to mitigate the risk of exposure<br />

to the coronavirus. As awareness of the<br />

pandemic spread, theater owners were<br />

making sure that recommended health<br />

and hygiene practices (frequent hand<br />

washing, staying home if ill, etc.) were<br />

being followed by staff; that cleaning<br />

and sanitization practices were stepped<br />

up; that physical distancing was<br />

implemented; and that showtimes were<br />

adjusted to accommodate enhanced<br />

cleaning between screenings.<br />

When theater closures were mandated,<br />

theater owners and their teams explored<br />

additional health and safety measures<br />

and made plans to reopen their cinemas<br />

with robust precautions in place to protect<br />

employees and guests from exposure<br />

to Covid-19. To help members with this<br />

effort, NATO invited operations leaders,<br />

representing 11 NATO-member companies,<br />

to come together as NATO’s Cinema<br />

Reopening Operations Task Force.<br />

Recognizing that health and safety<br />

issues are always company-by-company,<br />

location-by-location decisions, the<br />

working group did not attempt to make<br />

industry-wide recommendations or<br />

suggest one specific model. Rather,<br />

the group guided the development of<br />

resources that identify issues for individual<br />

companies to contemplate as they make<br />

their reopening plans. With the input<br />

and support of the working group, NATO<br />

held two webinars that focused on the<br />

operational considerations of reopening<br />

cinemas and published a Covid-19 cinema<br />

reopening considerations document and<br />

an accompanying preopening planningstage<br />

checklist, which were shared with<br />

all NATO members. These resources<br />

address cleaning and sanitizing, employee<br />

health and personal hygiene, and physical<br />

distancing, as well as food and beverage<br />

operations, and were well received by<br />

NATO members.<br />

NATO members have used these<br />

resources, in combination with guidance<br />

from the Centers for Disease Control and<br />

Prevention, Johns Hopkins University,<br />

and other sources, to develop operational<br />

plans and protocols that have, in many<br />

cases, helped local governments have<br />

confidence to authorize reopenings in<br />

their jurisdictions. Additionally, NATO<br />

member companies have been nimble<br />

and responsive to new information and<br />

evolving guidance from federal, state,<br />

and local authorities. Some plans have<br />

been revised as more is learned about<br />

the efficacy of specific protocols and as<br />

moviegoers’ expectations and comfort<br />

with various protocols evolve.<br />

Communications and Marketing<br />

NATO’s communications team began<br />

preparing for the pandemic in January. As<br />

reports of a growing coronavirus epidemic<br />

in China began to circulate, we began<br />

research into updating NATO’s “Preparing<br />

for a Flu Pandemic,” first developed in<br />

2009 in response to the N1H1 outbreak.<br />

The document, along with NATO’s “Crisis<br />

Management Handbook” was distributed<br />

to members at the end of January. As the<br />

pandemic intensified and spread, NATO<br />

was heavily engaged with the press on<br />

managing perceptions of the imminent<br />

threat to the industry, particularly leading<br />

up to CinemaCon.<br />

With the WHO declaring a global<br />

pandemic in mid-March, NATO canceled<br />

CinemaCon, and most movie theater<br />

companies began closing their doors.<br />

NATO released a statement noting the<br />

responsible actions of theater owners<br />

and expressing optimism for the future<br />

of the industry. NATO’s communication<br />

strategy shifted to support of lobbying for<br />

federal aid to movie theaters and other<br />

industries and employees affected by the<br />

nationwide shutdown. We commissioned<br />

and placed a powerful opinion piece by<br />

Christopher Nolan in The Washington Post<br />

on the importance of movie theaters to our<br />

economy and culture.<br />

Throughout the shutdown, we have<br />

continued to press the importance of aid<br />

for the industry, its underlying strength<br />

when things return to normal, and its<br />

responsible and rational approach to<br />

reopening safely in thousands of media<br />

outlets around the world. To support<br />

this messaging, we have encouraged and<br />

facilitated the participation of theater<br />

owners of all sizes to tell their stories<br />

directly. These efforts are ongoing.<br />

NATO has also established a Media<br />

Relations/Research Task Force to<br />

share and aid in communications by<br />

members to their local press and patrons.<br />

In coordination with the Reopening<br />

Operations Task Force, it has encouraged<br />

the development of direct and clear<br />

communication of safety and sanitation<br />

protocols that consumer research has<br />

shown will be most effective in reassuring<br />

the public that theaters are reopening<br />

responsibly and safely.<br />

NATO has also been engaged in a crossindustry<br />

effort with the major studios<br />

and other partners to create a reopening<br />

marketing campaign that celebrates<br />

the magic of moviegoing. That effort is<br />

ongoing and contingent on the broad<br />

opening of the industry nationwide—<br />

indeed worldwide—and the return of<br />

wide-release films.<br />

Membership Services<br />

Since the cancellation of CinemaCon <strong>2020</strong><br />

and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic,<br />

NATO’s membership services have<br />

shifted toward several key topics. The first<br />

NATO Membership<br />

Companies Screens Sites<br />

Domestic 735 35,189 3,656<br />

U.S. Territories 3 43 42<br />

Canadian 30 2,435 273<br />

International 78 30,963 4,069<br />

Total 846 68,930 8,040<br />

NATO member<br />

companies represent<br />

almost 69,000 screens<br />

in 100 countries on six<br />

continents. The table<br />

to the left indicates the<br />

membership composition<br />

as of July 1, <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />


Industry NATO<br />

involved tracking studio activity and their<br />

possible programming timetables. Another<br />

important issue is U.S. legislation and<br />

policy movement regarding how businesses<br />

and their employees stay solvent until they<br />

can open back up. This included funding<br />

and advocating programs within the<br />

industry to assist cinema employees. Next,<br />

NATO observed support for moviegoing<br />

and analyzed how to get people back into<br />

cinemas when the time comes through a<br />

strategic public relations campaign. Finally,<br />

NATO needed to examine reopening<br />

operation procedures, as cinemas would<br />

prepare to welcome patrons again.<br />

NATO’s weekly State of the Industry<br />

webinar broadcasts every Thursday<br />

afternoon (Washington, D.C. time)<br />

to more than 400 member-company<br />

personnel around the world. As<br />

circumstances change rapidly in this<br />

current environment, the need to relay<br />

information on a timely basis remains<br />

a high priority. In addition to the SOTI<br />

webinars, NATO offers webinars on many<br />

of the topics mentioned above, including<br />

specific federal loan programs, P.R.<br />

advice, and shared reopening experiences<br />

from an operations standpoint. The<br />

webinar and tele-video platform has<br />

become a staple for businesses during the<br />

pandemic, and NATO intends to continue<br />

to provide much valuable information to<br />

its members throughout this ordeal.<br />

NATO staff have been working<br />

diligently on behalf of all cinemas to<br />

ensure that they have an industry to<br />

return to once cinemas fully reopen. We<br />

understand that cinema owners have<br />

anxiety, frustration, and concern about<br />

the future of the exhibition industry. The<br />

past few months have been full of stressful<br />

situations and difficult decisions. Our<br />

members have found value in NATO’s<br />

website posts, daily article updates,<br />

weekly webinars, and regular reports on<br />

developments within the industry. Thank<br />

you for your constant support, and we look<br />

forward to working with you this year.<br />

Dues Hiatus<br />

The month of July marks the beginning<br />

of NATO’s fiscal year. For the <strong>2020</strong>–21<br />

fiscal year, the NATO Executive Board<br />

authorized a one-time dues-free year<br />

of membership through June 30, 2021.<br />

Any cinema that has yet to join<br />

NATO, please contact David Binet<br />

(db@natodc.com) to take advantage of<br />

the current offer. During this period of<br />

uncertainty and great challenge, NATO<br />

proudly represents our members and all<br />

cinemas in the fight for the return of the<br />

exhibition industry.<br />

Employee Relief <strong>Pro</strong>grams<br />

Several hundred thousand movie theater<br />

employees all across the world were<br />

furloughed when theaters were forced to<br />

close. In the U.S., the Will Rogers Motion<br />

Picture Pioneers Foundation (WRMPPF)<br />

stepped up immediately to provide<br />

financial aid to those most in need. With<br />

$1.2 million in funding from Will Rogers’<br />

reserves, and a $1 million contribution<br />

from NATO, phase 1 of the Will Rogers<br />

Covid-19 Emergency Grant <strong>Pro</strong>gram<br />

provided an immediate $300 grant to<br />

7,300 furloughed employees in the U.S.<br />

A comparable grant program was<br />

launched by the Canadian Picture<br />

Pioneers (CPP) to provide financial relief<br />

to furloughed employees in Canada,<br />

and NATO supported that effort with a<br />

contribution of $100,000 CAD.<br />

Our hats are off to our friends at<br />

WRMPPF and CPP for undertaking and<br />

managing these important programs<br />

that gave a much-needed financial lift to<br />

industry employees negatively affected by<br />

the closures.<br />

WRMPPF has now moved to phase 2 of<br />

its Covid-19 relief program, which offers<br />

assistance on a more individualized basis,<br />

similar to its ongoing assistance program.<br />

The fundraising for phase 2 was given a<br />

nice boost by Lionsgate, as the company<br />

donated the proceeds of its Lionsgate Live!<br />

movie screenings to Will Rogers.<br />

NATO Events<br />

The cancellation of CinemaCon <strong>2020</strong> was<br />

another disappointment earlier this year.<br />

As we look ahead to better times, we are<br />

looking forward to gathering, virtually<br />

or in person, at the Beverly Hilton this<br />

October, for NATO’s Fall Meetings. Stay<br />

tuned for more details. At the same<br />

time, we are already working hard on<br />

new plans to celebrate to 10th edition of<br />

CinemaCon, scheduled for April 26–29,<br />

2021, at Caesars Palace.<br />

Global Cinema Federation<br />

In April, the Global Cinema Federation<br />

released a statement on its commitment to<br />

ensuring the survival of cinemas through<br />

the Covid-19 crisis. Over these last few<br />

months, the GCF executive committee<br />

has held several virtual meetings to<br />

continue to share updates on industry<br />

developments, including reopenings and<br />

back-to-the-cinema campaign ideas. The<br />

GCF has communicated with studios<br />

about the commitment to reopening safely<br />

in time for wide releases of upcoming<br />

films. The GCF has also worked on<br />

collecting information from theater<br />

owners operating in territories around<br />

the world about the impact of Covid-19<br />

on our industry. Chairman Alejandro<br />

Ramírez Magaña addressed the virtual<br />

CineEurope crowd on June 17 with an<br />

industry message from the Global Cinema<br />

Federation. In his address he said, “We<br />

must demonstrate our resilience, which is<br />

what has always made us a solid, united,<br />

and successful industry. Our coordinated<br />

efforts to get the public back into movie<br />

theaters will make the difference in our<br />

industry, which I am certain will return<br />

stronger than ever.”<br />

We must demonstrate our<br />

resilience, which is what<br />

has always made us a solid,<br />

united, and successful<br />

industry. Our coordinated<br />

efforts to get the public<br />

back into movie theaters<br />

will make the difference<br />

in our industry, which I am<br />

certain will return stronger<br />

than ever.<br />

14 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



COVID-19<br />

& CINEMAS<br />


JAN 23<br />

Cinemas in China are<br />

ordered to close on the eve<br />

of the country’s Lunar New<br />

Year holiday, one of the<br />

busiest moviegoing periods<br />

of the year.<br />




FEB<br />

16 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

FEB 23<br />

Cinemas in northern<br />

Italy, which account for<br />

approximately 48 percent of<br />

the country’s screens, begin<br />

to close as the region becomes<br />

the first site outside Asia<br />

to experience an outbreak<br />

of Covid-19 cases. The<br />

government orders the rest of<br />

the country’s cinemas to cease<br />

operations on March 8.<br />

FEB 12<br />

Mobile World Conference,<br />

the world’s largest mobile<br />

phone convention, cancels<br />

its <strong>2020</strong> event, intended to be<br />

held in Barcelona. It becomes<br />

the first major convention<br />

and trade show in <strong>2020</strong> to<br />

abandon its plans.<br />

MAR<br />

MAR 04<br />

No Time to Die, the latest entry in the James Bond<br />

franchise, becomes the first major studio release to be<br />

delayed due to Covid-19. The film, originally scheduled<br />

to premiere in London on March 31 before opening<br />

in the U.S. on April 10, is pushed back to November.<br />

Every other studio title on the schedule will follow suit<br />

in subsequent weeks, with some titles like Universal’s<br />

F9 (the ninth entry in The Fast & The Furious<br />

franchise) postponed by over a year to spring 2021.<br />

Photo Credit: Nicola Dove. © <strong>2020</strong> DANJAQ LLC AND MGM<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



MAR 06<br />

The city of Austin, Texas,<br />

cancels South by Southwest,<br />

making it the first major film<br />

festival to be canceled due to<br />

the escalating health crisis.<br />

MAR 12<br />

Cinemas in the Czech<br />

Republic, Estonia, Greece,<br />

Kosovo, Poland, and Romania<br />

suspend operations under<br />

government orders. Denmark’s<br />

cinemas close by mutual<br />

agreement on this date, ahead<br />

of government orders.<br />

“While local<br />

outbreaks vary<br />

widely in severity,<br />

the global<br />

circumstances<br />

make it impossible<br />

for us to mount<br />

the show that our<br />

attendees have<br />

come to expect.”<br />

—NATO<br />

MAR 11<br />

CinemaCon, the annual<br />

convention of the National<br />

Association of Theatre Owners,<br />

cancels its <strong>2020</strong> edition.<br />

Earlier that day, news broke<br />

that Tom Hanks and his wife,<br />

Rita Wilson, had contracted<br />

Covid-19 in Australia during<br />

the production of a film. Hours<br />

before NATO’s announcement,<br />

the NBA suspended the<br />

basketball season after one of<br />

its players tested positive.<br />

MAR 13<br />

AMC and Malco Theatres become the<br />

first major circuits in North America to<br />

announce restricted capacity measures,<br />

limiting admissions in each auditorium<br />

to 50 percent. By the end of the day,<br />

similar capacity measures are instituted<br />

in other circuits and independent cinemas<br />

throughout the country. In New York City,<br />

where a cluster of cases begins to spread,<br />

art houses and repertory theaters like<br />

Anthology Film Archives, Film at Lincoln<br />

Center, and Nitehawk Cinema announce a<br />

suspension of their programming.<br />

Image courtesy Cinemark<br />

18 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

MAR 14<br />

Cinemas in Belgium, France, Latvia, Norway, and<br />

Spain suspend operations under government orders.<br />

Cinemas in Germany begin closing by region, going<br />

completely dark by March 18.<br />

Alamo Drafthouse closes its New York City and Yonkers<br />

locations following news of an uptick in cases in the<br />

New York City region. Eighteen of the North American<br />

market’s top 25 circuits are confirmed to be operating<br />

under restricted capacity measures.<br />

CMX Cinemas announces its intent to acquire dine-in<br />

circuit Star Cinema Grill, which operates 10 locations<br />

in Texas, with an additional site in development.<br />

MAR 17<br />

The top five circuits in North America<br />

go dark as Cinemark and Marcus Theatres<br />

announce the temporary closure of<br />

their locations.<br />

The top cinema circuits in Brazil begin to<br />

suspend operations. Over 90 percent of<br />

the country’s screens go dark by March 20.<br />

Image courtesy Cinemark<br />

Image courtesy Star Cinema Grill<br />

MAR 15<br />

Covid-19 hits the domestic box office.<br />

Friday figures signal trouble as an initial<br />

sample of 22 holdover titles report a sharp<br />

65 percent Friday-to-Friday drop. The<br />

weekend ends with a cumulative market<br />

total of $53.6 million, the lowest tally since<br />

September 2000.<br />

MAR 16<br />

The mayors of New York City and Los<br />

Angeles, the highest-earning U.S. box<br />

office markets, order cinemas in their<br />

respective cities to close. By the end of the<br />

day, top circuits in North America such as<br />

AMC, Regal, Cineplex, Harkins, Showcase,<br />

Landmark Cinemas of Canada, Alamo<br />

Drafthouse, Bow Tie, and Caribbean<br />

Cinemas announce they will begin closing<br />

all their locations until further notice.<br />

Cinemas in Argentina suspend operations<br />

under government orders.<br />

The Cannes Film Festival decides to<br />

abandon its original festival dates for<br />

<strong>2020</strong> in mid-May, one of only a handful<br />

of times the festival has been forced to<br />

adjust its dates.<br />

Image courtesy Disney/Pixar<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



“We tried to come up<br />

with a solution that<br />

could both rescue<br />

our particular release<br />

during this time and<br />

also create a revenue<br />

stream for the lost<br />

income for our partner<br />

theaters.”<br />

—Richard Lorber,<br />

CEO, Kino Lorber<br />

MAR 19<br />

Kino Lorber launches Kino Marquee, a<br />

“Virtual Theatrical” streaming service with<br />

a business model that shares revenue from<br />

premium video on demand (PVOD) rentals<br />

with participating exhibitors. Within a<br />

week, more than 150 theaters across the<br />

country embrace the concept as a means<br />

to continue programming and establish a<br />

new revenue stream during closures. The<br />

first title to launch under Kino Marquee is<br />

Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho’s<br />

Bacurau, whose domestic theatrical run<br />

was interrupted by Covid-19.<br />

Photo Credit: Victor Jucá, courtesy Kino Lorber<br />

MAR 25<br />

Mexico’s two principal<br />

cinema chains—Cinépolis<br />

and Cinemex—suspend<br />

operations at all their<br />

locations in the country.<br />

MAR 18<br />

With movie theaters across the<br />

country closed, NATO urges<br />

Congress to move quickly on<br />

aid to help the approximately<br />

150,000 employees affected<br />

by the crisis. The trade<br />

association announces a<br />

$1 million donation from its<br />

reserve to aid cinema staff out<br />

of work due to the closures.<br />

MAR 23<br />

CineEurope <strong>2020</strong>, the<br />

convention of UNIC, the trade<br />

association for European<br />

cinemas, reschedules its annual<br />

convention in Barcelona from<br />

June to <strong>August</strong>.<br />

MAR 20<br />

Cinemas in the United<br />

Kingdom suspend operations<br />

under government orders,<br />

though most major circuits<br />

began suspending operations<br />

as early as March 17.<br />

MAR 26<br />

A bipartisan deal passes in<br />

Congress to provide partial<br />

economic relief for cinemas<br />

affected by the crisis.<br />

Cinemas in Russia<br />

suspend operations under<br />

government order.<br />

20 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

MAR 30<br />

NATO and the Will Rogers Pioneers<br />

Assistance Fund (PAF) partner to create<br />

an emergency fund for cinema workers<br />

affected by furloughs and layoffs during<br />

the pandemic. An initial $2.4 million is<br />

poured into the fund intended to provide<br />

financial assistance to movie theater<br />

employees facing economic hardship.<br />

The Criterion Collection and Janus<br />

Films launch the Art-House America<br />

Campaign, a relief fund to help art house<br />

and independent theaters affected by<br />

the health crisis. When the campaign<br />

ends several months later, it has raised a<br />

total of $842,088.<br />

APR 13<br />

Lionsgate partners with<br />

Fandango and NATO to launch<br />

Lionsgate Live!, a weekly<br />

series on YouTube that live<br />

streams top titles from the<br />

studio’s catalogue as part of a<br />

fundraising effort benefiting<br />

the Will Rogers Motion Picture<br />

Pioneers Foundation. Held<br />

on Friday evenings over four<br />

weeks, the campaign raises<br />

more than $200,000 during<br />

its run.<br />

MAR 31<br />

Cinemas begin to offer takeout<br />

concessions to help mitigate the<br />

financial fallout from closures. From<br />

popcorn curbside pickup orders to<br />

dine-in theaters offering takeout and<br />

delivery services, cinemas engage<br />

patrons on social media channels to<br />

promote concessions orders.<br />

MAR 28<br />

CJ CGV, the leading circuit in South<br />

Korea, temporarily closes approximately<br />

one-third of its locations in the country.<br />

Toho, the largest exhibition circuit in<br />

Japan, begins to close locations in Tokyo<br />

and surrounding areas.<br />

APR<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



APR 21<br />

IFC Films announces the<br />

creation of the Indie Theater<br />

Revival <strong>Pro</strong>ject, making 200<br />

of its catalogue titles available<br />

theatrically for participating<br />

cinemas upon their return<br />

to business.<br />

APR 25<br />

CMX Cinemas, the eighth-largest circuit in North<br />

American, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and<br />

abandons its planned acquisition of Texas-based<br />

dine-in circuit Star Cinema Grill.<br />

Image courtesy CMX Cinemas<br />

APR 28<br />

The governor of Texas allows<br />

the state’s stay-at-home order<br />

to expire, allowing cinemas to<br />

reopen as early as May 1.<br />

APR 20<br />

CJ CGV, South Korea’s leading exhibition circuit,<br />

launches a trial of “contact-free” locations designed<br />

to minimize face-to-face interactions. The program<br />

features ticketing kiosks, encourages mobile purchases,<br />

and incorporates concessions pickup lockers.<br />

Only a month after closure announcements, the state<br />

of Georgia announces it will allow movie theaters to<br />

reopen beginning on April 27.<br />

APR 26<br />

CJ CGV resumes operations in<br />

the locations it had closed in<br />

South Korea in late March.<br />

Image courtesy CJ CGV<br />

22 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

APR 30<br />

Alamo Drafthouse founder<br />

Tim League steps down as the<br />

CEO of the Texas-based dinein<br />

circuit. He is succeeded by<br />

Shelli Taylor, who becomes the<br />

first woman to head a top-15<br />

circuit in North America since<br />

February 2018.<br />

Image courtesy Alamo Drafthouse<br />

MAY 02<br />

Texas-based circuits EVO<br />

Entertainment and Santikos<br />

Entertainment become the<br />

first cinemas in the United<br />

States to lead the reopening<br />

effort. The circuits open their<br />

doors with revamped social<br />

distancing and sanitation<br />

guidelines, as well as a<br />

restricted admissions capacity<br />

per auditorium.<br />

Image courtesy EVO Entertainment<br />

APR 29<br />

After abandoning plans for the theatrical release<br />

of Trolls World Tour in favor of a PVOD rollout,<br />

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell boasts to The Wall Street<br />

Journal about the title’s success in home entertainment<br />

platforms. In the interview, the executive suggests<br />

future Universal titles will observe a similar<br />

simultaneous release model, therefore abandoning a<br />

theatrical exclusivity window. In a heated response,<br />

AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron rebukes the studio’s<br />

statements and vows to drop Universal titles from its<br />

circuit—the largest in North America—once it reopens.<br />

Photo Credit: DreamWorks Animation LLC<br />

MAY<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



“Having guests in<br />

our theaters also<br />

allows our teams<br />

to implement our<br />

enhanced cleaning<br />

and disinfecting<br />

protocols. You may<br />

even see our CEO<br />

helping out if you<br />

book an event!”<br />

—Annelise Holyoak,<br />

Cinépolis Luxury<br />

Cinemas<br />

MAY 08<br />

Texas-based cinema<br />

entertainment centers from<br />

Cinergy and dine-in chain Star<br />

Cinema Grill become the latest<br />

circuits to resume operations<br />

in the state.<br />

Image courtesy Cinergy<br />

MAY 05<br />

With circuits in Texas<br />

beginning to reopen, Cinépolis<br />

Luxury Cinemas subsidiary<br />

Moviehouse & Eatery adopts an<br />

alternative strategy: opening<br />

its doors by appointment only<br />

through heavily discounted<br />

private auditorium rentals.<br />

Other circuits adopt a similar<br />

practice, using private rentals<br />

as a “soft reopen” strategy. The<br />

concept finds success around<br />

the world—from independents<br />

like Atlanta’s Plaza Theater to<br />

circuits like Utah’s Megaplex<br />

Theatres, Sweden’s Svenska<br />

Bio, and Novo Cinemas in the<br />

United Arab Emirates.<br />

MAY 07<br />

Alamo Drafthouse launches<br />

an in-house VOD platform,<br />

becoming the second major<br />

circuit in North America to<br />

establish a streaming presence.<br />

AMC Theatres had previously<br />

launched its own VOD channel<br />

in October 2019.<br />

MAY 12<br />

CineEurope <strong>2020</strong> is canceled<br />

outright after originally being<br />

rescheduled for <strong>August</strong>. UNIC’s<br />

annual convention becomes<br />

the first major exhibition<br />

conference to go digital with a<br />

live digital event celebrated on<br />

June 17 and 18.<br />

Cinemas in Norway are<br />

permitted to reopen.<br />

Image courtesy Alamo Drafthouse<br />

24 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

MAY 15<br />

Drive-in cinemas see a resurgence as a viable alternative<br />

to closed cinemas throughout the country. Major circuits<br />

such as Marcus Theatres, B&B Theatres, Malco Theatres,<br />

and Showcase Cinemas begin reopening their first<br />

locations in the United States by welcoming cars into the<br />

lots of their outdoor screens.<br />

Cinemas in Germany are permitted to reopen, depending<br />

on regional statutes and restrictions, in a tiered<br />

reopening effort expected to be completed by June 30.<br />

MAY 25<br />

Cinemas in Spain are allowed<br />

to resume operations in a<br />

tiered reopening effort by<br />

region, with those located<br />

inside shopping malls<br />

scheduled to start on June 8.<br />

Most cinemas in the country<br />

will reopen by late June.<br />

Toho, Japan’s largest exhibition circuit, resumes<br />

operations at select locations throughout the country.<br />

Image courtesy IFC Films<br />

MAY 18<br />

ShowBiz Cinemas begins its reopening<br />

effort, with select locations in Texas and<br />

Oklahoma resuming operations.<br />

The National Association of<br />

Concessionaires cancels the <strong>2020</strong><br />

edition of its expo and trade show,<br />

originally scheduled for July 28–31 in<br />

Orlando, Florida.<br />

MAY 21<br />

Anticipation mounts upon news of<br />

reopening dates for major circuits, fueled<br />

by rampant speculation from the trade<br />

press and Wall Street analysts. The industry<br />

sets its sights on July 17 as the closest thing<br />

to a national reopening date, pinning<br />

its hopes on the Warner Bros. release of<br />

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet as the first new<br />

major studio release following the closures.<br />

After weeks of doubts about its summer<br />

release, a new trailer for Tenet premieres on<br />

the online video game platform Fortnite.<br />

A crucial detail doesn’t go unnoticed: the<br />

new trailer doesn’t mention a release date.<br />

Cinemas in Denmark are permitted<br />

to reopen.<br />

Image courtesy ShowBiz Cinemas<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



MAY 29<br />

France sets June 22 as the<br />

national reopening date for<br />

the country’s cinemas.<br />

Netflix partners with<br />

American Cinematheque, a<br />

nonprofit arts organization,<br />

to acquire Los Angeles’s<br />

iconic Egyptian Theatre, a<br />

movie palace dating to 1922.<br />

The remaining NATO regional<br />

conventions on the schedule—<br />

Rocky Mountain, ShowSouth,<br />

CinéShow, and Geneva—<br />

cancel their <strong>2020</strong> events.<br />

JUN 01<br />

Belgium-based multinational circuit<br />

Kinepolis reopens all 18 of its cinemas<br />

in the Netherlands under restricted<br />

admissions capacity. Subsequent<br />

territories are scheduled to return in<br />

stages, beginning with Spain on June 5<br />

and followed by Switzerland (June 6),<br />

Luxembourg (June 17), France (June 22),<br />

Spain (June 26), and Belgium (July 1).<br />

Image courtesy Kinepolis<br />

JUN 09<br />

California lays out guidelines<br />

for a return to cinemas as<br />

early as June 12.<br />

MAY 28<br />

Reading International<br />

begins its reopening effort<br />

in New Zealand, fully<br />

resuming operations in<br />

the country by June 4. The<br />

circuit sets reopening dates<br />

for its Australian locations<br />

beginning on June 11.<br />

JUN 12<br />

In a Friday evening news dump, Warner Bros. reveals<br />

it will be moving Tenet from its original release date of<br />

July 17 to July 31. The move ignites a wave of schedule<br />

changes from major studios across the industry.<br />

Disney’s live-action Mulan becomes the next major<br />

studio release on the schedule, dated for July 24.<br />

JUN<br />

U.K.-based multinational circuit Cineworld abandons<br />

its planned acquisition of Cineplex, the largest cinema<br />

chain in Canada. The deal, originally announced<br />

in December 2019, would have made Cineworld the<br />

world’s largest cinema circuit with over 11,200 screens<br />

in markets that include the United States, Canada,<br />

the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Czech Republic,<br />

Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Israel.<br />

26 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

“This announcement<br />

prompted an intense and<br />

immediate outcry from our<br />

customers, and it is clear<br />

from this response that we<br />

did not go far enough on<br />

the usage of masks.”<br />

—Adam Aron,<br />

CEO, AMC Theatres<br />

JUN 15<br />

Cinemas in Italy are permitted<br />

to reopen.<br />

Malco Theatres begins a tiered<br />

reopening effort with plans to<br />

have its full circuit operational<br />

by mid-July.<br />

JUN 18<br />

AMC Theatres announces a phased reopening of its<br />

U.S. cinemas, with most locations open by July 15.<br />

The circuit encounters strong public backlash to its<br />

decision to “strongly encourage” face masks in theaters<br />

in areas that don’t require them. Though the same<br />

policy is shared by most major circuits around the<br />

world, AMC’s stance becomes a national talking point<br />

for cinema reopening policies. The circuit revises the<br />

controversial policy a day later, requiring face masks<br />

for all patrons in the United States.<br />

Utah’s Megaplex Theatres begins to resume<br />

operations with the first tier of openings in the state.<br />

Image courtesy Megaplex Theatres<br />

JUN 19<br />

Cinemark, Marcus Theatres,<br />

and Studio Movie Grill begin a<br />

tiered reopening effort at their<br />

respective locations. Original<br />

plans have Cinemark entering<br />

the final phase of reopenings<br />

on the weekend of July 10.<br />

JUN 16<br />

Cineworld and its U.S. subsidiary, Regal<br />

Cinemas, announce a phased reopening<br />

effort scheduled to begin on July 10. Regal<br />

plans to have its fleet of theaters in the<br />

United States open by July 24.<br />

Image courtesy Cineworld<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



JUN 25<br />

The United States records the highest single-day<br />

increase of new Covid-19 cases to date, pausing the<br />

reopening efforts in several states. In response to the<br />

uptick in cases, the governor of New York removes<br />

cinemas from the list of approved businesses in the<br />

state’s phase 4 reopening plans despite its progress in<br />

overcoming its initial surge of cases.<br />

JUN 22<br />

Cinemas in France are permitted<br />

to reopen.<br />

Showcase Cinemas, a subsidiary<br />

of National Amusements and<br />

part of the Viacom media<br />

empire, becomes the third major<br />

circuit to launch a VOD platform,<br />

ShowcaseNOW.<br />

Another late-evening press release from Warner Bros.<br />

signals further delays for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.<br />

Originally intended as the title to begin welcoming<br />

audiences back to cinemas on July 17, the film is<br />

pushed back to an <strong>August</strong> 12 release.<br />

Omniplex Cinemas, the largest theater chain in<br />

Ireland, announces it will begin to resume operations<br />

on July 3 under a phased reopening effort.<br />

JUN 23<br />

Fandango, the leading digital ticketing<br />

aggregator in the United States, launches<br />

a comprehensive theater reopening<br />

program on its platform. Its initial<br />

offerings include the detailed health and<br />

cleaning policies of more than 100 movie<br />

chains, seating maps broken down by<br />

social distancing requirements, and filterbased<br />

searches to help moviegoers locate<br />

which theaters near them are currently<br />

open, among other features. Digital<br />

ticketing and mobile concessions ordering<br />

are expected to become major features of<br />

the global reopening effort.<br />

Image courtesy Fandango<br />

JUN 26<br />

Following Warner Bros.’ lead,<br />

Disney further delays the<br />

theatrical release of Mulan<br />

from July 24 to <strong>August</strong> 21.<br />

Cinemas return in Canada<br />

with leading circuits Cineplex<br />

and Landmark opening<br />

select locations in Alberta.<br />

Both circuits plan to ramp up<br />

reopenings across the country<br />

through July 3.<br />

Photo Credit: Film Frame. © 2019 Disney<br />

Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved<br />

28 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>



JUN 29<br />

AMC Theatres pushes back its reopening<br />

in the United States. The circuit announces<br />

revised plans to open approximately<br />

450 domestic locations on July 30 and<br />

approximately 150 remaining locations<br />

the following week. The circuit plans a<br />

full global reopening of its theaters in 14<br />

countries by early <strong>August</strong>.<br />

Cinemas in Greece are permitted to reopen.<br />

Image courtesy AMC Theatres<br />

With theatrical exhibition worldwide ground to a near<br />

halt, independent and art house cinemas got creative,<br />

coming up with innovative tactics for programming and<br />

keeping in touch with their communities.<br />

FilmScene<br />

Iowa City, Iowa<br />

FilmScene took to social media during the shutdown<br />

to keep its relationship with homebound patrons going<br />

strong. Online initiatives included craft how-tos, catchups<br />

with staff, and a #FilmSceneStealer challenge—<br />

inviting patrons to re-create their favorite film scenes from<br />

the comfort of their homes.<br />

Grand Avenue Theater<br />

Belton, Texas<br />

Connections with distributors let Texas’s Grand Avenue<br />

Theater sell “Grocery Essentials” via its website for<br />

curbside pickup. <strong>Pro</strong>ducts include staples like eggs, rice,<br />

toilet paper … and, of course, popcorn.<br />

Next Act Cinema<br />

Pikesville, Maryland<br />

Rain—or, for that matter, a closed theater—didn’t stop<br />

Maryland’s Next Act Cinema from celebrating Juneteenth<br />

with a virtual party, complete with comedians, music, and<br />

activism. (And face masks.)<br />

JUN 30<br />

Cineworld and its U.S. subsidiary, Regal<br />

Cinemas, along with Cinemark, delay their<br />

respective reopening dates. Cineworld<br />

and Regal, originally scheduled to open<br />

in the U.K. and U.S. on July 10, now plan<br />

to resume operations three weeks later,<br />

on July 31. Cinemark, which began its<br />

domestic reopening effort with select<br />

locations around Dallas on June 19, had<br />

planned to have all U.S. theaters open by<br />

July 10. Under the new plan, additional<br />

Cinemark locations will instead open on<br />

July 24, with the remaining sites resuming<br />

operations in subsequent weeks.<br />

Row House Cinema<br />

Pittsburgh<br />

Pittsburgh’s Row House Cinema took the virtual<br />

theatrical model one step further by spearheading the<br />

creation of its own film: the Quarantine Cat Film Festival.<br />

Independent cinemas nationwide put out the call to<br />

entry, inviting anyone sitting bored on their couch to get<br />

up and take a cute video of their cat. Row House pored<br />

(purred?) through all the entries, edited the chosen few<br />

together, and released the finished film to virtual cinemas<br />

across the U.S.<br />

Roxie Theater<br />

San Francisco<br />

The Roxie in San Francisco hosted its very own Mixtapein-Place<br />

film festival, inviting aspiring filmmakers from<br />

the Bay Area and beyond to submit short (three minutes<br />

or less) films made while sheltering in place. Genres: any.<br />

Exterior shots: not allowed.<br />

Spectacle Theater<br />

Brooklyn, New York<br />

When Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater closed, the volunteerrun<br />

cinema swiftly pivoted to Twitch, streaming movies<br />

(heavy emphasis on horror and obscure rarities) for free<br />

to audiences via the popular live-streaming platform.<br />

The programming was varied, and so was the audience:<br />

“I’ve seen a lot of people tuning in from overseas who<br />

absolutely could not have ever made it to a Spectacle<br />

screening,” programmer Zachary Fleming told <strong>Boxoffice</strong><br />

<strong>Pro</strong>. “A few people from London and Hong Kong and<br />

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

gonna head out to work now. Thanks for the movie.’”<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />




Golden Link<br />

In June, in-cinema merchandise manufacturer<br />

Golden Link announced that it<br />

would donate 10 percent of proceeds from<br />

a new line of safety products designed<br />

exclusively for cinemas—including the<br />

children’s Justice League masks—to<br />

Variety – the Children’s Charity. “At Golden<br />

Link, we have been looking for an opportunity<br />

to increase our participation with<br />

charities through our work with cinemas,”<br />

said Golden Link president Jeff Waaland<br />

in a statement. “With the current situation,<br />

this seemed like the perfect time to take<br />

action. Not only are these masks providing<br />

protection, but each one sold will help less<br />

fortunate children.”<br />

Showcase Cinemas Pay Tribute<br />

As moviegoers across the United States<br />

sheltered in place inside their homes,<br />

millions of essential workers kept us going.<br />

Showcase Cinemas paid tribute to those<br />

everyday heroes with its “Superheroes<br />

Photo courtesy Golden Link<br />

Aren’t Just in Movies” social media campaign,<br />

launched in April.<br />

The campaign invited customers to<br />

share a photo or video of themselves<br />

dressed as their favorite superhero. “In<br />

these challenging times, we have seen that<br />

superheroes aren’t just in movies. That’s<br />

why we are asking our Showcase fans to<br />

show their support for the everyday heroes<br />

in their lives by sharing a pic dressed as<br />

your favorite movie hero,” said Mark Malinowski,<br />

vice president of global marketing<br />

at Showcase Cinemas. “We‘ll be using the<br />

submissions to create a special pre-show<br />

trailer that will run in Showcase Cinemas<br />

locations nationwide once we open.”<br />

Santikos Entertainment<br />

On March 25, Santikos Entertainment<br />

launched an “employee food bank,” distributing<br />

over 700 free meals to employees<br />

and local first responders. They also<br />

partnered with a local food distributor to<br />

create a curbside “grocery store,” where<br />

employees could purchase food at<br />

cost. Both initiatives remained active<br />

until Santikos theaters reopened. The<br />

John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation<br />

also donated $1 million to the Covid-19<br />

Response Fund.<br />

Paradise Theatre<br />

When Toronto’s Paradise Theatre launched<br />

its “virtual cinema,” they decided to pay<br />

it forward. With every ticket bought for<br />

one of its streaming releases, the Paradise<br />

donated a pair of tickets to frontline workers,<br />

good for when the theater reopens.<br />

The Paradise was inspired by the Jam Jar<br />

Cinema Local Heroes Campaign, which<br />

raised money to distribute free tickets to<br />

frontline workers in the U.K.<br />

“When the necessity of social distancing<br />

comes to a close, Paradise will have what<br />

we’ve been missing: the opportunity to<br />

enjoy the company of others, delighting in<br />

a shared experience, outside of work. And<br />

who deserves that more than the people<br />

Photo Courtesy Paradise Theatre<br />

30 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

on the front lines of today’s crisis? We’re<br />

excited to give back to those working so<br />

hard to protect Torontonians by treating<br />

them to a great night out,” said Sonya<br />

William, Paradise Theatres’ director of<br />

communications.<br />

so hard on the front lines of this pandemic,”<br />

said Luis Olloqui, CEO, Cinépolis<br />

Luxury Cinemas. “At the same time, this<br />

program will help support our employees<br />

while we eagerly await the reopening of<br />

our theaters.”<br />

Cinépolis<br />

Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas, the U.S. arm<br />

of Mexico’s multinational exhibition giant<br />

Cinépolis, launched a campaign in April to<br />

donate tickets to nurses and help its employees<br />

affected by the Covid-19 shutdown.<br />

In honor of Nurses Week, the circuit<br />

donated two tickets to nurses at hospitals<br />

near its locations (like the happy recipient<br />

above) with the purchase of every $50<br />

e-gift card sold through its website. The<br />

campaign ran from April 20 to May 5;<br />

funds raised went to support furloughed<br />

Cinépolis staff.<br />

“We’re extremely grateful for our health<br />

care workers, and we’d like to give back to<br />

the nurses at our local hospitals working<br />

Photo Courtesy Cinépolis<br />

Megaplex Theatres<br />

This past spring, Megaplex Theatres took<br />

part in a week-long food drive organized<br />

by its parent company, the Larry H. Miller<br />

Group of Companies (LHM Group). The<br />

campaign, called “Driven to Assist,”<br />

offered a free large tub of fresh popcorn in<br />

exchange for a donation of nonperishable<br />

food at any Megaplex location.<br />

“One of our guiding principles at the<br />

Larry H. Miller Group of Companies is<br />

to ‘go about doing good until there is too<br />

much good in the world,’” said Gail Miller,<br />

owner and chair of LHM Group. “I am<br />

impressed with Utahns’ willingness to<br />

collaborate and to serve others. Together,<br />

we can help fulfill a critical need for the<br />

Utah Food Bank and its partners.”<br />

Studio Movie Grill<br />

As they approached reopening, Texasbased<br />

drive-in chain Studio Movie<br />

Grill launched its One Story Fund,<br />

directing 10 percent of ticket, food,<br />

and beverage proceeds from opening<br />

weekend (June 19–21) to team members<br />

in need. Under its Food to Go program,<br />

10 percent of proceeds from curbside<br />

concessions pickup were similarly<br />

donated to furloughed SMG employees.<br />

In late summer/early autumn, SMG<br />

will be supporting local library reading<br />

programs as well as offering free tickets<br />

to participants in an American Red Cross<br />

blood drive.<br />

Atlas Atlantic Cinema<br />

Atlas Atlantic Cinema in Atlantic, Iowa,<br />

raised $2,000 in April for its local food<br />

bank with a “popcorn pop-up” sale. The<br />

sale, which was promoted with a single<br />

Facebook post, ended up drawing so many<br />

people that some waited for over an hour<br />

to receive their bucket. But according to<br />

co-owners Jacob and Rylea Anderson,<br />

no one raised a fuss. Instead, the spirit<br />

of generosity was in full flower. “There<br />

[were] a lot of people that were paying it<br />

forward,” said Jacob Anderson. “That was<br />

really fun to see. You know, they’d buy<br />

a bucket for the next car, and [that car<br />

would] do it in return.”<br />

Photo Courtesy Atlas Atlantic Cinema<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />





A shutdown of theaters didn’t mean a<br />

shutdown of good works for Variety – the<br />

Children’s Charity and its various chapters.<br />

Below are just some of Variety’s efforts to<br />

help at-need children and their families<br />

over the past four months.<br />

1. Detroit and Southern California<br />

With schools closed, Variety of Detroit<br />

donated food to children and families<br />

in need through its Variety Feeds Kids<br />

program. The Variety Boys & Girls Club of<br />

Boyle Heights, a beneficiary of Variety of<br />

Southern California, also distributed daily<br />

meals to 300 local club members.<br />

2. St. Louis<br />

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Variety<br />

of St. Louis changed its annual summer<br />

camp format to a free Virtual Adventure<br />

Camp. St. Louis–area kids and teens with<br />

disabilities (ages 4–20) created crafts,<br />

played games, took virtual field trips,<br />

made friends, and much more, all from<br />

the safety of their homes.<br />

3. Wisconsin<br />

Variety of Wisconsin shipped free art<br />

supplies to local families and took to<br />

YouTube to share a for-all-abilities painting<br />

tutorial led by world-renowned artist<br />

Walfrido Garcia.<br />

4. Variety of the Desert<br />

Variety of the Desert partnered with FIND<br />

Food Bank to distribute 5,000 meals at a<br />

mobile distribution site serving children<br />

and families in the Coachella Valley of<br />

California. In addition to meals, children<br />

could pick up a literacy bag filled with<br />

books, bookmarks, pencils, and other<br />

reading incentives, courtesy of Young<br />

Variety of the Desert.<br />

5. Illinois<br />

Variety of Illinois brought its Variety<br />

Sunshine Coach van to help safely<br />

celebrate local children on their birthdays.<br />

The outside of the van is decorated<br />

specifically for each child, and the<br />

birthday boy/girl receives a little surprise.<br />

Variety of Illinois gives a big thank you to<br />

their friends at Kernel Season’s for helping<br />

celebrate their Variety kids!<br />

6. Manitoba<br />

Since closures began due to Covid-19,<br />

Variety of Manitoba has funded more than<br />

417 hours of virtual therapy sessions for 51<br />

children living with special needs. Services<br />

include speech therapy, occupational<br />

therapy, ABA therapy, and music therapy.<br />

7. Iowa<br />

Variety of Iowa and the Principal Charity<br />

Classic have proudly come together to<br />

provide a $35,000 grant to the Food Bank of<br />

Iowa. Support for Iowa’s children is more important<br />

now than ever before, and this grant<br />

will provide approximately 140,000 meals<br />

to hungry children and families. The Young<br />

Variety of Iowa board also volunteered at the<br />

Food Bank of Iowa to help pack and organize<br />

food. In total, they packed 288 boxes of<br />

product equaling 5,285 pounds of food. If<br />

you are a young professional between the<br />

ages of 21 and 35 who would like to help<br />

children in need in your local community,<br />

please find your local Young Variety chapter<br />

at usvariety.org/young-variety.<br />

Greater Kansas City<br />

Each year, Variety of Greater Kansas City<br />

pays tribute to Variety’s entertainment<br />

industry heritage with The Variety Show.<br />

This year, Variety KC held the Virtual<br />

Variety Show hosted by KCTV 5. Watch<br />

the show and enjoy some inspiration at<br />

https://varietykc.org/show/.<br />

Founded in 1927 by a group of<br />

theater owners and showmen<br />

in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,<br />

for nearly 100 years Variety<br />

– the Children’s Charity has<br />

provided invaluable assistance<br />

to children who are sick,<br />

disadvantaged, or live with<br />

disabilities and other special<br />

needs.<br />

Variety – the Children’s Charity<br />

currently has a network of 42<br />

offices in 13 countries.<br />

To submit events for future coverage,<br />

email numbers@boxoffice.com<br />

32 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

1. Detroit and Southern California<br />

2. St. Louis<br />

3. Wisconsin 4. Variety of the Desert<br />

5. Illinois<br />

Images courtesy Variety – the Children’s Charity<br />

6. Manitoba<br />

7. Iowa<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



Though the amount of<br />

each individual donation<br />

has gone down during the<br />

Covid-19 crisis, the number<br />

of donations has gone up—<br />

indicating people’s desire to<br />

contribute to a cause even as<br />

their means to do so becomes<br />

more precarious.<br />


UP<br />

Will Rogers Motion Picture<br />

Pioneers Foundation helps the<br />

exhibition community make it<br />

through Covid-19<br />


For more than 80 years, the Will<br />

Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation—founded<br />

in 1939 in memory of its<br />

movie star namesake, who died in a plane<br />

crash four years earlier—has been providing<br />

assistance to those in need within the<br />

film exhibition community through their<br />

Pioneers Assistance Fund. With Covid-19<br />

putting that community more in need than<br />

ever before, Will Rogers stepped up.<br />

On March 30 Will Rogers announced<br />

the creation of a Covid-19 Emergency<br />

Grant, designed to provide financial<br />

assistance to theater workers laid off or<br />

furloughed as a result of the pandemic.<br />

“When the theater closures took place,<br />

it was instinct for us to jump in and<br />

help,” explains executive director Todd<br />

Vradenburg. NATO kicked in a cool<br />

million, matched by $1.4 million from Will<br />

Rogers’s reserves—“and just like that, we<br />

had $2.4 million available to create our<br />

Phase 1 Emergency Fund to help theater<br />

employees who were furloughed without<br />

pay.” By late June, Will Rogers had sent<br />

a combined $2.4 million to 7,728 people,<br />

with applications still being accepted and<br />

grants still being sent out as of press time.<br />

The mission of Will Rogers’s Covid-19<br />

Emergency Grant is simple, says Vradenburg:<br />

“It was important to us to show<br />

theater workers we care about them.”<br />

Roughly 75 percent of those applications<br />

came in within the first week of the<br />

grant going live—leading to a busy spring<br />

and summer (putting it mildly) for Will<br />

Rogers’s six-person “small and mighty”<br />

staff, says director of development Christina<br />

Blumer. Will Rogers’s mission, and<br />

the sheer scope of the need that sprang up<br />

in the weeks after the shutdown, required<br />

collaboration and communication across<br />

various facets of the entertainment industry.<br />

To do its work, Will Rogers drew upon<br />

the assistance of NATO, which in addition<br />

to its initial donation helped get the word<br />

out among its members, as well as theater<br />

HR departments that verified employment<br />

so grants could be sent out.<br />

Vradenburg is quick to note that Will<br />

Rogers is far from the only group that<br />

stepped up to help the exhibition community.<br />

Other initiatives include Art-House<br />

America and fundraisers specific to theater<br />

34 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

workers in New York and Chicago; NATO<br />

of California/Nevada set up its own $1.25<br />

million relief fund; and individual exhibitors<br />

contributed via “their own assistance<br />

programs. AMC has AMC Cares, Regal<br />

has the Regal Foundation, Cinemark has<br />

Cinemark Cares, Marcus has an assistance<br />

program for their employees. That’s been<br />

a big help. We’re not doing this all alone.<br />

We may have a big chunk of it, but many<br />

exhibitors are also kicking in [and] helping<br />

their employees.”<br />

Among the most visible supporters of<br />

Will Rogers is Lionsgate, which hosted a<br />

four-week streaming series launched by<br />

Jamie Lee Curtis. Called Lionsgate Live!,<br />

the series paired films (The Hunger Games,<br />

Dirty Dancing, La La Land, and John Wick)<br />

with special guest stars as well as a call to<br />

action to donate to Will Rogers. “We think<br />

it’s a brilliant promotion,” says Vradenburg.<br />

“From the first phone call we received<br />

describing it to what actually ended up<br />

being put together—how they packaged<br />

it and got celebrities to do on-camera<br />

messages—it’s really, really smart.”<br />

Lionsgate Live!’s first screening, of The<br />

Hunger Games, netted over 10,000 viewers<br />

and donations from over 350 people.<br />

Most of those were “donors we never had<br />

before,” says Vradenburg. “They now know<br />

about this charity, and they support it. So<br />

hopefully we bring them into the family a<br />

little bit.” By the end of week four, Lionsgate<br />

Live! had netted a grand total of over<br />

$200,000 for the Will Rogers coffers. Other<br />

companies in the film industry rallied to<br />

support Will Rogers as well. Popcornopolis<br />

donated a portion of proceeds tied to<br />

Lionsgate Live! screenings, and Kernel<br />

Season’s, Influx Worldwide, Malco Theatres,<br />

and Film Row hosted third-party<br />

fundraisers. Sony Corporation and Sony<br />

Pictures Entertainment dipped into their<br />

Sony Global Relief Fund for Covid-19 and<br />

donated $1 million.<br />

“As a national charity goes, we’re a<br />

smaller organization,” says Blumer—so<br />

something like Lionsgate Live!, which<br />

gets the word out about Will Rogers to<br />

thousands of people, is a huge benefit to<br />

the organization in both the short and<br />

long terms. “To see the type of traffic that<br />

we received on social media—and the<br />

comments and the interactions and the<br />

tags—it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen<br />

even during a large event, like [Will Rogers’s<br />

annual] Pioneer Dinner or something<br />

that would generally have a lot of media<br />

around it. The social media interaction<br />

that we had was unprecedented, I would<br />

say. As well as the number of donors.” In<br />

general, explains Vradenburg, though the<br />

amount of each individual donation has<br />

gone down during the Covid-19 crisis, the<br />

number of donations has gone up—indicating<br />

people’s desire to contribute<br />

to a cause even as their means to do so<br />

becomes more precarious.<br />

Weeks into the crisis, as applications<br />

began to die down, Will Rogers shifted to<br />

Phase 2 of the Pioneers Assistance Fund’s<br />

Covid-19 Emergency Grant. Due to the<br />

sheer number of people in need, Vradenburg<br />

explains, it was all but impossible for<br />

Phase 1 to take any specific circumstances<br />

into account when issuing grants. Phase<br />

2, however, is based on factors like health<br />

care expenses or unemployment status. As<br />

of press time, Will Rogers was still in Phase<br />

2 of its Covid-19 Emergency Grant. That<br />

phase “will continue until circumstances<br />

change,” says Blumer. “There are no plans<br />

to end the Emergency Grant program.<br />

Helping people pay for COBRA and health<br />

care continues to be the top need.”<br />

Phase 2 of Will Rogers’s Covid-19 response,<br />

Vradenburg notes, looks an awful<br />

lot like their regular assistance program.<br />

Will Rogers’s normal operations—both<br />

the Pioneers Assistance Fund and Brave<br />

Beginnings, which sends money to hospitals<br />

so they can buy equipment to help<br />

premature babies—are still going strong,<br />

since “that money was raised in 2019 and<br />

was already in the budget,” Vradenburg<br />

says. “We will likely see a decrease in our<br />

activity/spending in 2021,” since reserves<br />

will be depleted and many of the fundraising<br />

efforts they normally rely on—like golf<br />

tournaments and the Pioneer of the Year<br />

dinner—are currently impossible, with<br />

exhibitors not in a position to donate. All<br />

the same, assures Vradenburg, “we’ll do<br />

something to keep those programs going<br />

in 2021, because we’re not ready to let<br />

them go dormant.”<br />

The Will Rogers Motion Picture<br />

Pioneers Foundation, like the exhibition<br />

industry itself, will continue moving<br />

on—and continue being absolutely<br />

essential—even after the current crisis<br />

calms down. Therein lies the silver lining,<br />

say Vradenburg and Blumer. Many people<br />

knew the work of the Will Rogers Foundation<br />

but few had a direct, immediate<br />

need for assistance. Blumer likens it to<br />

the unemployment system: “So many<br />

more people now are fully aware of what<br />

they do and how it works and what the<br />

application process looks like, because<br />

they need it.” The same is true with Will<br />

Rogers. As Phase 2 applications come in,<br />

social workers have flagged those from<br />

people dealing with “accident, illness, or<br />

injury—in addition to Covid-19 employment<br />

issues,” explains Blumer. As a result,<br />

several dozen people who are eligible for<br />

assistance from the Pioneers Assistance<br />

Fund but only applied because of the<br />

Covid-19 Emergency Grant have begun to<br />

receive help.<br />

“The bottom line is, they get it now,”<br />

says Vradenburg. Awareness of Will<br />

Rogers and its mission has increased, and<br />

they plan to keep that momentum going.<br />

“Once the dust settles on this Covid-19<br />

crisis, we’ll come out with [additional]<br />

messages about who we are and how you<br />

can support us and why it’s important<br />

that the Pioneers Assistance Fund is<br />

always here for people”—ready to tackle<br />

the unprecedented financial challenges<br />

the industry will still be recovering from.<br />

“A good number of people found us who<br />

probably needed us before this pandemic<br />

hit. And thank goodness that they found<br />

us, because we should be able to give them<br />

some help and get them through a rough<br />

patch. That’s what we’re all about.”<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />







Photo courtesy Lollipop Theater Network<br />

Since 2002, it’s been the mission<br />

of the Lollipop Theater Network to<br />

brighten the lives of hospitalized children.<br />

Aided by a board of directors packed<br />

with film industry executives—including<br />

Carolyn Blackwood, COO at Warner Bros.;<br />

Chris Aronson, president of theatrical<br />

distribution at Paramount; and Jack<br />

Kline, former president and CEO of Christie—for<br />

nearly two decades Lollipop has<br />

brought film screenings and film stars to<br />

L.A.-area hospitals, enabling children with<br />

life-threatening illnesses to experience the<br />

magic of the movies.<br />

In March, everything changed.<br />

Hospitals closed to outside visitors.<br />

Lollipop closed its offices and postponed<br />

its annual Superhero Walk, the keystone<br />

event among Lollipop’s yearly fundraising<br />

activities. And Lollipop—with its three<br />

full-time staff members—looked at the<br />

typical number of events it hosts—and<br />

tripled it.<br />

The ramping-up wasn’t planned, says<br />

co-founder and executive director Evelyn<br />

Iocolano. Rather, it was a natural response<br />

to an increased need paired with a shift<br />

in how Lollipop operates—away from<br />

in-person events toward digital ones,<br />

where actors, artists, and other industry<br />

professionals interact with hospitalized or<br />

outpatient children via Zoom.<br />

When coronavirus hit the country in<br />

March, recalls Iocolano, social media<br />

was filled with frantic requests for things<br />

to do. Movies to watch, bread to bake,<br />

hobbies to learn—anything to cope with<br />

the quarantine—not just to fill time but<br />

also to help stave off anxieties about<br />

the future. “In a really scary time, they<br />

were looking for things to distract them.<br />

… It made me think: This is what we’ve<br />

been doing for 20 years. These kids that<br />

are in hospitals, [even] when there’s<br />

no pandemic, they’re fighting for their<br />

lives because of cancer, leukemia, heart<br />

disease, kidney transplants. They are<br />

dealing with that fear, that confinement<br />

and isolation and uncertainty.”<br />

All this was made worse by the coronavirus,<br />

which cut off much of the kids’<br />

connection with the outside world and<br />

cut down on opportunities to keep them<br />

engaged. And so, days before Los Angeles<br />

issued its stay-at-home order, Lollipop<br />

put together its first digital one-on-one<br />

session, connecting a patient at USC<br />

Medical Center with an animation artist<br />

from DreamWorks. “When we finished<br />

36 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

The internet is filled with<br />

video content for children,<br />

but it’s knowing the person<br />

at the other end of the Zoom<br />

call “actually sees you” ...<br />

that is at the heart of what<br />

Lollipop provides.<br />

Photo courtesy Lollipop Theater Network<br />

that call, we were like, ‘there’s something<br />

there,” recalls Iocolano. “I always thought<br />

in-person was the only way to do it, because<br />

it was real. It was more effective. But<br />

these [digital] visits are just as effective, if<br />

not more so.”<br />

Logistically, digital visits are less<br />

challenging: Celebrity visitors don’t need<br />

to find time in their schedules for the long<br />

drive to the hospital, and if they’re not up<br />

on their immunizations it doesn’t much<br />

matter. Lollipop’s geographical reach<br />

has been widened; since the pandemic<br />

hit, Lollipop has expanded its visits to<br />

28 hospitals. (Screenings, notes Iocolano,<br />

have been provided nationwide since<br />

Lollipop’s inception.)<br />

Between March 20 and June 22, Lollipop<br />

hosted over 50 Zoom sessions—typically<br />

between four and seven a week—ranging<br />

from one-on-one chats to story times to<br />

drawing lessons with professional illustrators.<br />

(Emmy-winner Debbie Allen even<br />

helped Lollipop launch a weekly dance<br />

session for health care workers.) In the first<br />

weeks of the pandemic, most of Lollipop’s<br />

sessions were one-on-one; by late June<br />

they had shifted to mostly group sessions,<br />

which can reach over 200 children apiece.<br />

One of those group sessions was a mid-May<br />

screening of Scoob!, followed by a virtual<br />

visit with cast members and complete<br />

with swag provided by Warner Bros. Since<br />

that event, says Iocolano, multiple cast<br />

members have reached out to ask how they<br />

can do more visits.<br />

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” she says.<br />

“I think the guests really feel that they’re<br />

able to give back in a time where they’re<br />

confined to their houses, and they’re<br />

trying to figure out, ‘How can I help this<br />

situation?’ This is a way for them to do it<br />

from home. They can really see the impact,<br />

and the kids are really enjoying meeting<br />

these people that they never would meet<br />

and being able to actually talk to them,<br />

engage with them.” It’s that interactive<br />

part that’s “magic” for the kids. The<br />

internet is filled with video content for<br />

children, but it’s knowing the person at<br />

the other end of the Zoom call “actually<br />

sees you,” she says, that is at the heart of<br />

what Lollipop provides.<br />

“These kids are stuck in hospitals. They<br />

don’t have that daily interaction. They just<br />

have their family—who loves them, but it’s<br />

nice to see other people, and it’s nice to be<br />

acknowledged. That’s what these sessions<br />

have been enabling us to do around the<br />

country.” Important, too, is that the<br />

children attending these group events<br />

can see “other kids in their same situation.<br />

That’s another part of it: that they’re not<br />

alone. There are other people struggling.<br />

But when we do these sessions, all of that<br />

disappears, and they just become kids.<br />

They giggle and they laugh and they say<br />

silly things.” (“What’s your favorite food?”<br />

and “What’s your favorite animal?” are<br />

probably not common interview questions<br />

for the actors Lollipop works with.)<br />

“The ramping-up process was not an<br />

intention,” says Iocolano. “You focus, you<br />

move forward, and it happens. It’s hard to<br />

say no when you see the effect it has.” And<br />

the effect that it will continue to have—<br />

even as theaters come back, children’s<br />

wards at hospitals won’t be open to outside<br />

visitors due to the immunocompromised<br />

status of their patients. Thus, Lollipop’s<br />

virtual efforts will move on, even once<br />

their in-person events come back. Lollipop<br />

also plans to expand its fundraising<br />

efforts, looking outside the film industry<br />

for donors. “This community will always<br />

support us however they can, but there<br />

are a lot of people who want to be involved<br />

with this industry [and] who want to help.”<br />

Over the next few years, as companies<br />

and industries attempt to bounce back<br />

from the economic impact of Covid-19,<br />

Lollipop will rely on individual donors—“whether<br />

it’s the smaller amounts<br />

that add up, or the higher net worth<br />

individuals who want to give back and see<br />

a difference”—to keep it going strong. “I’m<br />

really hopeful that it’s going to be OK. I<br />

believe in what we do so much, and I think<br />

what’s happened over the past few months<br />

has made me believe in it even stronger. I<br />

can’t imagine other people wouldn’t want<br />

to support it.”<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />


Industry GUEST COLUMN<br />


WIN BACK<br />


AFTER COVID-19<br />


Homebound moviegoers flock<br />

to streaming solutions—but<br />

don't count movie theaters out<br />



The worldwide closure of cinemas<br />

in the wake of the global battle<br />

against the spread of coronavirus and<br />

the confinement of millions around<br />

the world to their homes has led to<br />

an unprecedented increase in the use<br />

of streaming services. The enormous<br />

appetite for streaming content among<br />

homebound audiences has led some<br />

to question whether cinemagoing will<br />

be a thing of the past once Covid-19<br />

is consigned to history. At Elan<br />

Entertainment, owner of Novo Cinemas,<br />

we believe the answer to that question<br />

is an empathetic no, and we point to<br />

lessons from the past, when the survival of<br />

moviegoing was also subject to debate.<br />

The fact is that cinemas and<br />

moviegoing have proven over the years to<br />

be nothing short of super-resilient. When<br />

TV first arrived in peoples’ homes, many<br />

predicted that the days of the big screen<br />

were over. They were proved wrong. Later<br />

came videos and DVDs—and again the<br />

doom-mongers were at work, predicting<br />

the demise of the movie theater. Yet again,<br />

however, news of cinema’s supposed<br />

death proved greatly exaggerated.<br />

Not that the cinema industry ignored<br />

these threats! The industry was aware,<br />

and concerned, about them. What did<br />

change was that the cinema sector upped<br />

its game, luring audiences out of their<br />

homes with vastly improved services<br />

and investments in delivering a more<br />

compelling experience. In came bigger<br />

and more luxurious seating; foyers, which<br />

turned into social meeting points for<br />

friends to share a drink or meal selected<br />

from wider and more exciting menus; the<br />

immersive Imax experience and a much<br />

faster supply chain bringing blockbusters<br />

to market worldwide immediately upon a<br />

film’s release.<br />

Now comes the supposed threat of<br />

streaming services. Again, we are not<br />

ignoring the impact of streaming—<br />

figures show that, worldwide, over just<br />

one weekend of the Covid-19 shutdown,<br />

streaming-service subscriptions jumped<br />

13 percent. Streaming is popular, and the<br />

cinema industry must continue to invest<br />

and innovate to maintain and build on its<br />

own popularity.<br />

Streaming popularity, however, doesn’t<br />

mean people will be less inclined to go<br />

to cinema once the crisis is over. In fact,<br />

a recent study from EY’s Quantitative<br />

Economics and Statistics Group (QUEST)<br />

found that people who go to movies also<br />

more frequently watch streaming content<br />

than those who go to cinemas less often.<br />

The study found, for instance, that<br />

those who visited a cinema nine times or<br />

more over the past year consumed more<br />

streaming content than those who visited<br />

only once or twice over the same period.<br />

Those who saw nine or more movies at<br />

the cinema averaged 11 hours of weekly<br />

streaming compared to the seven hours<br />

of streaming reported on average by<br />

those who went to the movies just once or<br />

twice. This leads us to think that the two<br />

entertainment forms are complementary,<br />

rather than competitive.<br />

Cinema will survive, indeed thrive,<br />

in the post Covid-19 era as people look<br />

to make the most of the freedom and<br />

opportunity to get out and socialize.<br />

Cinemas are great places for families<br />

and groups of friends to enjoy immersive<br />

big-screen experiences together. The EY<br />

Quest survey confirmed cinemagoing as<br />

a favorite among teenagers. Those who<br />

responded to the survey and were between<br />

the ages of 13 and 17 reported going to<br />

an average of 7.3 movies a year while<br />

consuming 9.2 hours of streaming content<br />

each week—the highest of any age group.<br />

Post-crisis, those much-anticipated<br />

movie releases that were put on hold will<br />

flood into cinemas, creating a worldwide<br />

rebound film fest. Crowd pullers that<br />

had their release dates postponed will<br />

be back. These include the latest Bond<br />

movie, No Time to Die, which has had its<br />

release pushed back to November; the<br />

animated comedy Peter Rabbit 2: The<br />

Runaway, initially planned for a spring<br />

release and will now hit our screens at the<br />

end of <strong>August</strong>; and the ninth installment<br />

of the The Fast & the Furious franchise,<br />

which will now be released in April 2021.<br />

But it’s not just superb movies that<br />

audiences can look forward to and that<br />

will keep bookings buoyant—it’s the<br />

continuously evolving cinemagoing<br />

experience that will soon take another<br />

leap forward, leveraging the latest<br />

technological developments such as<br />

artificial intelligence, virtual reality,<br />

and the arrival of 4-D theaters. Ultracomfortable<br />

bespoke cinema experiences<br />

will be the norm, making a visit to the<br />

movies an even greater time out and an<br />

engaging social experience that streaming<br />

just can’t replicate. The experience will<br />

also likely benefit from the introduction of<br />

38 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Photos courtesy Novo Cinemas<br />

complementary attractions like e-sports<br />

and gaming, with their appeal to younger<br />

audiences.<br />

At Elan Entertainment, we are<br />

confident of a post-Covid-19 cinema<br />

resurgence. Novo Cinemas has been<br />

delivering a great time out to Persian<br />

Gulf audiences since 2014, and we have<br />

experience to call on. We have pushed<br />

boundaries, pioneered change, and<br />

consistently striven for the new and next<br />

big thing—and this modus operandi<br />

will continue. We have introduced<br />

evolutionary technologies throughout<br />

the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)<br />

region. Our guests choose from 2-D, 3-D,<br />

4-D, and Imax with laser; benefit from<br />

online booking, e-kiosks, and the first<br />

cinema-dedicated mobile app; and enjoy<br />

luxury seating and the latest food and<br />

beverage trends.<br />

After Covid-19, theaters will be<br />

destinations not just for the latest<br />

international blockbusters but also<br />

“Streaming is popular, and<br />

the cinema industry must<br />

continue to invest and<br />

innovate to maintain and<br />

build on its own popularity.”<br />

for regional premieres and preview<br />

screenings, as well as alternative content<br />

such as live boxing, cricket and football<br />

matches, performing arts masterpieces,<br />

and a wide range of stunning Imax<br />

documentary films. Evolution and<br />

innovation were hallmarks of the<br />

cinemagoing experience before we had<br />

ever heard of the coronavirus. They are<br />

values that will characterize the post-<br />

Covid era as well. Streaming is here to<br />

stay—but the credits are far from rolling<br />

on the cinema experience.<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



‘<br />

60<br />

s<br />



1960s: The collapse of the<br />

studio system<br />


<strong>2020</strong> marks the 100th anniversary of<br />

the founding of <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong>. Though<br />

the publication you hold in your hands<br />

has had different owners, headquarters,<br />

and even names—it was founded in<br />

Kansas City by 18-year-old Ben Shlyen<br />

as The Reel Journal, then called <strong>Boxoffice</strong><br />

in 1933, and more recently <strong>Boxoffice</strong><br />

<strong>Pro</strong>—it has always remained committed<br />

to theatrical exhibition.<br />

From the 1920s to the <strong>2020</strong>s, <strong>Boxoffice</strong><br />

<strong>Pro</strong> has always had one goal: to provide<br />

knowledge and insight to those who bring<br />

movies to the public. Radio, TV, home<br />

video, and streaming have all been perceived<br />

as threats to the theatrical exhibition<br />

industry over the years, but movie<br />

theaters are still here—and so are we.<br />

We at <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong> are devotees<br />

of the exhibition industry, so we couldn’t<br />

resist the excuse of a centennial to<br />

explore our archives. What we found was<br />

not just the story of a magazine, but the<br />

story of an industry—the debates, the<br />

innovations, the concerns, and above<br />

all the beloved movies. We’ll share<br />

our findings in our year-long series,<br />

A Century in Exhibition.<br />

40 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

The studio system that thrived<br />

during Hollywood’s Golden Age died<br />

in the 1960s. Challenges in the form of pay<br />

TV, antitrust legislation, low admissions,<br />

and censorship had worn down the studios<br />

in the previous decade. But the 1960s<br />

brought a new challenge that proved too<br />

difficult to overcome: a society in turmoil.<br />

Classic westerns, patriotic war movies,<br />

family musicals, and biblical epics were<br />

receiving an increasingly tepid reception<br />

at the box office. Unable to comprehend<br />

the tastes of their young audience<br />

during the time of the Vietnam War, the<br />

civil rights movement, and the growing<br />

counterculture, studios were ever more<br />

disconnected from their patrons. There<br />

was one question that veteran studio<br />

executives were no longer able to answer:<br />

What was an American film supposed<br />

to be? As studio films floundered and<br />

aging studio executives lost control of<br />

the industry, foreign and art house films<br />

filled the gap, influencing a generation of<br />

American filmmakers who ushered in the<br />

era of New Hollywood.<br />

Until the 1960s, the industry had<br />

never truly confronted its own racism. In<br />

<strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong>, so-called Negro theaters<br />

were rarely mentioned. From the 1920s<br />

to the 1950s, the magazine published just<br />

one advertisement for a Black-led movie.<br />

One of the ways in which the exhibition<br />

community was forced to come to terms<br />

with the question of race in the 1960s was<br />

the desegregation of movie theaters.<br />

Until the middle of the decade, most<br />

Southern cities practiced segregation in<br />

their movie theaters, either by segregating<br />

individual cinemas—with designated<br />

balconies for Black audiences—or by<br />

having separate cinemas for Black and<br />

white audiences. Black-only theaters,<br />

which were run by African American<br />

managers but often owned by whites,<br />

were less numerous than their white-only<br />

counterparts and mostly ran second- or<br />

third-run films. Some cities, like Charlotte<br />

and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, had no<br />

theaters for Black audiences at all.<br />

As the civil rights movement progressed,<br />

picketing campaigns, mostly led<br />

by students in urban areas of the South,<br />

paved the way for the desegregation of<br />

movie theaters. Major circuits operated by<br />

Loew’s (later Loews), RKO, and Warner—<br />

although desegregated in the North—were<br />

targeted by protestors for policies in<br />

their Southern locations. <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong><br />

documented one of the largest student-led<br />

desegregation campaigns, which saw<br />

approximately 1,500 students march in<br />

Atlanta in February 1961. According to the<br />

magazine, most of Atlanta’s downtown<br />

movie houses began desegregating in<br />

May 1962 by permitting a small number of<br />

African Americans to attend each showing<br />

for a trial period of a handful of weeks, a<br />

strategy used by many Southern theaters<br />

before integrating completely.<br />

In May 1963, Attorney General Robert<br />

Kennedy praised exhibitors for moving<br />

forward with voluntary integration when<br />

he invited influential exhibitors to the<br />

White House, seeking to persuade them to<br />

support President Johnson’s civil rights<br />

legislation. The idea was that voluntary<br />

desegregation of movie theaters, highly<br />

visible hubs in both Black and white<br />

communities, could spill over to other<br />

businesses. <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong> founder and<br />

editor Ben Shlyen commented on the<br />

meeting: “From a humanistic, economic<br />

and political viewpoint, it is seen that<br />

the change called for must be made.” He<br />

added, however, that it could not “be done<br />

on a wholesale basis” due to the potential<br />

for violent outbreaks. “The threat of<br />

legislation to force integration is not the<br />

way to bring about the change called for<br />

by the times and conditions,” he argued.<br />

Overall, the matter of desegregation was<br />

not frequently discussed by the magazine’s<br />

writers. But the publication chose<br />

to publish a letter by a Southern movie<br />

manager in 1963, who wrote: “[The manager]<br />

hears it plenty when he might play a<br />

movie appealing mainly to children, such<br />

as a Walt Disney film. He gets calls from<br />

mothers wanting to know if his theater is<br />

integrated, and if it is, the mother will not<br />

send her child.”<br />

Contrary to what Shlyen thought,<br />

legislation proved the only way to force<br />

compliance. The end of legal segregation<br />

came in July of 1964 with the Civil Rights<br />

Act, and the Congress of Racial Equity<br />

found that all theaters were abiding by the<br />

law that same month.<br />

The civil rights movement also<br />

brought the (still ongoing) question of<br />

minority representation to the attention<br />

of Hollywood. The success of Sidney<br />

Poitier personified the controversy over<br />

the inclusion of African Americans both<br />

on and behind the camera. In 1964, Poitier<br />

became the first Black actor to win an<br />

Academy Award for Best Actor for his role<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



in Lilies of the Field. Writes journalist and<br />

author Mark Harris in his book Pictures at<br />

a Revolution, Poitier was worried that his<br />

win would only lead to complacency, as the<br />

industry would busy itself with self-congratulation<br />

instead of working toward<br />

additional progress. Poitier’s fears proved<br />

correct: he did not get another offer for a<br />

year after winning the Academy Award.<br />

But the actor was also internally<br />

conflicted over the kind of parts he was<br />

playing. Was portraying one-dimensional<br />

Black characters a necessary sacrifice to<br />

open the way for more actors of color in<br />

Hollywood? Some civil rights activists<br />

were indeed condemning the portrayal<br />

of African Americans on the silver screen.<br />

The NAACP led discussions with major<br />

studios to ensure progress on the issues of<br />

job access and on-screen representation.<br />

Other groups, including women and<br />

Latinx communities, began protesting as<br />

well. A 1962 <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong> article reported<br />

that leaders of indigenous peoples<br />

in New Mexico had been “long frustrated<br />

over [their] treatment” in American film<br />

and were planning to open their own<br />

production companies. After the 1968<br />

assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King<br />

Jr., a coalition of industry stars including<br />

Poitier, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, and<br />

Candice Bergen created a nonprofit group<br />

to produce films on racial and social issues.<br />

The proceeds were to go to the Southern<br />

Christian Leadership Conference.<br />

Poitier became the top box office draw<br />

of 1967 with the interracial romantic<br />

comedy Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner<br />

(which became Columbia’s biggest success<br />

to date), To Sir, With Love, and the Oscar-winning<br />

In the Heat of the Night. The<br />

success of these films proved two things:<br />

Black moviegoers could be a lucrative audience,<br />

and films about and starring Black<br />

people could play in the South. Exhibitors<br />

did not accept these truths without resistance.<br />

Some theaters edited moments, like<br />

Poitier and Katharine Houghton’s kiss in<br />

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, out of their<br />

prints. More alarmingly, the KKK picketed,<br />

and even considered planning attacks on,<br />

theaters that played these films.<br />

The new social context created by the<br />

civil rights movement and the counterculture<br />

revolution produced an appetite<br />

among younger audiences for films that<br />

spoke to the reality of the decade. The<br />

catastrophic flops of expensive films<br />

like Cleopatra (1963) and Doctor Dolittle<br />

(1967) proved the desire for something<br />

new. In 1952, the Supreme Court had ruled<br />

that Roberto Rossellini’s The Miracle, a<br />

controversial film that drew criticism from<br />

the Catholic Church, was an artistic work<br />

protected under the First Amendment.<br />

With that decision, the threat of government<br />

censorship was eliminated, opening<br />

the gates for a wave of foreign films that<br />

Black-only theaters, which<br />

were run by African American<br />

managers but often owned<br />

by whites, were less numerous<br />

than their white-only<br />

counterparts and mostly ran<br />

second- or third-run films.<br />

Some cities, like Charlotte and<br />

Chapel Hill, North Carolina,<br />

had no theaters for Black<br />

audiences at all.<br />

42 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

gave young moviegoers what they were<br />

looking for. These films defied taboos and<br />

censorship and embraced an experimental<br />

approach to filmmaking. Among them<br />

were movies hailing from swinging London,<br />

which exported the Bond franchise<br />

and Beatles films—and stars like Sean<br />

Connery, Michael Caine, and Vanessa<br />

Redgrave—to North American audiences.<br />

The French New Wave introduced young<br />

urban intellectual audiences to Truffaut,<br />

Godard, Brigitte Bardot, and Alain Delon.<br />

Italian films propelled Antonioni, Fellini,<br />

Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, and<br />

Gina Lollobrigida to fame.<br />

The foreign craze was evident in the<br />

pages of <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong>. Coverage of<br />

foreign film festivals boomed, as did<br />

editorial by foreign correspondents<br />

and columns like “Tokyo Report” and<br />

“London Report.” In fact, one anonymous<br />

writer reported in 1961 that 70 out of 176<br />

pictures released by 10 companies in the<br />

U.S. between November 1960 and <strong>August</strong><br />

1961 were foreign. By February 1964,<br />

Twentieth-Century-Fox, MGM, Columbia,<br />

and United Artists were leading importers<br />

of foreign films. Smaller players like<br />

Embassy and Janus Films, which imported<br />

the work of Ingmar Bergman, steadily<br />

became more prominent.<br />

It was the first time in Hollywood’s<br />

history that stars and films competed with<br />

their international counterparts. And<br />

Hollywood was scared. A writer summed<br />

up the situation in <strong>August</strong> 1961: “The<br />

foreign invasion appears to be creeping<br />

up on the American production industry<br />

and, in time, may equal it or surpass it.<br />

And from all indications, U.S. companies<br />

will increase their imports in the coming<br />

years. While the top pictures still come out<br />

of Hollywood, the quantity is diminishing.”<br />

The artistic merit of foreign films was often<br />

recognized in the magazine with positive<br />

reviews and the honor of <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong>’s<br />

Blue Ribbon Award, but Shlyen always<br />

encouraged Hollywood to regain its<br />

dominant position.<br />

Art house and specialty theaters thrived<br />

thanks to the influx of foreign films. Leonard<br />

Lightstone, executive vice president at<br />

Embassy, said in 1963 that specialty theaters<br />

were “mushrooming” and becoming<br />

more profitable as foreign films cut costs<br />

and became more flexible in their release<br />

strategies than first-run product. In 1960,<br />

Irving M. Levin, divisional director at San<br />

Francisco Theatres, attributed the proliferation<br />

of foreign films to their universal<br />

appeal and to “the inevitable maturing<br />

of film audiences as the country’s level of<br />

education and appreciation broadens.”<br />

Independent cinemas, like the Bleecker<br />

Street Cinema in Greenwich Village, began<br />

showcasing international films. In April<br />

1967, Shlyen urged exhibitors to “drop the<br />

notion that they must have ‘big box office<br />

The new social context<br />

created by the civil<br />

rights movement and the<br />

counterculture revolution<br />

produced an appetite<br />

among younger audiences<br />

for films that spoke to the<br />

reality of the decade.<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



In 1960, New York became<br />

the first state to establish the<br />

classification “Adult Only”<br />

for moviegoers above 18,<br />

sparking similar bills in other<br />

local legislatures.<br />

product or nothing’” and give smaller<br />

films a chance. Shlyen’s plea came at a<br />

time of declining attendance and frequent<br />

closures of downtown movie houses as<br />

white audiences fled to the suburbs. Some<br />

also found in foreign and art house films<br />

the only way to fight TV. Independent<br />

filmmaker Leonard Hirschfield was reported<br />

saying in 1967, “Today the personal<br />

films are ‘most important’ because people<br />

can see the factory stuff on television.”<br />

Foreign and art house films were<br />

catalysts for the end of censorship and<br />

the revision of the <strong>Pro</strong>duction Code.<br />

Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, which<br />

featured full-frontal female nudity, did<br />

not receive the <strong>Pro</strong>duction Code seal and<br />

was condemned by the National Legion<br />

of Decency. MGM distributed Blow-Up<br />

anyway through its shell company,<br />

Premier <strong>Pro</strong>ductions. Grossing about<br />

$20 million, the film dealt a huge blow to<br />

puritanical attitudes. Foreign films had<br />

effectively created a double standard. As<br />

more theaters showed films without the<br />

<strong>Pro</strong>duction Code seal, nudity became<br />

even more prevalent on-screen, raising<br />

questions about whether children and<br />

families were being driven away. But as<br />

the negative effects of censorship on<br />

creativity—not to mention the box office—<br />

became increasingly apparent, calls for<br />

an age-based classification system, which<br />

would give parents control over what their<br />

children could see, started to gain traction.<br />

In 1960, New York became the first state<br />

to establish the classification “Adult Only”<br />

for moviegoers above 18, sparking similar<br />

bills in other local legislatures.<br />

Six years later, Jack Valenti became<br />

the third president of the MPAA. Valenti<br />

was preoccupied with censorship and the<br />

rising insurrection of Code-challenging<br />

filmmakers from the beginning of his<br />

tenure. In his first few weeks in office,<br />

he revised the Code to include the label<br />

“Suggested for Mature Audiences” on<br />

advertising posters. Shlyen welcomed the<br />

revision and praised Valenti’s “Herculean<br />

feat” for “giving the industry and the<br />

public a Code of Self-Regulation from<br />

which any benefits can be derived, not the<br />

least of which is the better image that so<br />

much is spoken of and which can be the<br />

means for increasing attendance as well<br />

as to revive the custom of multitudes of<br />

lost patrons.”<br />

But foreign films were no longer the<br />

only problem. A year before Valenti’s<br />

hiring, Sidney Lumet’s The Pawnbroker<br />

was approved by the Code despite its<br />

nudity on the grounds of the “high<br />

quality” of the film. The decision created<br />

a loophole: Nudity was tolerable for “good”<br />

films, but not for ordinary ones. Mike<br />

Nichols’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,<br />

which broke barriers with its strong language,<br />

finished what The Pawnbroker had<br />

44 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

started. The National Legion of Decency,<br />

supposedly influenced by Jacqueline<br />

Kennedy, gave the film an endorsement of<br />

“acceptable for adults with reservations.”<br />

Jack Warner released it in 1966 with a<br />

warning that the film was for adults only<br />

and provided individual contracts for<br />

theaters to sign, pledging that they would<br />

not admit any minors. Valenti was forced<br />

to approve the film with a “Suggested for<br />

mature audiences” label.<br />

This became the first step toward<br />

the establishment of the new MPAA<br />

voluntary classification system, enacted<br />

in 1968. Movies were rated G (Suggested<br />

for general audiences), M (Suggested for<br />

mature audiences), R (Persons under 16<br />

not admitted unless accompanied by an<br />

adult), or X (Persons under 16 not admitted).<br />

Valenti declared in <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong><br />

that “the creative filmmaker ought to be<br />

free to make movies for a variety of tastes<br />

and audiences, with a sensitive concern<br />

for children. That’s what this voluntary<br />

film rating plan does—assures freedom of<br />

the screen and at the same time gives full<br />

information to parents so that children<br />

are restricted from certain movies whose<br />

theme, content and treatment might be<br />

beyond their understanding.”<br />

The MPAA and the International Film<br />

Importers and Distributors of America<br />

(IFIDA) were to monitor the ratings<br />

system with the newly formed National<br />

Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).<br />

After calling for a united exhibitor front<br />

for decades, Ben Shlyen’s wishes became<br />

reality with the birth of NATO on January<br />

1, 1966. <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong> followed its inception<br />

closely. In April 1964, the Allied States<br />

Association of Motion Picture Exhibitors<br />

and the Theatre Owners of America agreed<br />

on a merger, talks for which had begun<br />

over a decade before. The challenges<br />

and changes of the 1960s brought an end<br />

to the ideological differences that had<br />

divided the two major exhibitor groups. In<br />

addition to enforcing ratings, in its early<br />

days NATO organized defenses against the<br />

industry’s greatest threats. It campaigned<br />

against the FCC for the regulation of<br />

pay TV, instituted a “movie month” with<br />

discounted prices, and pushed for more<br />

research on patron behavior.<br />

The final nail in the coffin of the studio<br />

system came in 1967. That year, the<br />

Academy Award nominees were four films<br />

representing the new standard of antiestablishment,<br />

more inclusive filmmaking—Bonnie<br />

& Clyde, The Graduate, Guess<br />

Who’s Coming to Dinner, and In the Heat<br />

of the Night—as well as Fox flop Doctor<br />

Dolittle, a film that epitomized the studios’<br />

disconnect from the current culture. The<br />

success of these new types of films was<br />

indisputable. Influenced by European<br />

New Wave cinema, young directors who<br />

had trained in theater and TV like Sidney<br />

Lumet, Arthur Penn, Mike Nichols, Sam<br />

Peckinpah, and John Frankenheimer were<br />

not afraid to take on taboo subjects and<br />

resist the status quo.<br />

While indies like Easy Rider and The<br />

Wild Angels were thriving, the Big Five<br />

were collapsing. Walt Disney had died<br />

suddenly at 55 in 1965, Paramount was<br />

sold to Gulf and Western Industries in<br />

1966, and Warner Bros. sold a third of<br />

its shares to Seven Arts in 1967. MGM<br />

was sold to a Nevada casino millionaire,<br />

Kirk Kerkorian, in 1969. Even United<br />

Artists and Columbia, which had been<br />

taking more risks with independent films,<br />

were shaken. United Artists became a<br />

subsidiary of an insurance company,<br />

Transamerica Corporation, and there were<br />

rumors about a French bank taking over<br />

Columbia. The only Old Hollywood mogul<br />

left was Darryl Zanuck, who remained at<br />

the head of Twentieth-Century-Fox. By<br />

the close of the decade, the golden age of<br />

studios had ended and New Hollywood<br />

was ascendant.<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />





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Trends 48 | Drive-In Summer 62 | Hometown Theaters 70<br />


“It is obvious that the high degree of pent-up demand for<br />

the theatrical experience and need to get out of the house<br />

has exploded, resulting in huge drive-in attendance.”<br />

Drive-In Summer, p. 62<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



THE NEXT<br />

BIG<br />

The reopening effort in the United States<br />

started in Texas, as cinema entertainment<br />

centers—known for having larger sites<br />

that can more easily accommodate social<br />

distancing measures—were among the first<br />

circuits to resume operations. boxoffice<br />

pro takes a look at the origins of the cinema<br />

entertainment center (CEC) trend, one<br />

of the hottest innovations in U.S. exhibition<br />

before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.<br />



48<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

THING<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 49


The late 1990s and early 2000s were<br />

a formative time for the dine-in<br />

theater concept in the United States.<br />

Theaters that offered expanded<br />

concessions, a full kitchen, and waiter<br />

service existed—but not at the scale to<br />

be considered a significant part of the<br />

exhibition market. That started to change<br />

at the turn of the 21st century; Alamo<br />

Drafthouse was founded in 1997, and Studio<br />

Movie Grill launched in 2000. It was around<br />

that time that Jeff Benson, then an auditor<br />

manager at Deloitte, decided to open his<br />

first dine-in movie theater with his wife,<br />

Jamie. Together, the couple developed the<br />

concept that would become Movie Tavern,<br />

launching the brand’s first location in Fort<br />

Worth, Texas, in 2001.<br />

The Bensons sold their interest in<br />

Movie Tavern in 2008. By that time, Movie<br />

Tavern had grown to nearly 100 screens in<br />

five states. The couple was confident that<br />

the dine-in space, by then well established<br />

in Texas, would continue to proliferate<br />

across the country, but they had their<br />

sights trained on something else.<br />

“It was right after we sold Movie Tavern<br />

in 2008 that I started thinking there had<br />

to be something else other than dine-in<br />

theaters. Back then everybody was starting<br />

to get into the dine-in trend. I wanted<br />

to find a new niche,” says Jeff Benson.<br />

Within a year of the Movie Tavern sale, the<br />

Bensons launched Cinergy Entertainment<br />

Group, pioneering their own approach<br />

to what we know today as the cinema<br />

entertainment center (CEC).<br />

A cinema entertainment center is a<br />

general classification that describes any<br />

cinema that incorporates additional experiential<br />

elements—arcades, bowling, laser<br />

tag, virtual reality—into the same complex.<br />

While many cinemas already incorporate<br />

some of these elements, CECs stand out as<br />

large-scale complexes designed to become<br />

out-of-home entertainment hubs.<br />

Cinergy’s first CEC opened in 2009 at a<br />

preexisting building built on spec by the<br />

city of Copperas Cove, in central Texas. “It<br />

had never been occupied in six and a half<br />

years. It was just sitting there, an empty<br />

shell, bigger than what I wanted for my<br />

first eight screens,” says Benson. “That<br />

was really the impetus: I bought a building<br />

that was too big and had to figure out<br />

something to do with the space.”<br />

That same year, Cineplex, Canada’s<br />

leading exhibition circuit, opened its first<br />

Xscape Entertainment Centre. The concept<br />

enhances a cinema’s arcade area to<br />

emphasize the latest video and interactive<br />

games, an ideal attraction for groups and<br />

private parties. Cineplex currently counts<br />

38 Xscape locations in its circuit. These<br />

early concepts from Cinergy and Cineplex<br />

bring to mind family entertainment<br />

centers, like the kid-focused Chuck<br />

E. Cheese or the adult-skewing Dave<br />

& Buster’s. Benson cites the latter as a<br />

particular influence in launching Cinergy.<br />

“We had hired several former Dave &<br />

Buster’s executives at Movie Tavern, and I<br />

would often ask them about that business,”<br />

he says.<br />

Benson also cites Neil Hupfauer,<br />

founder of Main Event Entertainment,<br />

another Dallas company, as an inspiration<br />

in developing Cinergy’s first location.<br />

“Before Main Event you had these cruddy<br />

old arcades and smoky bowling alleys. Neil<br />

was the first guy to revitalize that entire<br />

concept. We started talking over lunch,<br />

and that’s how we came to have our first<br />

cinema entertainment center.” (Hupfauer<br />

served as Cinergy’s interim president and<br />

COO from 2015 to 2017.)<br />

A similar movement was simultaneously<br />

taking place at the other end of the<br />

world. South Korea’s CJ CGV opened its<br />

first multiplex in 1998, helping drive a new<br />

era of moviegoing in its home market. By<br />

2010, the emergence of new technologies<br />

and increased prominence of home-entertainment<br />

platforms pushed the circuit’s<br />

executives to reconsider their growth<br />

strategy for the future. They began to see<br />

the strength of their circuit not in the films<br />

it programmed but in the out-of-home<br />

entertainment experience it offered.<br />

In a keynote address delivered at<br />

CinemaCon 2018, CJ CGV’s CEO, Jung Seo,<br />

explained why the circuit started to shift<br />

its focus away from principally marketing<br />

studio titles and more into branding CJ CGV<br />

as an entertainment venue. “If that’s how<br />

we define ourselves,” as a place for people to<br />

go watch a movie, “then we will constantly<br />

be under the threat of being replaced by<br />

other channels for watching movies or other<br />

forms of entertainment,” he said. “Rather,<br />

the value of CGV is to provide our customers<br />

the most attractive place in which to have a<br />

communal social experience.”<br />

The result was the creation of a new<br />

concept for its cinemas. “Several years ago<br />

we decided to redefine ourselves from being<br />

a multiplex to being a ‘cultureplex,’” said<br />

Previous spread:<br />

Guests at Cinergy<br />

Entertainment Group (top,<br />

bowling) and Cineplex<br />

(bottom left and right,<br />

arcade) CEC locations can<br />

enjoy a wide variety of<br />

attractions along with their<br />

movies. Images courtesy<br />

Cinergy Entertainment<br />

Group and Cineplex<br />

Left: The lobby of CGV’s<br />

cultureplex, whose motto is<br />

“Evolving Beyond Movies,”<br />

courtesy CJ CGV<br />

Right, above: The bar and<br />

bowling areas at ShowBiz<br />

Cinemas, courtesy the<br />

exhibitor<br />

50 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Coming to America<br />

“We envision that the CGV<br />

cultureplex concept has great<br />

potential when entering the U.S.<br />

Although CGV currently operates<br />

only two theaters with 11 screens<br />

in Los Angeles and Buena Park,<br />

California, CGV was able to<br />

introduce innovative cinematic<br />

technologies—4DX and ScreenX—<br />

for the first time in the market.”<br />

—Sunghae Hong, Marketing<br />

Manager, CGV America<br />

Seo. “For us, being a ‘cultureplex’ means<br />

to be a cultural playground, where people<br />

can gather to experience all different types<br />

of culture, from film, music, performances,<br />

games, food, drinks, and so on.”<br />

CJ CGV opened its first cultureplex<br />

location in South Korea, CGV Chungdam, in<br />

2011. The concept has grown alongside the<br />

circuit’s global expansion; today there are<br />

more than 580 cultureplex locations in eight<br />

countries around the world. The company’s<br />

cinema technology arm, CJ 4DPlex, offers<br />

experiential innovations that can be<br />

integrated into cinemas, such as immersive<br />

seating (4DX), panoramic screens (ScreenX),<br />

and virtual reality (4DX VR), to other major<br />

circuits around the world.<br />

Back in the United States, third-generation<br />

exhibition veteran Kevin Mitchell<br />

was similarly looking at ways to expand<br />

the scope of what cinemas could offer<br />

their patrons. “We first started toying<br />

with the idea of adding an entertainment<br />

component that would help us get away<br />

from being a completely product-driven<br />

business when I started [ShowBiz Cinemas]<br />

in 2007,” says Mitchell, who serves<br />

as the circuit’s CEO. Mitchell was interested<br />

in adding another profit center to his<br />

new circuit but was wary of “just slapping<br />

a bowling alley onto a movie theater.”<br />

“We spent a lot of time at the drawing<br />

board pioneering a manageable and<br />

consistently profitable entertainment<br />

destination that incorporated bowling,<br />

arcade gaming, movie auditoriums, a full<br />

bar, and our food and beverage concept<br />

into a unique and cohesive experience for<br />

our customers,” he says. The process was<br />

delayed as the real estate market slowly<br />

recovered from the 2008 recession; it took<br />

time to convince banks and development<br />

partners to invest in innovation in what<br />

was already a mature industry. ShowBiz’s<br />

first Bowling, Movies and More! was<br />

unveiled in Baytown, Texas, in 2015. The<br />

circuit expects to have at least six cinema<br />

entertainment centers in its fleet by the<br />

end of <strong>2020</strong>, with plans to open multiple<br />

additional locations in the coming years.<br />

As with cinema dining in the previous<br />

decade, Texas became a hotbed of<br />

innovation when it came to cinema<br />

entertainment centers throughout the<br />

2010s. Santikos Entertainment, which<br />

operates nine theaters in the San Antonio<br />

area, leveraged its own in-house real estate<br />

team to find and develop the ideal location<br />

for its first CEC. That site, Santikos Casa<br />

Blanca, opened in June 2016 and incorporates<br />

16 lanes of bowling, an arcade, sports<br />

bar, and café. Santikos recently announced<br />

plans to open another CEC in what will be<br />

its 11th San Antonio location.<br />

Evo Entertainment, the brainchild of<br />

Mitchell Roberts, another Texas executive<br />

with deep multigenerational roots in<br />

the industry, opened its first CEC in<br />

November 2014. Located in Kyle, Texas,<br />

the 70,000-square-foot complex houses 11<br />

screens, 14 bowling lanes, a 3,500-squarefoot<br />

game arcade, a bar and grill, and<br />

spaces for parties and corporate events.<br />

Today, Evo has six Texas locations, with<br />

a seventh, in southwest San Antonio (its<br />

largest at 80,000 square feet), scheduled to<br />

open in January 2021.<br />

Its CEC in Schertz, Texas, which opened<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



in March 2019, boasts an outdoor patio<br />

with fire pits and oversized TV screens.<br />

“The goal has always been to turn our<br />

facilities into social destinations where,<br />

whether it’s going to a movie or going to<br />

the family-entertainment-center side,<br />

people are just escaping their daily lives<br />

to hang out and be social. And what better<br />

place to do that in central Texas than<br />

outside on a patio?” Roberts says.<br />

“The beautiful thing about Texas<br />

is that it is such an innovative state<br />

when it comes to our industry,” he says.<br />

“Texas [can be seen] as the birthplace of<br />

dine-in cinema, one of the birthplaces<br />

of the hybrid model. We have a lot of<br />

great operators—and a lot of saturation<br />

in markets with innovative concepts. I<br />

don’t want to say it would be easier to<br />

operate outside of Texas, because I don’t<br />

think that’s the case, but it would be very<br />

beneficial to get outside and see what<br />

the hybrid model can do in markets that<br />

haven’t seen it yet.”<br />

Despite justifiable Texas pride, the CEC<br />

concept has been introduced in new parts<br />

of the United States in recent years. B&B<br />

Theatres had its first internal discussions<br />

about adding a CEC to its circuit as early<br />

as 2013. “There would be conversations<br />

where our CFO said, ‘Look, theaters are<br />

our core competency. Why would we want<br />

to go into a business that we do not have<br />

a core competency in?’ I didn’t have the<br />

data. At that point my argument was, we<br />

just should!” says Dennis McIntire, B&B’s<br />

executive director of development and<br />

construction. “I will tell you right now,<br />

I was right and he was wrong—and I’d<br />

really like for that to get into the article.<br />

If you only quote me once in this story,<br />

‘I was right; he was wrong.’ It took a lot<br />

of conversations to bring everybody on<br />

board.” [Editor’s Note: As someone who<br />

is frequently on the losing end of similar<br />

conversations with a CFO, I have obliged<br />

Mr. McIntire’s request.]<br />

B&B was right to be cautious. Opening<br />

a cinema entertainment center requires<br />

additional investments in time, space,<br />

money, training, and maintenance—on<br />

top of the already straining demands of<br />

operating a cinema. “You need training<br />

programs, manuals, books, procedures,<br />

and processes for everything in the<br />

building,” says Cinergy’s Benson. “There<br />

are different little sub-businesses within<br />

the business. That means having individual<br />

standard operating procedures for<br />

running the ropes course, the ax throwing,<br />

the game room and redemption store, for<br />

running a bar—and, of course, for having<br />

a restaurant. We had to learn all these<br />

different little sub-industries, besides the<br />

food and beverage component. It took<br />

time and a whole lot of money.”<br />

B&B’s McIntire sat down with the different<br />

vendors that would be involved in<br />

running a CEC to get a better understanding<br />

of the numbers behind the business.<br />

Ultimately, with the right numbers and<br />

the support of the executive team and<br />

developer, the circuit decided to commit<br />

to opening its first CEC in its new Ankeny,<br />

Iowa location in 2018. The success of that<br />

52 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

site was proof of concept for B&B Theatres;<br />

the circuit has already announced plans to<br />

add CEC locations to new builds in Kansas<br />

City, Missouri, and Red Oak, Texas, in the<br />

coming months.<br />

Committing to the CEC concept<br />

requires a great deal of space and a certain<br />

amount of flexibility. While a regular cinema<br />

can be housed in a building of around<br />

40,000 square feet, CECs often require<br />

twice as much space to be viable entertainment<br />

destinations. Finding a building big<br />

enough to accommodate entertainment<br />

attractions isn’t enough; its location is also<br />

crucial to the concept’s success. “You can’t<br />

just build this in the middle of a field. You<br />

want the development to come in around<br />

you,” says McIntire. “If you’re working<br />

with a developer who’s just looking to fill<br />

80,000 square feet in a second-tier strip<br />

center, that probably won’t work. This is a<br />

very expensive building, and if you don’t<br />

have the people in the market to support<br />

it, then it doesn’t matter if you build a<br />

cathedral. If there are no parishioners,<br />

there’s nobody coming to church.”<br />

“We’re looking for high-income, but<br />

not too high-income,” says B&B Theatres<br />

executive vice president Brock Bagby<br />

about his circuit’s ideal demographic for<br />

CECs. “We’re targeting young families in<br />

fast-growing markets with continuous<br />

growth. We’re excited about those markets<br />

that are on the edge of a major city and are<br />

exploding. You see that a lot all over the<br />

nation, towns that are an hour from downtown,<br />

but they’re exploding and building<br />

thousands and thousands of new homes.<br />

That’s all driven by young families with<br />

disposable income—not necessarily the ‘1<br />

percent,’ who don’t go out to the movies as<br />

much. Kind of upper middle class; that’s<br />

your target demographic.<br />

“It’s similar to Topgolf’s approach.<br />

There’s only so many in any given market,”<br />

Bagby adds, referring to the trendy entertainment<br />

venues that combine a modified<br />

golf driving range with an adult-orientated<br />

lounge. “We’re looking at a second site in<br />

Des Moines, but we don’t feel like there’s<br />

room for a third or fourth site. Topgolf did<br />

the same thing in Miami. They only have<br />

two locations there. You can definitely<br />

overdo it. You need to know each market.<br />

Because you’re not just building another<br />

movie theater; you’re building something<br />

that you want people to drive to from an<br />

hour away.”<br />

Once a location is secured, its layout<br />

You Are Here<br />

“When we’re relatively busy,<br />

there’ll be a concierge who is just<br />

off the front door. So if anybody<br />

looks lost, if anybody needs help,<br />

we can take care of it right there.<br />

I’ve been into some of these<br />

where you wander in the building<br />

and you don’t know what you’re<br />

supposed to do; there’s no clear<br />

place to buy a ticket; there’s<br />

nobody there to help you. That’s<br />

really off-putting to customers.”<br />

—Dennis McIntire, Executive<br />

Director of Development and<br />

Construction, B&B Theatres<br />

Left: A patio with fire<br />

pits beckons visitors<br />

to Evo Entertainment’s<br />

Schertz, Texas location.<br />

Image courtesy<br />

Evo Entertainment and<br />

5G Studios<br />

Below: The game<br />

room at B&B’s Ankeny,<br />

Iowa complex. Image<br />

courtesy B&B Theatres<br />

plays an outsize role in its eventual earnings,<br />

says Cinergy’s Benson. “People-flow<br />

within the building is critical. In a movie<br />

theater, you come in, you hit the concession<br />

stand or stop by the bathroom on the<br />

way to the auditorium, you leave. With<br />

cinema entertainment centers, you need<br />

to set them up where people can get to the<br />

game room, find the bowling, and stop by<br />

the bar on their way in or out of the auditorium.<br />

I’ve got some that are laid out wrong<br />

and others that are laid out right, and the<br />

percentages of revenue between the two<br />

are radically different from each other.”<br />

“We learned a lot from our Casa Blanca<br />

location. There are things we would have<br />

done differently there,” says Andrew<br />

Brooks, executive director of marketing<br />

and sales at Santikos. The circuit applied<br />

the lessons from its first location in planning<br />

for its second CEC, Santikos Cibolo,<br />

which opened in May 2019. “We moved<br />

some things around, switched some games<br />

to different spots, and it’s been fantastic.<br />

We have a virtual reality area that we can<br />

expand as it grows—or move out if we<br />

need to. We have a 4,000-square-foot,<br />

two-level laser tag that’s been amazingly<br />

successful as we gain traction in team<br />

building and corporate events. We designed<br />

those spaces, keeping in mind that<br />

if they weren’t succeeding or working out,<br />

we could change them into an auditorium<br />

or something else.”<br />

Once a building is laid out, operators<br />

customize their own CEC by selecting<br />

attractions to supplement the movie<br />

theater portion of the building. It takes<br />

diligence to ensure each part of the building<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



COMING<br />


Highlights from Cinema<br />

Entertainment Centers<br />

Arcade<br />

Paper tickets are no longer<br />

required at 21st-century<br />

arcades, where patrons<br />

can win prizes by<br />

redeeming their (digital,<br />

card-based) spoils.<br />

Ax Throwing<br />

It might seem like an<br />

insurance headache, but<br />

this trendy attraction is<br />

low-tech, low-cost, and<br />

popular with patrons.<br />

Bowling<br />

Aside from the movies<br />

themselves, bowling is the<br />

bread and butter of the<br />

CEC concept.<br />

Bumper Cars<br />

You’ll never be part of<br />

Dom Toretto’s family, but<br />

CEC patrons who want a<br />

little bit of that fast and<br />

furious action can try their<br />

hand at bumper cars.<br />

Glow Golf<br />

How do you make golf<br />

more glam? Turn off the<br />

lights and turn up the<br />

neon. All four of FatCats’<br />

CEC locations offer glow<br />

golf—pirate-themed or<br />

space-themed, depending<br />

on the city.<br />

Escape Rooms<br />

This on-trend attraction<br />

prizes teamwork and<br />

puzzle-solving as<br />

groups work together<br />

to solve the mystery of<br />

the escape room.<br />

Laser Tag<br />

Santikos’s second CEC<br />

location, in Cibolo, Texas,<br />

offers Lasertron laser tag<br />

for children and adults<br />

who want a little friendly<br />

competition.<br />

Mini Golf<br />

The classics are classics<br />

for a reason, and mini golf<br />

is still a hit among CEC<br />

patrons.<br />

Karaoke<br />

South Korea loves its<br />

karaoke rooms, a fact that<br />

is well proven at CJ CGV’s<br />

cultureplex model.<br />

Pickleball<br />

With one CEC location<br />

under its belt, B&B<br />

Theatres is planning<br />

to move outdoors—at<br />

least partially—for its<br />

future locations. One of<br />

the attractions will be<br />

pickleball, a racquet sport<br />

that combines elements<br />

of tennis, badminton, and<br />

ping-pong.<br />

Rock Climbing<br />

Work off the calories you<br />

consumed with all that<br />

movie theater popcorn<br />

(no judgment) with Strike<br />

+ Reel’s rock climbing<br />

wall, 24 feet high and lit<br />

by LED lights.<br />

Ropes Course<br />

Strap on a harness and<br />

get your Spider-Man on<br />

(minus web-shooters)<br />

at Strike + Reel’s ropes<br />

course, suspended 20 feet<br />

above the arcade floor.<br />

Virtual Reality<br />

Virtual reality experiences<br />

from companies like The<br />

Void—which has provided<br />

Cineplex’s The Rec Room<br />

with some of its most<br />

popular attractions—can<br />

put guests inside the<br />

world of a number of<br />

blockbuster movies.<br />

is performing to expectations. Cinergy has<br />

kept a close eye on what to incorporate in<br />

its CECs in its 11 years in the sector, always<br />

careful to be flexible and innovative so<br />

nothing inside the building goes stale.<br />

“Back when we started it was all about<br />

bowling, which is still popular, and laser tag,<br />

which we’re moving on from,” says Benson.<br />

“Today you have ax throwing, giant arcade<br />

games, and escape rooms—attractions that<br />

weren’t around even five years ago.”<br />

Benson brings up escape rooms as<br />

an example of a fad that can suddenly<br />

emerge, only to become saturated and<br />

go out of fashion just as quickly as it<br />

came. “Five or six years ago escape<br />

rooms barely existed in this country. At<br />

this point, I wonder if escape rooms<br />

haven’t already run their course—we are<br />

thinking about not including them going<br />

forward,” he says. “At some point it gets<br />

saturated. Movie theaters are hard to<br />

replicate—they’re big and expensive—but<br />

an escape room or ax-throwing business,<br />

they come and go. They can open up in<br />

a retail shop with three or four thousand<br />

square feet on a three-year lease, make<br />

their money while it’s popular, and leave<br />

when it starts to wane. That’s why we need<br />

to continually reprogram our locations<br />

with the latest and greatest concepts;<br />

you never know when three escape-room<br />

places could open around the corner from<br />

you. Before you know it, everybody’s<br />

escape-roomed out [and] your revenue<br />

goes down. That’s a lot of square footage<br />

dedicated to something that doesn’t make<br />

much money anymore. We need to keep<br />

up with all the amusement options out<br />

there to figure out which ones are the best<br />

and how long they might last.”<br />

Kevin Mitchell from ShowBiz Cinemas<br />

recognized that challenge in developing<br />

his circuit’s CEC concept, which is why<br />

he decided to focus on getting the basics<br />

of the building right. “While there are<br />

countless trendy attractions that can<br />

be incorporated into an entertainment<br />

center, we’ve drilled down our focus to<br />

boutique bowling, movies, arcade games,<br />

prize redemption, and food and beverage<br />

concepts,” he says. “We’ve found this<br />

allows us to be really good in those areas<br />

without being solely dependent on a<br />

studio release schedule, and it also allows<br />

us to be a dominating destination zone<br />

for entertainment while maintaining a<br />

manageable footprint that is a good fit for<br />

a variety of markets.”<br />

Right: The Yard<br />

gaming area (top) and<br />

the Three10 restaurant<br />

at Cineplex’s Rec<br />

Room. Image courtesy<br />

Cineplex<br />

54 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Although arcades have been a regular<br />

feature of cinema lobbies for decades,<br />

operating a full-scale game zone with a<br />

redemption center presents a host of new<br />

challenges to operators coming from a<br />

traditional theater background. “In an<br />

arcade, you can have 40 games, and 22 of<br />

them will have some type of mechanism<br />

or play-action where the customer is<br />

throwing, rolling, kicking—doing<br />

something to the machine. It’s going to<br />

break down,” says B&B’s McIntire. “The<br />

balls are going to end up in the wrong spot.<br />

The same applies to bowling: you’ve got a<br />

15-pound ball rolling 25 miles an hour at<br />

10 projectiles. Something’s going to break.<br />

That was our biggest mindset that we had<br />

to get over, that this was going to require a<br />

lot more attention per square foot than any<br />

Ready Player One<br />

“People speak with their dollars.<br />

We know which games are our best<br />

and worst earners, a lot like tracking<br />

the box office. We know what’s<br />

performing and what we need to<br />

replace. Every six months, [when] we<br />

do our game purchases, we’re going<br />

to move out the lowest 10 games<br />

and bring in 10 new games.”<br />

—Jeff Benson, CEO, Cinergy<br />

Entertainment<br />

of our theaters,” he says.<br />

Sarah Van Lange, Cineplex’s executive<br />

director of communications, says one<br />

of the biggest challenges of operating an<br />

arcade at a CEC is “finding the right combination<br />

of games that will continue to<br />

excite our guests every time they visit our<br />

theaters. Fortunately, we have a team of<br />

experts who not only keep up on trends in<br />

amusement gaming but understand which<br />

games will appeal to which demographics,<br />

creating that perfect mix of the latest<br />

high-tech and classic, nostalgia-filled<br />

games,” she says.<br />

Based on the success of its Xscape<br />

concept, Cineplex has incorporated new,<br />

branded locations into its circuit. These<br />

include Playdium, targeted to younger<br />

crowds, where approximately two-thirds<br />

of the complex is dedicated to the latest<br />

amusement games, bowling, and virtual<br />

reality, with the other third offering a range<br />

of on-the-go bites and handcrafted dishes.<br />

Cineplex plans to open 10 to 15 Playdium<br />

locations in midsize communities<br />

throughout Canada this year. The company<br />

also has eight locations of The Rec Room,<br />

family entertainment centers (FEC) without<br />

cinemas that offer food, live entertainment,<br />

amusement gaming, and feature attractions<br />

under one roof.<br />

This past November, Cineplex<br />

announced yet another concept, its<br />

most wide-ranging yet: Junxion. Anne<br />

Fitzgerald, the circuit’s chief legal officer,<br />

describes the concept as “a cross between<br />

the Rec Room experience and the<br />

theater experience, having both in the<br />

same building.”<br />

“Junxion guests will have their pick of<br />

exciting programming and events, including<br />

live music, trivia nights, game nights,<br />

outdoor screenings of movies and live TV<br />

events, and more,” adds Van Lange. The<br />

complex will also feature an arcade with<br />

new and classic video and redemption<br />

games, virtual reality experiences, and a<br />

food hall including an indoor food truck<br />

and a bar selling wine and craft beer.<br />

Cinemas will remain an integral part of<br />

the Junxion concept, including Cineplex’s<br />

UltraAVX premium screens and food and<br />

drink service as viewers relax in their<br />

recliner seats.”<br />

Cineplex plans to roll out the Junxion<br />

concept in Canada in the coming years.<br />

“We will leverage retrofits of our existing<br />

theater network as well as new locations,<br />

including at Kildonan Place in Winnipeg,<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



Virtual Reality<br />

Cineplex is part owner of the<br />

virtual reality provider VRstudios,<br />

and Van Lange says these “hugely<br />

popular” experiences “allow guests<br />

to completely immerse themselves<br />

into new worlds—whether they are<br />

playing as individuals in ATOM<br />

pods, or playing with their friends<br />

as a group in the VRcade area.<br />

One of the most popular offerings<br />

at The Rec Room is the hyperreality<br />

experience, The Void, which<br />

immerses guests in an environment<br />

that includes sight, sound, touch,<br />

smell, and motion.”<br />

Manitoba, and the first Junxion location<br />

at Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga,<br />

Ontario,” says Van Lange.<br />

By adding a cinema component to<br />

its already popular Rec Room concept,<br />

Cineplex’s Junxion idea acknowledges the<br />

drawing power movie theaters retain in<br />

attracting patrons to a CEC. Evo’s Roberts<br />

confirms that the biggest draw at his circuit<br />

continues to be new releases. “People<br />

are still coming in to see movies,” he says,<br />

“but as we’ve continued to improve and<br />

learn the FEC side, we see a significant<br />

amount of traffic that comes from that, too.<br />

They really feed each other.”<br />

The success of film programming has<br />

inspired some traditional FEC operators to<br />

add cinemas to their buildings, approaching<br />

the CEC concept from the other end<br />

of the spectrum. FatCats Entertainment<br />

opened its first FEC in Salt Lake City in<br />

<strong>August</strong> 2001, offering bowling, miniature<br />

glow golf, an arcade, and a bar and grill.<br />

Similar locations followed in <strong>Pro</strong>vo, Utah<br />

(2002); Ogden, Utah (2007); and Westminster,<br />

Colorado (2010).<br />

Business predictably boomed or slowed<br />

depending on the weather. “We had a<br />

pretty profitable business six or seven<br />

months of the year, but during the summer<br />

months, we were giving back most of the<br />

profits that we made during the periods of<br />

time when the weather wasn’t great,” says<br />

co-founder David Rutter.<br />

That’s when FatCats decided to try its<br />

hand at exhibition. In 2010, the company<br />

opened its first cinema in its complex in<br />

Rexburg, Idaho, a renovation of an existing<br />

site. “There was definitely a learning curve<br />

when it came to the intricacies of booking<br />

films, determining the right size and how<br />

many auditoriums, how many seats to<br />

make it work in the most efficient way,”<br />

says Rutter.<br />

That seasonal trend was reversed at the<br />

company’s Gilbert, Arizona location—its<br />

second location to incorporate a cinema—<br />

where the summer heat drives people to<br />

air-conditioned indoor spaces. “We had a<br />

lot of people coming who had no idea about<br />

[the theater],” says Rutter. “It took time to<br />

build that business up. Thank heavens for<br />

Star Wars that winter, in December of 2015.<br />

Most of the other theaters were full and<br />

people realized, ‘I can’t get into my normal<br />

theater, but I guess there’s a theater over<br />

here, so we’ll go check this place out.’ That’s<br />

when the business began to grow.”<br />

56 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Right: The bowling<br />

alley (top) and games<br />

arcade at FatCats.<br />

Image courtesy FatCats<br />

Entertainment<br />

Left, below: Virtual<br />

reality shooters at a<br />

Cinergy CEC. Image<br />

courtesy Cinergy<br />

Entertainment<br />

Since then, FatCats has added cinemas<br />

to its new locations in Saratoga Springs,<br />

Utah, and Mesa, Arizona—and has plans<br />

to make its upcoming location in Queen<br />

Creek, Arizona, a CEC as well.<br />

“The movies really drive [business].<br />

That’s the beauty of it; Hollywood spends<br />

millions of dollars promoting films, and<br />

we’re a place where people can come to<br />

experience that,” says Rutter. He has<br />

observed that once they’re in the building,<br />

patrons are more willing to spend additional<br />

money on the other entertainment<br />

attractions on hand. Evo’s Mitchell<br />

Roberts has the data to back up that assertion:<br />

“We see an average of about three<br />

and a half hours per visit compared to the<br />

traditional cinemas, where we’re seeing<br />

anywhere between an hour and a half to<br />

two hours. People stick around longer.”<br />

A lot more space translates into the<br />

need for a lot more employees. Yet just<br />

because CEC locations are (at least) twice<br />

as big as regular movie theaters, it doesn’t<br />

mean that simply doubling the staff will<br />

suffice. Mark Moore, CEO of Entertainment<br />

<strong>Pro</strong>perties Group, which runs both traditional<br />

FEC brands and a new CEC project<br />

under the Strike + Reel banner in Texas, is<br />

unequivocal about the hardest part of the<br />

business. “The biggest challenge is staffing<br />

a 90,000-square-foot venue,” he says. “A<br />

facility this large has to have an extensive<br />

management team in place.”<br />

B&B’s Brock Bagby cites staffing as<br />

the most unexpected element in his own<br />

circuit’s incursion into the sector. “We’ve<br />

been very surprised at how challenging<br />

it is,” he says. “The amount of payroll ...<br />

you have to staff bowling, the arcade, the<br />

restaurant. [At a regular theater] it’s just<br />

tickets and concessions. Now we’ve got<br />

two full kitchens: one for the theaters, one<br />

for the restaurant. The staffing is more<br />

than double a traditional theater. And the<br />

operations to run these things are just huge.<br />

You’re running three or four businesses<br />

in one. It’s a lot more work than we ever<br />

anticipated, but it’s exciting. … We have 10<br />

managers in our Ankeny location. Ten!”<br />

B&B Theaters went as far as creating a<br />

dedicated team whose sole job is opening<br />

its CEC locations. The circuit has plans to<br />

add five more CECs (which it calls “Luxury<br />

Entertainment Centers”) to its fleet of<br />

cinemas in the coming years. “We’re<br />

taking it a step further with a ropes course,<br />

karaoke rooms, escape rooms, and then<br />

we have an outdoor component that we’re<br />

working on,” says Brock Bagby.<br />

Cinergy, a circuit that exclusively<br />

hosts CECs, counts on a corporate office<br />

of 35 executives to oversee operations for<br />

its five existing locations. “That’s a big<br />

corporate overhead for just five theaters,<br />

but we’re set up to go out and add<br />

probably 10 more over the next few years<br />

without having to add too many more<br />

people,” says Jeff Benson.<br />

Since the trend is still in its relatively<br />

early stages, the potential for nationwide<br />

expansion is vast. Like the dine-in,<br />

recliner, PLF, and VIP auditorium trends<br />

that have come before, the CEC may be<br />

seen as a gimmick today but could quickly<br />

proliferate across the market if the business<br />

model remains strong. Rutter, from FatCats<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



Entertainment, emphasizes the profitability<br />

of attractions that don’t carry sustained<br />

costs. “Our profit margin isn’t as high on<br />

food as it is on, say, bowling or miniature<br />

golf—those kinds of things where you don’t<br />

have an inherent cost of goods that you’ve<br />

got to pay,” he says.<br />

Other factors, such as the rise of the<br />

experience economy—where out-of-home<br />

experiences are considered more valuable<br />

than home-entertainment platforms—or<br />

the increased availability of retail space<br />

as consumers shift their buying habits<br />

online, could become catalysts in the rise<br />

of cinema entertainment centers in the<br />

domestic market.<br />

For an exhibitor like Cinergy, the CEC<br />

concept represents an ideal growth strategy<br />

in today’s era of industry consolidation<br />

among studios and exhibitors—but only<br />

if you use the right tactics. “You want to<br />

maximize gross margin,” says Benson.<br />

“Let’s face it, we don’t make a lot of money<br />

on the movies—we need to split that with<br />

the studios. If someone is going to spend<br />

$10 at my place, where do I want them to<br />

spend it? We focus on the areas we know<br />

can make the most money, and that to me<br />

is where a lot of mistakes are being made<br />

when people say they’re seeing marginal<br />

results from this business. It’s not that the<br />

entertainment concepts are wrong. It’s<br />

likely that the building’s layout has a lot to<br />

do with its performance.”<br />

For Cinergy, CECs have been successful<br />

because the concept is consistently<br />

updated and refined; passing fads are<br />

avoided. That sort of big-picture approach<br />

stands in stark contrast to the day-to-day<br />

operations of a traditional movie theater,<br />

where a cyclical release calendar requires<br />

less hands-on attention by management.<br />

“That’s the thing about movies: They<br />

reprogram themselves every week. It’s<br />

always fresh,” says Benson. “You reinvest<br />

in regular theaters with new technologies<br />

like digital projectors and recliners, but<br />

the content changes every week. That’s not<br />

the case in an entertainment center. You<br />

need to continually reinvest and update<br />

the other half of your building, the half<br />

without a movie theater, to make sure your<br />

revenue isn’t declining each year.”<br />

If tackled correctly, cinema entertainment<br />

centers can help distinguish a<br />

circuit’s identity and help define its brand<br />

as a unique out-of-home-entertainment<br />

destination. For a circuit like ShowBiz<br />

Cinema Entertainment Centers<br />

and the Experience Economy<br />

“[On social media] we highlight<br />

what we call the Evo experience,<br />

or the evolution of entertainment.<br />

It’s really just people having fun in<br />

the numerous ways that they can,<br />

because what we’re all about is<br />

making memories. That’s pretty easy<br />

to show, people having fun and<br />

creating memories. That’s primarily<br />

how we promote. Beyond that, we<br />

rely on word of mouth: ‘Come and<br />

have a great time and share with<br />

your friends—Hey, you should really<br />

check this place out!’”<br />

—Mitchell Roberts, CEO, Evo<br />

Entertainment<br />

58 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Cinemas, which operates both traditional<br />

theaters and CECs, it represents a great<br />

opportunity in the coming decade. “We’ve<br />

had great success with our Bowling, Movies<br />

and More! concept since opening our<br />

first location. We are finding new ways to<br />

improve it with each new facility we build,”<br />

says Mitchell. “These buildings are expensive<br />

to build and very labor intensive, and<br />

we continue to look for ways to improve in<br />

those areas without sacrificing quality.”<br />

Around 56 percent of the ShowBiz<br />

circuit incorporates entertainment<br />

components that its traditional theaters<br />

don’t offer. ShowBiz is introducing its CEC<br />

concept to the renovation of its Waxahachie,<br />

Texas location—and will bring<br />

Bowling, Movies and More! to a new site<br />

in Idaho Falls, Idaho, scheduled to open in<br />

December. By the end of <strong>2020</strong>, it expects<br />

cinema entertainment centers to comprise<br />

70 percent of its total footprint.<br />

“As we continue to grow, our Bowling,<br />

Movies and More! entertainment-center<br />

concept is driving the entire ShowBiz<br />

brand,” he adds. “We’ve been very pleased<br />

with the success of this concept, and all<br />

of our new builds going forward will be<br />

with our signature entertainment-center<br />

concept. We’re in rapid growth mode right<br />

now and will be opening multiple [CEC]<br />

locations across the country annually.”<br />

For a circuit like Cinergy, refining<br />

and perfecting the CEC concept is a<br />

long-term commitment—not only to its<br />

customers, but to staying a step ahead of<br />

its competitors. In December, the circuit<br />

announced its Amarillo, Texas location<br />

(opened in 2018) had been honored as the<br />

world’s top family entertainment center at<br />

the annual convention of the International<br />

Association of Amusement Parks and<br />

Attractions (IAAPA). More than 120 judges<br />

participated in selecting the winner from<br />

among IAAPA’s 5,300 members, representing<br />

over 100 countries.<br />

As the trend continues to grow beyond<br />

Texas, Benson is more determined than<br />

ever to continue thriving in the business.<br />

“It’s still early. You’re seeing larger circuits<br />

like B&B Theatres building some of these<br />

centers, but most big circuits haven’t<br />

delved into it deeply yet,” he says. “What<br />

you see now is similar to what was going<br />

on in the early days of dine-in, where you<br />

have the smaller independents that are<br />

more flexible with their business models<br />

taking the risk and adopting these concepts.<br />

I think you’re going to see a whole<br />

lot more of them. I wish I could say we’re<br />

the only ones doing this. We know we<br />

aren’t, and that’s OK. We want to pick our<br />

locations strategically and build as many<br />

as we can, as fast as we can.”<br />



So You Want to Open Your Own<br />

Cinema Entertainment Center?<br />

“Don’t start a new company without having<br />

some form of existing cash flow, for starters.<br />

We made a lot of mistakes starting off and<br />

will more than likely make a few more along<br />

the way, but the key is to minimize those<br />

mistakes and learn from all of them. If you<br />

are not making mistakes, then you are<br />

probably not taking risks. My dad taught me<br />

long ago that sometimes you have to climb<br />

out on that limb, because that is where the<br />

fruit is.”<br />

—Kevin Mitchell, President & CEO, ShowBiz<br />

Cinemas<br />

“Listen to the experts. One of the first<br />

things we did when we decided we were<br />

going to do this was engage a consultant<br />

in the FEC industry. We know theaters, and<br />

it drives us crazy when people get into the<br />

theater businesses saying, ‘Well, how hard<br />

can it be?’ When you slow down and you<br />

bring in somebody with the expertise, listen<br />

to them. We come with 95 years of theater<br />

experience, and I can tell you that there<br />

were times when it was unspoken, but<br />

we thought, ‘Oh, we know how to do that<br />

better than they do.’ And those were the<br />

things that ended up biting us.”<br />

—Dennis McIntire, Executive Director of<br />

Development and Construction, B&B<br />

Theatres<br />

“A lot of it is Basic Management 101.<br />

You’ve got to have the right people in the<br />

right places—and we didn’t, not at first.<br />

We ended up having to spend a lot to get<br />

the right management team, which we<br />

now have.”<br />

—Jeff Benson, CEO, Cinergy Entertainment<br />

“As with any new entertainment<br />

venture, there will be growing pains.<br />

Communication and positivity with your<br />

team are key to keep the focus on the big<br />

picture while knocking out the punch list<br />

one item at a time. Don’t forget that the<br />

goal is to provide fun for your guests and<br />

have fun while doing it.”<br />

—Mark Moore, CEO, Entertainment <strong>Pro</strong>perties<br />

Group<br />

Left: Young basketball<br />

hotshots at B&B’s Ankeny,<br />

Iowa location. Image<br />

courtesy B&B Theatres<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />




Independent movie theater<br />

marquees during the pause<br />

The Loft Cinema, Photo by Tim Fuller<br />

North Park Theatre<br />

The World Theatre (at Night), Photo by Bryce Jensen<br />

60 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Music Box, Photo by Ari Neiditz<br />

Coolidge Corner Theatre<br />

Hollywood Theatre Portland, Photo by Dan Halsted<br />

Plaza Theatre, Photo by CJ Swank<br />

Colonial Theatre, Photo by LuAnn Roth<br />

The Frida Cinema, Image courtesy of The Frida Cinema<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />


Theater DRIVE-IN SUMMER<br />

DRIVE-IN<br />

SUMMER<br />

With movie theaters forced to close their<br />

doors, the drive-in once again became the<br />

main attraction for summer movie audiences<br />


62 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Photo courtesy IFC Films<br />

As people around the world became<br />

better acquainted with their living<br />

rooms, those who ventured outside did<br />

so by adhering to the two most important<br />

words of the pandemic: social distancing.<br />

Drive-in cinemas emerged as one of the<br />

few outdoor entertainment options where<br />

people could confidently congregate<br />

while maintaining a safe distance. With<br />

approximately 330 drive-in locations in<br />

the United States, those with existing<br />

lots opened their doors as soon as they<br />

could, while others took creative routes to<br />

welcome back audiences. In this anthology<br />

of our digital coverage, we look at how the<br />

moviegoing summer of <strong>2020</strong> brought about<br />

the resurgence of drive-in culture.<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />


Theater DRIVE-IN SUMMER<br />


Originally published on May 7, <strong>2020</strong><br />

With most U.S. theaters shuttered due to<br />

the novel coronavirus pandemic, some<br />

exhibitors have devised innovative<br />

solutions to keep their businesses afloat<br />

during the shutdown. For some, like the<br />

Florida-based chain Epic Theatres, those<br />

solutions have included temporary—and<br />

often highly improvised—conversions to<br />

the once-voguish drive-in format.<br />

“We pulled an old screen out of storage<br />

and built a frame from PVC pipe, [then]<br />

hung the screen over the side of our<br />

largest auditorium wall,” says Epic<br />

Theatres co-owner and I.T. director<br />

Weegee DeMarsh, who, along with his<br />

brother and co-owner, Joe DeMarsh,<br />

opened a pop-up drive-in at Epic’s Deltona<br />

location on March 20. Though they were<br />

later forced to remove the screen due to<br />

forecasted summer rains, the DeMarshes<br />

didn’t let that stop them. In a decidedly<br />

makeshift but highly effective solution,<br />

they proceeded to paint the auditorium<br />

wall white. “That has worked out nicely,”<br />

says Weegee. So nicely, in fact, that Epic<br />

has since duplicated the formula at its<br />

Clermont and St. <strong>August</strong>ine locations.<br />

Though drive-in conversions remain<br />

exceedingly rare—indeed, many U.S.<br />

states won’t allow them during the<br />

pandemic—their implementation<br />

has become increasingly common<br />

as struggling theaters scramble for<br />

ways to generate revenue amid the<br />

unprecedented shutdown.<br />

That said, pop-up drive-ins (as they<br />

have come to be known) aren’t a feasible<br />

solution for every theater. In addition<br />

to the often-insurmountable financial<br />

costs involved, there are logistical<br />

considerations to account for. As<br />

Entertainment Supply & Technologies’<br />

vice president of technology sales Scott<br />

McCallum tells <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong>, the close<br />

proximity of many theaters to shopping<br />

centers and other businesses that use<br />

bright, automatic security lights after dark<br />

can make operating these ad hoc drive-ins<br />

an all but impossible challenge.<br />

“Light and outdoor movies are not fans<br />

of one another,” says McCallum, who is<br />

currently assisting a number of theaters<br />

with drive-in conversions. “And that<br />

becomes a challenge if you’re a theater in<br />

a shopping mall. You know, you’ve got all<br />

the ambient light around. Or if you’re next<br />

to a car dealership or whatnot. Traditional<br />

drive-ins have been in remote areas on the<br />

outskirts of town.”<br />

For theaters looking to hire out<br />

companies like Entertainment Supply<br />

& Technologies for their drive-in<br />

conversions, the cost can be prohibitive.<br />

The FM broadcast equipment required<br />

to play sound through hundreds of car<br />

speakers can run between $5,000 and<br />

$10,000, says McCallum. Add a projector<br />

into the mix, and you’re out another<br />

$6,000 to $7,000. For those who request<br />

the full package—including proper<br />

screens, metal frames, servers, sanitary<br />

products, and more—the cost could run<br />

anywhere between $50,000 and $100,00<br />

at the high end, according to informal<br />

estimates provided by McCallum and<br />

Alex Younger, CEO of cinema solutions<br />

company CES+.<br />

In the event a theater decides to move<br />

forward with a conversion, time can also<br />

become an issue, says Younger, who as of<br />

last week had sent out 11 pop-up drive-in<br />

proposals to theaters in both the U.S. and<br />

Latin America.<br />

“Some of these factories, they’re closed<br />

too, so it [becomes] a supply chain game<br />

where, what can we count on from the<br />

vendors?” says Younger. “It’s difficult to<br />

move and operate. We’ve run into those<br />

hiccups where [suppliers say], ‘Oh, I don’t<br />

have product.’”<br />

With theaters looking at a potential<br />

delay of weeks, if not months, due<br />

to supply chain issues, cinemas—<br />

particularly those operating in colder<br />

64 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

climates—may already be running out of<br />

time, says Younger. “In some cases,” he<br />

adds, “we [may have] to develop our own<br />

equipment to sell to them.”<br />

Even once a conversion is completed<br />

successfully, there are other issues to<br />

contend with. During a pandemic, safety<br />

is paramount, and each drive-in is forced<br />

to follow guidelines set down by state and<br />

local officials. Eric Hansen, a consultant<br />

who has assisted with makeshift, low-cost<br />

drive-in conversions at Aspen Cinemas in<br />

Evanston, Wyoming, and Water Gardens<br />

Cinema in Pleasant Grove, Utah (both of<br />

which cost in the $2,000–$3,000 range),<br />

says regulations can often be strict.<br />

“When we first announced this thing, we<br />

wanted to make sure that we had all of those<br />

things kind of ironed out,” says Hansen,<br />

who notes that each of the two theaters he<br />

works with typically dedicates “one or two”<br />

employees to parking lot supervision. “If<br />

you go to the Evanston [theater’s] website,<br />

they have a drive-in information page that’s<br />

dedicated to all of the rules. We are pretty<br />

strict with all that. You know, you have to<br />

stay in your car. You can’t get in the bed of<br />

your truck, you can’t open the hatches of<br />

your vehicle, things like that.”<br />

These restrictions can make allimportant<br />

concession sales into<br />

something of an ordeal. Hansen notes<br />

that while both the Evanston and Pleasant<br />

Grove drive-ins have set up concession<br />

systems via an online store—through<br />

which customers can place orders for<br />

snacks before texting a dedicated phone<br />

number to indicate where they’re parked—<br />

food deliveries (handed out driver-side by<br />

employees outfitted in masks and gloves)<br />

can take a long time to get to customers.<br />

That can lead to some frustration on the<br />

part of both customers and employees.<br />

“On our busy days, it takes a little bit<br />

longer because of the logistics behind<br />

it all,” says Hansen, who pauses before<br />

continuing dryly: “We’ll be grateful when<br />

we don’t have to do that anymore, let’s put<br />

it that way. It’s kind of a pain.”<br />

Another significant issue to consider<br />

is how best to provide bathrooms for<br />

customers in a time of physical-distancing<br />

mandates. While both Hansen and the<br />

DeMarshes tell <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong> they’re<br />

offering access to their theaters’ indoor<br />

bathrooms during screenings, only one<br />

group or individual is allowed in at a time,<br />

and six feet of space is mandated between<br />

each person or group waiting in line. That<br />

can result in longer wait times for facilities.<br />

Parking lot sizes are also an important<br />

factor to consider for theaters mulling<br />

a conversion. Some, like all three Epic<br />

Theatres locations, can accommodate<br />

only small crowds (the Deltona and<br />

St. <strong>August</strong>ine locations fit only 113 and<br />

75 cars, respectively). Others, like EVO<br />

Entertainment Group’s locations in<br />

both Schertz and Kyle, Texas (both of<br />

which reopened indoor operations with a<br />

limited capacity on Monday, May 4, while<br />

continuing to operate their pop-up driveins),<br />

get more bang for their buck; the<br />

Schertz location alone has managed to<br />

accommodate nearly 1,600 vehicles for a<br />

single showing.<br />

Despite the logistical hurdles, once<br />

installed, the concept has been taking<br />

hold in many communities—not only<br />

providing out-of-home entertainment<br />

for the quarantined populous, but<br />

allowing theaters to keep employees on<br />

staff. (Hansen tells us the Evanston and<br />

Pleasant Grove theaters have actually<br />

hired extra staff to deal with the extra,<br />

pandemic-compounded burdens that<br />

stem from the drive-in format.) Several<br />

of EVO’s drive-in screenings have been<br />

complete sellouts, leading the company<br />

to ponder keeping them in operation even<br />

once the pandemic has subsided.<br />

“We see the EVO drive-in concept<br />

as becoming a regular component of<br />

our alternative programming, even<br />

after the environment shifts back to<br />

normalcy,” says EVO Entertainment<br />

Group CEO Mitchell Roberts, who says<br />

the only outside equipment the company<br />

purchased for their conversions were FM<br />

transmitters (everything else was either<br />

custom made or came from in-house).<br />

“However, our primary focus will be<br />

reopening our in-venue experiences and<br />

implementing our new operating plans<br />

with enhanced safety measures.”<br />

As Roberts indicates, these conversions<br />

may not be the future of moviegoing<br />

in the U.S., but drive-ins (both pop-up<br />

and traditional) are in higher demand<br />

than they have been in decades—and<br />

they could stick around beyond the<br />

scope of the pandemic, particularly if<br />

fears of contagion continue to linger.<br />

As McCallum notes, drive-ins showing<br />

retro content licensed from the studios—<br />

popular titles include such films as<br />

Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Harry<br />

Potter, Jaws, and Grease—can also offer a<br />

nostalgic pull for some, adding an extra<br />

layer to the experience.<br />

“I think people will remember when<br />

they were kids going to the drive-ins,” he<br />

says. Still, in his estimation, the format’s<br />

appeal will remain limited if studios’<br />

theatrical release slates remain empty<br />

throughout the summer season—and<br />

perhaps even beyond that.<br />

“If there’s no blockbuster content<br />

available to draw the crowds in this summer,<br />

if it’s pushed off till the fall or to the<br />

holidays, that doesn’t help,” says McCallum.<br />

“Retro [movies are] nostalgic and fun, but<br />

they need the Star Wars or the Wonder<br />

Womans. That draws people into drive-ins<br />

just like it does into the regular theaters.”<br />

Left, top and bottom:<br />

Texas-based Evo<br />

Entertainment hosts a<br />

drive-in evening in the<br />

parking lot of one of its<br />

locations. Photo courtesy<br />

Evo Entertainment.<br />

Despite the logistical<br />

hurdles, once installed, the<br />

concept has been taking<br />

hold in many communities—<br />

not only providing out-ofhome<br />

entertainment for the<br />

quarantined populous, but<br />

allowing theaters to keep<br />

employees on staff.<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />


Theater DRIVE-IN SUMMER<br />

Left: The B&B Twin Drive-<br />

In in Independence,<br />

Missouri. Photo courtesy<br />

B&B Theatres<br />

Right: The Showcase<br />

Drive-In at Patriot<br />

Place in Foxborough,<br />

Massachusetts (top),<br />

photo courtesy Showcase<br />

Cinemas. The Malco<br />

Summer Drive-In in<br />

Memphis, Tennessee,<br />

photo courtesy Malco<br />

Theatres<br />





Originally published on June 24, <strong>2020</strong><br />

On May 30, Showcase Cinemas opened<br />

a “pop-up” drive-in theater at its<br />

Patriot Place location in Foxborough,<br />

Massachusetts, with a screening of Steven<br />

Spielberg’s 1981 classic Raiders of the Lost<br />

Ark. The sold-out event—which doubled<br />

as a fundraiser for the local Foxboro Food<br />

Pantry—amounted to a full-circle moment<br />

for the exhibitor, which was one of the first<br />

chains to embrace the drive-in concept<br />

beginning in the late 1930s.<br />

“It’s interesting that Showcase is<br />

starting out with a drive-in as part of our<br />

reopening, because it’s part of our DNA<br />

and our history,” says Mark Malinowski,<br />

Showcase’s vice president of global<br />

marketing. In addition to establishing one<br />

of the country’s first drive-ins—the nowdefunct<br />

Sunrise Drive-In on Long Island,<br />

which opened in 1938 with a screening<br />

of the Jimmy Durante musical Start<br />

Cheering—several of its current hardtop<br />

locations, including Legacy Place in<br />

Dedham, Massachusetts, and the Cinema<br />

de Lux in Revere, Massachusetts, were<br />

originally launched as drive-in venues.<br />

The current resurgence of the drive-in<br />

format is a phenomenon that would have<br />

been inconceivable just a few months<br />

ago. But with the coronavirus continuing<br />

to circulate widely in the U.S. more than<br />

three months into the pandemic, and<br />

with the majority of hard-top theaters<br />

remaining shuttered, drive-ins remain the<br />

only moviegoing option in many areas<br />

of the country. That reality is about to<br />

change, however—and for major chains<br />

now prepping for a reopening of their<br />

indoor locations for the first time since<br />

mid-March, “pop-up” drive-ins are being<br />

viewed as a transitional step, allowing<br />

them to test out safety protocols before<br />

top-tier studio releases including Mulan,<br />

Tenet, and Bill & Ted Face the Music are<br />

unleashed in theaters.<br />

Marcus Theatres has been dabbling<br />

in the “parking lot cinema” concept<br />

even more extensively than Showcase.<br />

The country’s fourth-largest exhibitor<br />

currently operates pop-up drive-ins at<br />

five locations: Elgin in Illinois, Majestic of<br />

Brookfield and South Shore in Wisconsin,<br />

Pickerington in Ohio, and Twin Creek in<br />

Nebraska. Marcus CEO and president (and<br />

current NATO vice chairman) Rolando<br />

Rodriguez says that one of the first of<br />

these to open, Twin Creek in the town of<br />

Bellevue, saw sellouts in its first 10 days of<br />

operation—a turnout he believes speaks<br />

to a “pent-up” demand from moviegoers<br />

who have been barred from entering<br />

their local multiplexes for months. “I<br />

think people are ready to go back to some<br />

level of normalcy,” he says. “And I feel<br />

confident that we’re going to be providing<br />

that as an industry.”<br />

When asked to list some of the<br />

challenges of operating these pop-up<br />

locations—each of which took roughly a<br />

week to set up—Rodriguez employed the<br />

more optimistic phrase “key learnings” to<br />

discuss the inevitable logistical hurdles<br />

that came with the process. Among them:<br />

dealing with the “ingress and egress” of<br />

vehicles into and out of the parking lot;<br />

ensuring all cars are parked 15 minutes<br />

before showtime to avoid disturbances<br />

from latecomers; and effectively educating<br />

guests on how to preorder tickets and<br />

concessions online.<br />

More importantly for Rodriguez, the<br />

pop-ups have given Marcus Theatres<br />

the opportunity to test out many of the<br />

health and safety protocols the company<br />

has been developing over the last several<br />

months. “[We want] to make sure that<br />

when we reopen our regular theaters, a lot<br />

of these plans that we’ve been working on<br />

will be not only good plans, but executable<br />

plans,” he says. Though there are certain<br />

components of the new guidelines that<br />

can only be tested indoors, a number of<br />

procedures—including the use of masks,<br />

social distancing markers, placement of<br />

sanitation stations and the concessions<br />

66 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

preordering system—have been put into<br />

practice at the drive-ins, allowing the<br />

company to conduct a trial run before it<br />

executes a full-scale reopening.<br />

Showcase, too, used its single popup<br />

drive-in as a run-through for the<br />

company’s “Be Showcase Safe” initiative,<br />

which includes a new ticketing and<br />

concessions preorder function on its<br />

website and app to facilitate no-contact<br />

payments. “This was our first time<br />

testing it out, kicking the tires on it,” says<br />

Malinowski, “and it worked really well.”<br />

Large chains are also testing health<br />

and safety protocols at traditional<br />

drive-ins. B&B Theatres, which operates<br />

drive-in theaters in the towns of Moberly<br />

and Independence, Missouri, has put<br />

social distancing measures in place at<br />

its two outdoor locations, eliminated<br />

cash transactions, and reduced contact<br />

between guests and employees at<br />

the box office and concession areas.<br />

Malco Theatres has employed similar<br />

measures at its Summer Drive-In theater<br />

in Memphis, including limiting guest<br />

capacity to 50 percent.<br />

Representatives for Marcus, Malco,<br />

B&B, and Showcase all claim that<br />

attendance has been strong at both their<br />

pop-up and traditional drive-ins, though<br />

just how eager moviegoers are to return<br />

to hard-top locations—even once brandnew<br />

blockbuster titles begin populating<br />

multiplexes—remains an open question.<br />

Some people we spoke to pushed back on<br />

the idea that audiences will require much<br />

of an incentive to return at all.<br />

“I don’t think it is a matter of easing<br />

movie fans back into coming to the<br />

movies,” Malco Theatres’ senior vice<br />

president of film and marketing Jeff<br />

Kaufman told <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong> via email.<br />

“It is obvious that the high degree of pentup<br />

demand for the theatrical experience<br />

and need to get out of the house has<br />

exploded, resulting in huge drive-in<br />

attendance. People still love movies, and<br />

we are grateful they are putting their<br />

money where their fandom is.”<br />

Those sentiments were echoed by<br />

B&B Theatres director of publicity Paul<br />

Farnsworth, who added, “While our drivein<br />

operations did provide us the means<br />

of presenting the public with some of our<br />

revised cleaning and social distancing<br />

protocols, I’m not sure that our guests<br />

will need an ‘easing back in’ outside of<br />

the parameters established by local and<br />

“It is obvious that the high<br />

degree of pent-up demand<br />

for the theatrical experience<br />

and need to get out of<br />

the house has exploded,<br />

resulting in huge drive-in<br />

attendance.“<br />

regional health authorities. In other words,<br />

we feel and hope that our guests will<br />

come back to cinemas once cinemas are<br />

reopened and won’t require much in the<br />

way of re-acclimation.”<br />

Rodriguez was more measured when<br />

asked whether drive-ins are a way of<br />

mitigating anxieties for guests who may<br />

be nervous about returning to indoor<br />

locations—not to mention a reminder of<br />

the value of moviegoing for those who<br />

have been relegated to watching films at<br />

home for the past several months.<br />

“Think about this—our industry has<br />

been pretty much shut down now for<br />

almost three months,” he says. “So for<br />

us, it was an important aspect to keep<br />

connected with our guests and the<br />

importance and the fun of moviegoing<br />

and entertainment value associated with<br />

it.” To accommodate guests who aren’t<br />

yet comfortable watching movies in an<br />

indoor theater, he adds, the company is<br />

considering keeping its pop-up driveins<br />

operational even once its hard-top<br />

locations open for business.<br />

Of course, reopening plans for<br />

exhibitors across the country are highly<br />

dependent upon major studios providing<br />

new content—and with only a few highprofile<br />

films slated for release over the<br />

next several months, all eyes are on<br />

Disney (Mulan), Warner Bros. (Tenet),<br />

and others to follow through on those<br />

plans. All exhibitor representatives<br />

interviewed for this story expressed<br />

confidence that the studios will keep<br />

their remaining summer releases on<br />

the calendar, but if coronavirus cases<br />

begin to spike in a substantial way—a<br />

phenomenon already being observed in<br />

states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida—<br />

reopening plans could be further delayed<br />

in some areas.<br />

“Let’s hope to God that that does<br />

not happen—not just for the sake<br />

of our industry but the sake of our<br />

country,” says Rodriguez, who didn’t<br />

rule out the possibility of opening more<br />

pop-up drive-in locations if indoor<br />

reopening plans get pushed back in<br />

some communities. And if they do?<br />

“Obviously, there are different ways to<br />

provide that entertainment experience<br />

during difficult times,” Rodriguez adds.<br />

“What you’ve seen is we can be creative<br />

and certainly adapt to whatever those<br />

situations might become.”<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />


Theater DRIVE-IN SUMMER<br />





Originally published on June 18, <strong>2020</strong><br />

In an unprecedented spring season that<br />

saw the shuttering of hard-top theaters, a<br />

release slate emptied of major studio films,<br />

and the improbable resurgence of driveins,<br />

an unlikely hit emerged: IFC Films’<br />

The Wretched, a low-budget horror film<br />

about a young boy who is terrorized by a<br />

thousand-year-old witch. Through the<br />

end of its seventh weekend, the creature<br />

feature had brought in a cool $1.37 million,<br />

mainly from outdoor theaters, making<br />

it arguably the first drive-in hit of the<br />

modern era.<br />

“Horror films in general have such<br />

a long history of being at the drivein,”<br />

Jasper Basch, director of sales and<br />

distribution at IFC Films, tells <strong>Boxoffice</strong><br />

<strong>Pro</strong>. “This is just a continuation of a triedand-true<br />

tradition.”<br />

A lack of competition didn’t hurt. When<br />

the major studios cleared their theatrical<br />

slates during the spring months due to<br />

“Cinemas are there for<br />

every type of film, every<br />

type of genre, but I think<br />

drive-ins specifically<br />

imply the popcorn movie<br />

that everybody can go<br />

see together and have a<br />

good time.”<br />

Covid-19, it created a fertile landscape for<br />

an indie title like The Wretched to break<br />

through. The film’s largely positive critical<br />

reception (74% on Rotten Tomatoes) and<br />

strong word of mouth also played a role in<br />

its popularity. “I think a lot of [the success]<br />

has to do with the film itself,” Basch adds.<br />

“A good movie is always going to find its<br />

audience—I’m a true believer about that.”<br />

Needless to say, The Wretched directors<br />

Drew and Brett Pierce couldn’t have<br />

predicted that their film would be released<br />

in the middle of a pandemic—nor that it<br />

would lend itself so well to a format they<br />

never expected to screen it in.<br />

“We didn’t realize that we were making<br />

the perfect drive-in movie,” says Drew,<br />

who co-directed one previous feature with<br />

Brett—the 2011 zombie film Deadheads.<br />

By the brothers’ own admission, The<br />

Wretched isn’t “art house” horror. Rather,<br />

it’s a fun, old-fashioned creature feature<br />

that falls squarely within the tradition of<br />

drive-in hits of yore.<br />

“I think drive-ins are associated with<br />

escapism and a good time,” says Brett.<br />

“Cinemas are there for every type of film,<br />

every type of genre, but I think drive-ins<br />

specifically imply the popcorn movie that<br />

68 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

everybody can go see together and have a<br />

good time.”<br />

The Pierces do admit to one drawback<br />

of the drive-in format: The audio, mixed<br />

in 7.1 by sound designer Eliot Connors,<br />

gets lost when it’s played over a standard<br />

car stereo. But that’s just one downside<br />

among many advantages, including<br />

the ability of the directors—who have<br />

watched the film multiple times at Los<br />

Angeles–area drive-ins—to hear the<br />

audience’s feedback in real time, just by<br />

rolling down their windows.<br />

“We love hearing random people react<br />

to the movie,” says Drew, who adds that in<br />

pre-Covid times, “usually we [would] go<br />

hide out in the bathroom, because that’s<br />

where people say what they really think of<br />

[the movie].”<br />

For IFC, The Wretched has allowed<br />

the independent distributor to forge<br />

relationships with drive-in owners that<br />

Basch hopes will pay further dividends<br />

down the line. “All the [drive-ins] we’re in<br />

are new customers to IFC, and we had to<br />

build those relationships,” he says, noting<br />

that drive-ins typically don’t program new,<br />

independent releases.<br />

If nothing else, The Wretched’s sleeper<br />

success proves that even in the bleakest of<br />

times, audiences remain hungry for the<br />

theatrical experience. “When the virus<br />

started becoming more of an actuality, I<br />

think there were a lot of questions as to<br />

what the future would look like,” Basch<br />

says. “The thought of grossing a million<br />

dollars theatrically, that’s nothing I would<br />

have ever been able to predict.”<br />

Far left: The Wretched,<br />

an IFC Films release.<br />

Photo courtesy IFC Films<br />

Left: The Galaxy Drive-<br />

In Theater in Ennis, Texas<br />

(top). Additional stills<br />

from The Wretched, an<br />

IFC Films release. Photos<br />

courtesy IFC Films<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />





Movie theaters aren’t just places to watch movies—<br />

they’re also places to form relationships, spend time with<br />

family, or just escape from the world for a few hours.<br />

They’re as much a part of our lives as they are a meeting<br />

place in our communities. As theaters around the world<br />

begin to reopen, the staff of <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong> share<br />

memories of their own hometown movie theaters.<br />

Daniel Loría, Editorial Director<br />

Cinemark 12 Plaza Boulevares<br />

[Today: Cinemex Boulevares Querétaro]<br />

Querétaro, Mexico<br />

The first multiplex opened in my<br />

hometown in 1996. There must have been<br />

fewer than a handful of twin cinemas<br />

operating in Querétaro before Cinemark<br />

opened that multiplex: a brand-new<br />

12-screen facility, one of their first outside<br />

the United States.<br />

That movie theater changed something<br />

in the city. Back then, our soccer team<br />

was either out of business or in the second<br />

division, and there wasn’t much else to<br />

do. And everything about that theater<br />

was unique and innovative at the time,<br />

from the lobby to the concessions stand<br />

and auditoriums—it was the only cinema<br />

in town that didn’t have intermissions.<br />

I’d go with my friends midweek (2-for-1<br />

admission) and with my family on the<br />

weekend. Sometimes I’d end up seeing the<br />

same movie twice in the same week.<br />

The first movie I saw there was<br />

Dracula: Dead and Loving It, starring<br />

Leslie Nielsen. I also remember watching<br />

That Thing You Do! with a friend who later<br />

started his own band in middle school;<br />

Jack, and thinking it was so bad that the<br />

rest of the director’s movies probably<br />

sucked, too; buying a commemorative<br />

soda cup for Independence Day on<br />

opening night; Mars Attacks, Mission:<br />

Impossible, The Rock … I must have seen<br />

“Every time I return the city<br />

looks less familiar; I can’t<br />

help but remember it the<br />

way it was during our last<br />

year living there.”<br />

every studio title exported to Mexico<br />

between the summers of ’96 and ’97 in that<br />

theater. I’d ride my bike to the newsstand<br />

near my house and buy the latest issues of<br />

Cine Premiere and Cinemanía to find out<br />

about the coming releases. My romance<br />

with moviegoing began in that theater.<br />

The multiplex opened around the<br />

same time that Carrefour unveiled the<br />

city’s first large-scale supermarket; I was<br />

11 years old, and all of a sudden there were<br />

foreign companies investing in Querétaro,<br />

and introducing modern retail concepts.<br />

The great novella Las batallas en el<br />

desierto by José Emilio Pacheco touches<br />

on the theme of a rapidly changing<br />

Mexico and how modernization brings<br />

a simultaneous sense of excitement<br />

and nostalgic anxiety. We moved out of<br />

Querétaro in the fall of 1997. Every time<br />

I return the city looks less familiar; I<br />

can’t help but remember it the way it was<br />

during our last year living there.<br />

Despite all the changes to the city, that<br />

movie theater is still there. Cinemark sold<br />

its Mexico locations to Cinemex back in<br />

2012, and while the branding is different, a<br />

lot of the structural details remain. When<br />

my parents moved back to Querétaro, they<br />

moved to a house six blocks from the<br />

cinema. I still visit it, not to see a movie<br />

but mostly to reassure myself it’s still there.<br />

On a recent trip, a security guard spotted<br />

me taking some pictures of the lobby and<br />

sternly asked what I was doing. I couldn’t<br />

come up with a succinct explanation.<br />

70 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



Rebecca Pahle, Deputy Editor<br />

Palace Stadium 12<br />

and Movies at the Lake<br />

Cornelius, North Carolina<br />

The Movies @ Birkdale<br />

[Today: Regal Birkdale & RPX]<br />

Huntersville, North Carolina<br />

For the last 12 years of my life, I’ve lived<br />

in New York. It’s a city with no shortage<br />

of movie theaters, even though they all<br />

happen to be closed for the moment. When<br />

the Covid crisis is over, I know that I—along<br />

with many, many other people—will count<br />

going to the movies among my very first<br />

activities. I may not know what movies will<br />

be playing whenever the marquees light<br />

up again, but I’m already dreaming of the<br />

concessions I’m going to get. The thought<br />

of popcorn at the IFC Center, tater tots<br />

and cheese at the Nitehawk, and a boozy<br />

milkshake at Alamo Drafthouse’s Brooklyn<br />

location is getting me through some tough<br />

times. (Look, I never claimed “healthy” to<br />

be among the attributes I look for in movie<br />

theater concessions.)<br />

Before I lived in New York, I grew up<br />

in Charlotte, North Carolina—first the<br />

city itself and then, from middle school<br />

through college, in the town of Cornelius,<br />

about 20 minutes north. My fondest<br />

moviegoing memories from childhood are<br />

tied to details of the theatrical experience.<br />

At 7, feeling scandalized when my aunt<br />

snuck Burger King Whoppers into the<br />

theater when she took us to see Hook. At<br />

8, getting to Aladdin so close to showtime<br />

that my family and I had to sit in the front<br />

row, but being so transfixed by the movie<br />

that I didn’t even notice the crick in my<br />

neck. Lining up for midnight screenings<br />

of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings; the<br />

excitement I felt in my stomach was very<br />

real but not quite enough to keep me from<br />

gobbling down handfuls of popcorn.<br />

The theaters I went to were typical<br />

suburban multiplexes of the closing years<br />

of the 20th century. They didn’t have<br />

premium large-format screens, recliners,<br />

or dine-in menus. Looking back, they<br />

weren’t particularly “special.” One of<br />

them had a party room that I hardly saw<br />

anyone use; another may have had a claw<br />

machine. But they felt special to me. They<br />

gave me a treat, a solace, a way to bond<br />

with my family. They introduced me to my<br />

love of movies and set me on the career<br />

path I still travel today.<br />

“When we lose theaters,<br />

we don’t just lose bricks and<br />

metal. We don’t just lose<br />

movies. We lose memory,<br />

spirit, and family. We lose<br />

a second home.”<br />

They are also, for the most part, closed.<br />

The first theater that felt like it was truly<br />

mine was called Movies at the Lake. It<br />

opened its doors, and a shopping center<br />

built up around it. Now that area is bustling<br />

and built-up, but Movies at the Lake isn’t<br />

there. It closed in 2004 and became a<br />

Nascar store (hey, North Carolina).<br />

Then there was Palace Stadium 12,<br />

which, for a reason I was never quite able<br />

to figure out, was decorated to look like an<br />

Egyptian temple. It closed suddenly after<br />

three years and stood abandoned for over<br />

a decade until a church moved in. (They<br />

did not keep the decorations.) Movies @<br />

Birkdale—now Regal Birkdale & RPX—<br />

opened when I was a junior in high school,<br />

just in time for me to see Moulin Rouge<br />

there four times. (Musical geeks circa the<br />

early 2000s know what’s up.)<br />

Traveling back home from New York<br />

to see my family, I would make a point<br />

of going back to Birkdale if I could.<br />

Christmas afternoon, in particular, was<br />

a designated movie time for the Pahle<br />

household. But driving past Movies at<br />

the Lake and the Palace always made me<br />

sad. Their familiar façades said “movie<br />

theater,” but they lacked the magic that<br />

had made them so much more than mere<br />

buildings. When we lose theaters, we don’t<br />

just lose bricks and metal. We don’t just<br />

lose movies. We lose memory, spirit, and<br />

family. We lose a second home.<br />

Shawn Robbins, Chief Analyst<br />

Carmike Highland<br />

[Today: AMC Classic Highland 12]<br />

Cookeville, Tennessee<br />

AMC Dine-In Thoroughbred 20<br />

Franklin, Tennessee<br />

My earliest days of moviegoing took place<br />

at Carmike’s Highland in Cookeville,<br />

Tennessee, which grew from four to 10<br />

to 12 screens as I grew up. It’s the theater<br />

my father took me to as a kid, and the<br />

one my friends and I congregated at<br />

regularly throughout high school and<br />

college, creating the foundation for my<br />

obsession with cinema. Having lived closer<br />

to Nashville for over a decade now, I tend<br />

to consider the AMC Thoroughbred in<br />

Franklin my home base. My wife and I will<br />

venture out to other Nashville-area venues,<br />

like Regal’s Opry Mills location, to check<br />

out its largest-in-the-area Imax screen or<br />

meet family and friends, but I’ve seen more<br />

films at the Thoroughbred than anywhere<br />

72 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

else. Their Dolby Cinema auditorium<br />

provides one of the flat-out best theatrical<br />

experiences in this part of the country.<br />

Kevin Lally, Executive Editor<br />

Clairidge Theatre<br />

[Today: Bow Tie Clairidge Cinemas]<br />

and the Wellmont Theatre<br />

Montclair, New Jersey<br />

Fox Theatre and Oritani Theatre<br />

Hackensack, New Jersey<br />

Growing up in Bergen County, New<br />

Jersey, one of the most densely populated<br />

counties in the nation, I never realized<br />

how good I had it as a young moviegoer.<br />

It was a short bus ride to New York City’s<br />

Radio City Music Hall, the fabled art deco<br />

entertainment showplace, where your ticket<br />

often got you both a movie and a stage<br />

show. (My first movie there: That Darn Cat!<br />

starring Hayley Mills and Dean Jones.)<br />

But Bergen County also had its own<br />

wonderful movie palaces. In those days<br />

of exclusive road show engagements that<br />

could last for months, even a year, the<br />

movie mecca was Montclair, New Jersey,<br />

with its two huge movie palaces, the<br />

Clairidge and the Wellmont, both opened<br />

in 1922. It was in Montclair—a half-hour<br />

drive from my hometown of Dumont—<br />

that I saw the Oscar-winning musicals My<br />

Fair Lady and The Sound of Music before<br />

they finally branched out to more towns.<br />

Today, the Wellmont is a live-performance<br />

venue, and the Clairidge is a six-plex<br />

operated by Bow Tie Cinemas.<br />

The next tier down in my area of Bergen<br />

County was Hackensack. That town with<br />

the odd name boasted not one but two<br />

bona fide movie palaces, the Fox and the<br />

Oritani, right across from each other on<br />

Main Street. Named for a local Indian<br />

chief, the Oritani opened on May 6, 1926,<br />

with a double bill of Lady Windermere’s<br />

Fan and Nobody’s Business, according to<br />

the invaluable website Cinema Treasures.<br />

Five years later, the art deco Fox debuted<br />

with Jackie Coogan in Huckleberry Finn.<br />

The Fox held more than 2,200 seats, the<br />

Oritani 1,800, and both were beautiful,<br />

ornate temples from a bygone age. I saw<br />

many movies there—the most indelible is<br />

watching Stanley Kramer’s all-star comedy<br />

extravaganza It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad<br />

World on the Oritani’s huge screen at age 11<br />

and laughing so hysterically at the brutal<br />

fire escape climax my parents almost took<br />

me out of the theater.<br />

“I never realized how good I<br />

had it as a young moviegoer.<br />

It was a short bus ride to New<br />

York City’s Radio City Music<br />

Hall, the fabled art deco<br />

entertainment showplace,<br />

where your ticket often got<br />

you both a movie and a<br />

stage show.”<br />

Sadly, these two New Jersey gems are no<br />

more. According to Cinema Treasures, the<br />

Fox’s last first-run film was Jaws 2 in 1980,<br />

and it was torn down in 1998. The Oritani’s<br />

auditorium was demolished in 1985.<br />

My hometown, Dumont, did not<br />

have its own movie theater. The closest<br />

was in neighboring Bergenfield: the<br />

Palace, which seemed an inapt name<br />

after enjoying the wonders of the Fox and<br />

the Oritani. There I saw many a Disney<br />

cartoon and live-action comedy. In<br />

retrospect, the onetime Spanish Baroque<br />

vaudeville house probably was a palace<br />

by current standards; today it’s a fivescreen<br />

theater, formerly owned by Bow Tie<br />

Cinemas and now independently operated.<br />

Jesse Rifkin, Analyst<br />

AMC Georgetown 14<br />

Washington, D.C.<br />

I perform every Friday and Saturday night<br />

at a piano bar in the Georgetown area<br />

of Washington, D.C. Only a few hundred<br />

feet away is the AMC Georgetown, where<br />

I attend a movie almost every Friday or<br />

Saturday night, two or three hours before<br />

my gig. Since it’s located in one of the<br />

nicer areas of the nation’s capital, there’s<br />

always the possibility of running into a<br />

major political figure. There was always<br />

a small but possible chance I might run<br />

into Dick Cheney when I saw Vice there, or<br />

Ruth Bader Ginsburg when I saw On the<br />

Basis of Sex. I mean, I didn’t. But there was<br />

still the chance.<br />

Chris Eggertsen, Analyst<br />

Century 8<br />

[Today: Cinemark Century Cinema 16]<br />

Mountain View, California<br />

I grew up in Ventura, California, about<br />

an hour north of L.A. Many of my most<br />

formative moviegoing experiences were<br />

at the Century 8 (it would eventually<br />

expand and be known as Century Cinema<br />

16 under Cinemark), a pink palace of a<br />

multiplex that has since shut down and<br />

been taken over by a church (!). I worked<br />

there over the summer between my junior<br />

and senior years of high school and spent<br />

many long nights scooping popcorn<br />

into bags, pulling questionable items<br />

out of cup holders, and being accosted<br />

by customers who were livid over the<br />

concession prices. Oh, what I wouldn’t do<br />

to have those days back!<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />






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Filmmaker Interview 76 | Coming Attractions 88 | Long-Range Forecast 100 | Booking Guide 105<br />


Photo credit: Dean Rogers. Courtesy Searchlight Pictures<br />

“I’ve always been a huge Dickens fan. I reread the book<br />

about 10 years ago, and I was struck by how absolutely<br />

contemporary it felt. It felt so modern.”<br />

The Personal History of David Copperfield, p. 82<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />





A Quiet Place Part II sound<br />

editors speak up<br />


76 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

At the end of the day, it’s about the<br />

relationships you have.” Fandango’s vice<br />

president of domestic ticketing, Melissa<br />

Heller, says relationships are key to<br />

every facet of what she does—her own<br />

relationships with mentors and other<br />

industry professionals in addition to the<br />

relationships Fandango itself cultivates<br />

with exhibitors, studios, and of course the<br />

all-important moviegoer.<br />

Heller grew up in a “tiny, tiny town in<br />

Northern California,” where the closest<br />

theater—Coast Cinemas in Fort Bragg, still<br />

in operation—was an hour away. From<br />

the beginning, going to the movies was “a<br />

big deal. … When we got the opportunity<br />

to do it, it was one of those life-changing<br />

miracle moments.” (An early moviegoing<br />

experience that’s stuck with Heller: going<br />

to the Coast with her best friend to see<br />

Babe.) “Sharing those movie moments<br />

with my best friend, enjoying candy, and<br />

feeling like we were there on that farm<br />

with a talking pig … does life get any better<br />

than that?” No, it does not.<br />

While Heller has always known the<br />

magic of moviegoing, she “stumbled<br />

into” the job of providing that magic for<br />

other people. In college, Heller studied<br />

business and economics, which took her<br />

to a job at Quantum Loyalty Solutions. A<br />

“rewards and incentives firm,” Quantum<br />

Loyalty Solutions partnered with studios,<br />

exhibitors, and outside companies to<br />

offer “Hollywood Movie Money” to<br />

consumers. Fandango, looking to beef up<br />

its own promotions operations, acquired<br />

Quantum in 2015, rebranding the service<br />

as Fandango Rewards. “At the time, there<br />

was an ask to relocate to Los Angeles<br />

and join the core exhibitor relations and<br />

ticketing commerce team,” recalls Heller.<br />

“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. It was<br />

a personal and professional challenge—<br />

an opportunity to grow and learn from<br />

incredible people. So, despite my fears of<br />

L.A. traffic, I decided to move. And [now]<br />

I’m here to stay.”<br />

One of those “incredible people”<br />

Heller learned from was Fandango’s<br />

chief commercial officer and executive<br />

vice president Kevin Shepela. “Since the<br />

day I started at Fandango, Kevin always<br />

challenged me to think more broadly,<br />

to look at strategy and align decisions<br />

accordingly, to ask questions, to think<br />

bigger. He supported me doubling down<br />

and getting my MBA along the way, no<br />

matter what it took. All in support of me as<br />

a person first, and an employee second.”<br />

While Heller has benefited from<br />

structured mentorship programs, she cites<br />

informal mentorship as the thing that’s<br />

helped her professional growth the most.<br />

“It’s just seeing how people work with each<br />

other: ‘Oh, wow, that’s how she responded<br />

to a really hard question. That’s what I<br />

want to do the next time I’m in a position<br />

like that.’ Or: ‘That was a really unique way<br />

to tackle that problem.’ Just really being<br />

able to learn, and not sit at your desk with<br />

your headphones on, answering emails. It’s<br />

really about absorbing the people around<br />

you. Inside [Fandango], outside, all over the<br />

industry. It’s actively listening and figuring<br />

out what your style is, not mimicking<br />

someone else.”<br />

One of these informal mentors was<br />

Heller’s mother, who, as a co-owner of<br />

a construction company, “excelled in a<br />

heavily male-dominated industry, keeping<br />

her focus on creating houses that became<br />

homes and meeting every challenge along<br />

the way. She is an advocate for women in<br />

her industry, and it is empowering to see<br />

her help showcase others. She showed me<br />

how a rising tide lifts all boats.” Fandango<br />

embodies that spirit, Heller explains,<br />

through their chapter of TechWomen, an<br />

initiative geared toward supporting the<br />

next generation of women working in<br />

STEM (science, technology, engineering,<br />

and mathematics) fields. Fandango’s<br />

TechWomen chapter, founded by director<br />

of project management Shanit DeLuca<br />

and director of software engineering Rema<br />

Morgan-Aluko, provides professional<br />

development for the women of Fandango.<br />

“It is exhilarating to see progress on this<br />

level. I’m hopeful for the future.”<br />

As for what the future holds for digital<br />

ticketing in general, it’s hard to say, if not<br />

impossible, and “that’s the fun challenge”<br />

for Heller. The growth of digital ticketing<br />

has been both massive and relatively<br />

rapid; Heller recalls that the year she<br />

joined Quantum Loyalty Solutions, 2007,<br />

was the year the first iPhone came out.<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



Behind Simon and Garfunkel, the<br />

second most famous duo associated<br />

with “the sounds of silence” may be Erik<br />

Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn. The sound<br />

editors sculpted the auditory environment<br />

of 2018’s breakout horror-drama A Quiet<br />

Place, about a family of four attempting to<br />

silently survive a world overrun by blind<br />

predatory creatures with acute hearing.<br />

The pair earned an Academy Award<br />

nomination for Best Sound Editing for<br />

their work.<br />

The duo returns for director John<br />

Krasinski’s sequel, A Quiet Place Part II.<br />

A Quiet Place, more than perhaps any<br />

other film in recent memory, elicited<br />

nearly total silence in the theater.<br />

Moviegoers wouldn’t so much as<br />

open their soda bottles. Did you keep<br />

that in mind when doing the sound<br />

design?<br />

Ethan Van der Ryn: It was a question in<br />

our minds the whole time, when we were<br />

mixing and designing the sound during<br />

the original: Would people be able to stay<br />

quiet enough for the film to actually work?<br />

If people are making too much sound,<br />

they’re going to obliterate the story and<br />

the experience, which requires people to<br />

be completely silent. It was an experiment,<br />

in a way, whether or not that could work.<br />

Fortunately, it did.<br />

Erik Aadahl: Our goal was really to make<br />

the audience an active participant in the<br />

movie, putting the audience in the shoes<br />

of the character. When Emily Blunt’s<br />

character, Evelyn, is holding her breath,<br />

trying not to make a noise, ideally we’d<br />

have the audience do the exact same thing.<br />

We didn’t really know if the whole thing<br />

would work until we premiered it at South<br />

by Southwest. A packed auditorium and<br />

the audience just went with it. They were<br />

holding their breath until the very end.<br />

It was such a vindication for this crazy<br />

experiment.<br />

What was similar or different about<br />

working on the sequel versus the<br />

original?<br />

Van der Ryn: In the first one, we were<br />

setting up this whole universe where<br />

creatures have taken control of the earth.<br />

78 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Left: Evelyn (Emily<br />

Blunt) and Marcus<br />

(Noah Jupe) in A Quiet<br />

Place Part II<br />

All images:<br />

Jonny Cournoyer,<br />

© Paramount Pictures,<br />

All Rights Reserved<br />

Humanity has had to adapt to be able to<br />

survive, by staying silent. We worked on<br />

creating and setting up all the rules of this<br />

whole universe. Obviously, with this one,<br />

because it’s a direct continuation of the<br />

story, we have this established set of rules<br />

in which to start playing. We don’t have<br />

to start from the ground up to create the<br />

universe. It’s been created, so we can just<br />

take off from there.<br />

Aadahl: The last film was so successful,<br />

we feel like we caught lightning in a bottle.<br />

So the challenge is how do we top it? How<br />

do we take it even further? Not just repeat<br />

ourselves, but create a new experience<br />

that’s going to be even more effective. That<br />

was the challenge for everybody involved<br />

with the film, not just for us in sound<br />

design, but [director] John [Krasinski] and<br />

the incredible cast.<br />

So how did you try to top it?<br />

Aadahl: If the first film was more<br />

intimate, this film definitely expands<br />

beyond the borders of the farm and the<br />

homestead. We’re exploring the world a<br />

little bit more. [The trailer opens with the<br />

family speeding down a street as dozens<br />

around flee on foot, already showing<br />

more people in one scene than the first<br />

film did in total.] The first film opens a<br />

certain time after the invasion, but in this<br />

[film] we get a glimpse of day one. That<br />

was pretty fun to work on. Our challenge<br />

as a sound designer is, how do we expand<br />

upon the vocabulary and behavior of these<br />

creatures, go deeper with it? There were<br />

a lot more moments where we could play<br />

with that tension.<br />

What was the hardest individual<br />

sound to create?<br />

Van der Ryn: With the first film, we<br />

had to invent the creature sounds from<br />

scratch—something nobody had ever<br />

heard before, reverse engineering their<br />

biology. Knowing that they use sound to<br />

navigate the world, that they’re blind, we<br />

developed their palette of sound based on<br />

other living creatures that have a similar<br />

use of sound to navigate the world. For<br />

example, animals with echolocation or<br />

sonar. It was quite an experiment, going<br />

through and trying things, playing with<br />

sounds of dolphins and whales and<br />

bats. All of them use a similar clicking<br />

to reflect objects in their environment,<br />

so through sound they can paint a<br />

three-dimensional map. Eventually, we<br />

stumbled upon a stun gun, which had<br />

this really creepy alien feel. It was an<br />

electric Taser, essentially, that became<br />

the spine of our echolocation sound.<br />

“When Emily Blunt’s<br />

character, Evelyn, is holding<br />

her breath, trying not to<br />

make a noise, ideally we’d<br />

have the audience do the<br />

exact same thing.”<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



Above: Regan<br />

(Millicent Simmonds),<br />

Marcus (Noah Jupe),<br />

and Evelyn (Emily<br />

Blunt) brave the<br />

unknown in A Quiet<br />

Place Part II<br />

Right: Director John<br />

Krasinski, Noah Jupe,<br />

and Emily Blunt on<br />

the set of Paramount<br />

Pictures’ A Quiet Place<br />

Part II<br />

“One of the unique things<br />

we experienced with the<br />

first A Quiet Place was that<br />

it really brought back the<br />

idea of cinemagoing as a<br />

communal experience.”<br />

Van der Ryn: We were playing around<br />

with this stun gun, trying to use it on<br />

different props that we had lying around<br />

our studio. There were some grapes sitting<br />

on a table in the kitchen. We tried it<br />

against the grapes and got the best sound.<br />

Grapes have a thin skin and fleshy interior,<br />

similar to humans. So that ended up being<br />

what we used. We just stumbled into that<br />

by accident. That’s why this is a great job!<br />

Play is required.<br />

What’s the strangest thing you’ve<br />

ever done to create a sound in a<br />

movie?<br />

Aadahl: I was working with Ethan on<br />

the first Transformers. We’d had a late<br />

night and I pulled into my driveway at<br />

home. I stepped out of the car and a<br />

garden hose was lying out. I stepped on it<br />

in such a way that the liquid in the hose<br />

made a gurgly sound. It almost sounded<br />

like a creature. I grabbed the garden<br />

hose, pulled it inside into the bathtub,<br />

started recording it, and those became<br />

the splatty vocals for Bumblebee in all<br />

the Transformers movies. If your ears are<br />

open, magic can happen.<br />

How did the sound team work<br />

with Marco Beltrami on the score?<br />

[Beltrami, who also scored the first<br />

film, is a two-time Academy Award<br />

nominee for The Hurt Locker and the<br />

3:10 to Yuma remake.]<br />

Van der Ryn: We love working with<br />

Marco. He just has such a big-picture,<br />

holistic sense of the film. He’s very<br />

gracious with not just where to play music,<br />

but where not to play music, so we can<br />

get really, really quiet, make the audience<br />

lean in and hold their breath. He’s doing<br />

a gorgeous job expanding on the musical<br />

themes of the first film.<br />

There’s a beautiful scene in the first<br />

film where Lee and Evelyn slow dance<br />

to the song Harvest Moon by Neil<br />

Young, listening through earbuds<br />

so they won’t attract the creatures.<br />

Whose decision was that—yours, the<br />

music supervisor’s, Krasinski’s?<br />

Van der Ryn: That’s John Krasinski, all<br />

the way. He wrote that into the script,<br />

specifically to be that song. He talked<br />

about it a little bit with us. The song was<br />

80 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

expensive, but it was important to him<br />

that it be that song specifically. It was<br />

worth securing the rights to use it and<br />

paying the money. For a lower-budget film<br />

to spend that kind of money on one song<br />

was obviously a pretty big deal.<br />

Aadahl: That song has special<br />

significance for him and his wife, Emily.<br />

That’s a scene that’s based on their reallife<br />

relationship.<br />

Between the two of you, you’ve<br />

won or been nominated for multiple<br />

awards, including the Oscars. [The<br />

pair has been nominated jointly for<br />

Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Argo,<br />

and the first A Quiet Place]. What’s<br />

your best awards show story?<br />

Van der Ryn: My favorite awards<br />

experience was at the BAFTA Awards<br />

[in Britain]. I took my mom. As we were<br />

walking to the ball afterwards, all the<br />

photographers there started calling out,<br />

“Dame Judi! Dame Judi!” They thought<br />

my mom was Dame Judi Dench. So she<br />

started posing!<br />

Aadahl: Before the Oscars, there’s<br />

the nominees’ luncheon. As my date, I<br />

brought my godmother. She lives in<br />

Washington state; she has nothing to do<br />

with Hollywood. We were standing next<br />

to Glenn Close, who’s her favorite actress<br />

of all time. She was just freaking out on<br />

me. “Can I take a picture?” It was fun to<br />

experience it through her eyes.<br />

Why is it important to see A Quiet<br />

Place Part II in a cinema?<br />

Van der Ryn: One of the unique things<br />

we experienced with the first A Quiet Place<br />

was that it really brought back the idea of<br />

cinemagoing as a communal experience.<br />

It became such an interactive experience,<br />

where audiences were required to be<br />

completely silent in order for the movie to<br />

work. Hundreds of people were gathered<br />

together in this temple of cinema, being<br />

hushed, not talking. That’s such a special<br />

experience to have in this age of streaming.<br />

Aadahl: We got a lot of feedback after<br />

the first film, people mentioning that<br />

after they saw it in a theater, after the<br />

end credits, they heard the world in a<br />

completely new way. The sounds of traffic,<br />

the city. They were almost overwhelmed<br />

with the reality of sound in the world after<br />

having gone through this experience of<br />

A Quiet Place. I think it would be a very<br />

different experience to watch it on Bluray<br />

in your home, when there might be a<br />

washing machine going.<br />


With Erik Aadahl and<br />

Ethan Van der Ryn<br />

What is your all-time favorite moviegoing<br />

memory or experience?<br />

Aadahl: I grew up in the Bay Area. My<br />

parents took me to my very first movie when<br />

I was about 5 or 6 years old. It was E.T. on<br />

a big, beautiful 70-millimeter screen. That<br />

was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. I<br />

still remember that feeling of “Whoa!” This<br />

big theater, that giant screen. The movie<br />

moved me so much. I was crying when E.T.<br />

was dying. My parents were concerned that<br />

maybe they should take me out of there,<br />

but I refused. “No, I have to stay and see this<br />

film!” It really had a profound and powerful<br />

effect on me. It’s probably one of the reasons<br />

I fell in love with cinema and went into it.<br />

Van der Ryn: It was the [1971] Nicolas Roeg<br />

movie Walkabout, which I saw when I was<br />

probably about 7 years old. It just really<br />

engaged me in a way that I had never<br />

experienced before, in any other form. It<br />

took me on this incredible journey that<br />

involved these two kids, an older sister and<br />

her younger brother, who was probably<br />

about 7, so I could relate completely to him.<br />

They’re on this journey across the Australian<br />

outback. For most of the movie, there’s<br />

no talking. It’s a completely cinematic<br />

experience that you can’t have in any other<br />

way, where you’re taken on this journey of<br />

sight and sound.<br />

What’s your favorite snack at the movie<br />

theater concession stand?<br />

Aadahl: I’m a popcorn guy. Lightly buttered<br />

and lightly salted.<br />

Van der Ryn: Of course, in a movie like A<br />

Quiet Place Part II, you have to be careful<br />

with the crunching, or the audience might<br />

turn on you.<br />

Aadahl: Junior Mints might work better.<br />

Van der Ryn: Or gummy bears.<br />

Something soft.<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



WHAT<br />

THE<br />

DICKENS!<br />

The Personal History of David<br />

Copperfield heads to the cinemas<br />


Director Armando Iannucci returns to the big<br />

screen, following 2017’s The Death of Stalin<br />

and 2009’s Oscar-nominated In the Loop, with The<br />

Personal History of David Copperfield. The Charles<br />

Dickens adaptation—which tells the tale of a young<br />

man (Dev Patel) suffering through numerous changes<br />

in fortune in 19th-century England—had its debut at<br />

the Toronto International Film Festival in September<br />

2019. A U.K. release came in January <strong>2020</strong>, and a<br />

North American bow was scheduled for May. And<br />

then … we don’t need to tell you what happened.<br />

Luckily for fans of witty, colorful costume dramas,<br />

The Personal History of David Copperfield is still<br />

heading to theaters—this time on <strong>August</strong> 14, courtesy<br />

of Searchlight Pictures. In advance of the film’s foray<br />

into newly opened cinemas, Iannucci took the time to<br />

speak to <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong>.<br />

The following conversation was conducted on<br />

June 26. It has been edited for length and clarity.<br />

Right: Dev Patel stars<br />

in The Personal History<br />

of David Copperfield.<br />

Image courtesy<br />

Searchlight Pictures<br />

82 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



Before we start, I have to thank<br />

you. The Personal History of David<br />

Copperfield was the last film I saw<br />

on the big screen before everything<br />

stopped.<br />

Before the end times.<br />

Yes! It was a really good note to end<br />

on. Since then, some films have been<br />

going straight to VOD instead of<br />

theaters—was that ever a possibility<br />

for David Copperfield?<br />

Well, we talked about it. The fundamental<br />

issue was that no one knew what was<br />

going to happen. Obviously, everyone’s<br />

concerned. Uppermost, really, was safety.<br />

The May release, perfectly understandably,<br />

was deferred. And we just kept talking<br />

about dates. I think everyone knew that<br />

I, particularly, didn’t want to go into<br />

theaters when it still felt too raw and<br />

too fresh. The <strong>August</strong> date stands at the<br />

moment, but if things change—film isn’t<br />

as important as stopping this pandemic<br />

and making sure everyone is safe. I’m<br />

pleased that we’ve got a date. But I know<br />

that everyone’s going to keep reviewing it<br />

and making sure that it’s all safe.<br />

Avenue 5, your sci-fi comedy<br />

television series [in which a group of<br />

tourists are stranded on a spaceship],<br />

finished its first season on HBO in<br />

March. What else have you been up<br />

to during quarantine?<br />

Fortunately, we’ve been writing season<br />

two of Avenue 5. I miss the fun of having<br />

everyone in the room and bouncing<br />

ideas off each other. We’ve had to do that<br />

remotely, and it sort of works, but it just<br />

feels a bit odd. Avenue 5 is about lots of<br />

people trapped in a situation they can’t<br />

get out of, with no real leaders. So it’s a bit<br />

painfully close to home. But I’m glad I’ve<br />

had something to fill my days with, because<br />

I sympathize with anyone who’s just been<br />

stuck at home, unable to work. That sense<br />

of lack of structure can be quite interesting<br />

and useful for a week or so. But by the time<br />

you get to week 11, 12, 13, 14, you really<br />

want to get out and run about on a windy<br />

hill with a kite [a favored activity of The<br />

Personal History of David Copperfield’s Mr.<br />

Dick, played by Avenue 5 star Hugh Laurie].<br />

84 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

“I’ve always been a<br />

huge Dickens fan.<br />

I reread the book<br />

about 10 years ago,<br />

and I was struck<br />

by how absolutely<br />

contemporary it felt.<br />

It felt so modern.”<br />

Left: Paul Whitehouse,<br />

Daisy May Cooper,<br />

Tilda Swinton, and<br />

Hugh Laurie (and—<br />

per the sign behind<br />

them—absolutely<br />

no donkeys). Image<br />

courtesy Searchlight<br />

Pictures<br />

Right: Tilda Swinton<br />

(top), Dev Patel,<br />

Rosalind Eleazar, and<br />

Hugh Laurie step into<br />

the past. Photo Credit:<br />

Dean Rogers. Courtesy<br />

Searchlight Pictures<br />

Speaking of the timeliness of Avenue<br />

5, I saw David Copperfield twice:<br />

once before everything shut down<br />

and once well after. In the second<br />

viewing, the issues of class conflict<br />

that crop up throughout the story<br />

had a bigger impact on me.<br />

That’s why I wanted to make the film! I’ve<br />

always been a huge Dickens fan. I reread<br />

the book about 10 years ago, and I was<br />

struck by how absolutely contemporary<br />

it felt. It felt so modern. It also had, in Mr.<br />

Dick, a really honest and open discussion<br />

of mental illness and the burdens it brings.<br />

And, yes, wealth and poverty existing side<br />

by side in the street. And this kind of—I<br />

suppose the modern expression would be<br />

status anxiety, imposter syndrome, that<br />

whole thing of, do I fit in? Do I belong?<br />

Have I made the right friends? What do<br />

they think of me? Have I made the right<br />

life decisions? The whole book is about a<br />

search for identity.<br />

David goes from fortune to fortune<br />

and household to household, being given<br />

different names by people. He’s trying to<br />

work out who he is. And it’s only when he<br />

realizes he’s a writer, that he has to write<br />

his memory and his experience down, that<br />

[he realizes] who he is. So it’s a deeply<br />

modern, contemporary book. That was<br />

my gut feeling, turning it into a movie. I<br />

didn’t want to do a modern version of it. I<br />

wanted to set it very much in its time. But<br />

I wanted people in the theater to feel that<br />

at any point they could just stand up and<br />

walk into it and feel a part of it, feel that<br />

they connected with the people in the film.<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



Right: Director<br />

Armando Iannucci,<br />

Peter Capaldi as the<br />

wily Mr. Micawber<br />

(center), and Dev Patel<br />

in the title role. Image<br />

courtesy Searchlight<br />

Pictures<br />

Below: Hugh Laurie as<br />

Mr. Dick, pondering<br />

kites and/or the<br />

lopped-off head of<br />

King Charles. Image<br />

courtesy Searchlight<br />

Pictures<br />

Uriah Heep [a servant who takes<br />

advantage of people on his way up<br />

the social ladder] is an interesting<br />

character. He does awful things, but<br />

when he says he doesn’t want to bow<br />

and scrape to people just because<br />

he happens to have been born into a<br />

different class—he’s not wrong.<br />

Yes! And I think it’s right that you feel<br />

a little sorry for him. At times, I think<br />

David is a little bit unreasonably cruel<br />

to him, in order to remain friends with<br />

Steerforth [his upper-class friend, played<br />

by Aneurin Barnard] and so on. And<br />

that’s what I took from reading the<br />

book. Dev and I and Ben [Whishaw, who<br />

plays Uriah], we discussed that actually<br />

[Uriah] is about the same age as David,<br />

and they started off with roughly similar<br />

circumstances. So it’s almost like he is<br />

a mirror image of David. Or he’s what<br />

David might have become if he had taken<br />

a slightly different path or decided to<br />

advance himself a different way. He’s<br />

there as a kind of warning to David.<br />

I’ve always been fascinated by heroes<br />

and villains who are not a hundred<br />

percent heroic or a hundred percent<br />

villainous. That ambiguity, that sense of,<br />

that could be me. The vulnerability in it.<br />

I think that’s far more interesting than a<br />

two-dimensional, “this is good and this<br />

is bad.” That was very much a conscious<br />

decision that we wanted to keep. I think it<br />

becomes all the more unnerving because<br />

of it. [Uriah’s behavior isn’t] a grotesque<br />

caricature based on very base, animalistic<br />

instinct. There’s a survival instinct that’s<br />

gone a little bit the wrong way.<br />

Watching the other characters be<br />

cruel to him is really uncomfortable.<br />

That’s what Dickens does in quite a few<br />

of his books. The opening lines of this<br />

film and the book are, “Whether I turn<br />

out to be the hero of this story ...” There’s<br />

a question mark. And Dickens is very<br />

interested in making the hero vulnerable.<br />

In Great Expectations, the hero becomes<br />

the snob. He looks down on people<br />

who have less money than him. Great<br />

Expectations was a later novel, but you can<br />

see that in David Copperfield.<br />

The childhood scenes in Copperfield<br />

are based very much on Dickens’s own<br />

childhood. But he kept that quiet. He<br />

didn’t tell people it was based on him,<br />

because he was ashamed. That sense<br />

of trying to hide from other people’s<br />

opinions is all there. And therefore, we<br />

wanted David to make jokes at the expense<br />

of the people who’ve been looking after<br />

him. To do impressions of Mr. Wickfield<br />

[played by Benedict Wong] for the other<br />

people in the school. None of us are<br />

perfect, and all of us try and play to the<br />

crowd in order to get approval.<br />

Like you said, he has impostor<br />

syndrome and he’s trying to fit in.<br />

Dev and I spoke about it when I asked him<br />

to be David. He talked about the fact that<br />

he came from an immigrant Indian family,<br />

but born in Britain. Similarly, I’m from<br />

an Italian immigrant family, but born in<br />

Britain. In the 19th century, whether you<br />

are in or whether you are out is based on<br />

wealth and money and class, whereas<br />

86 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

today, identity’s determined by a host<br />

of other things as well. What job you do.<br />

Ethnicity. All these questions.<br />

Having a racially diverse cast helps<br />

with modernizing the story without<br />

straight-up making a modern version.<br />

It wasn’t part of a deliberate—the only<br />

person I could think of to play David<br />

was Dev. As an actor, as a performer,<br />

as a presence, he embodied David<br />

Copperfield and all that I want to portray<br />

about David: his optimism, his energy,<br />

his sense of humor, the pathos. He’s in<br />

every scene. He’s the heart of the film.<br />

You have to do impressions. You have<br />

to do slapstick. You have to do romance.<br />

You have to do tragedy. You have to do<br />

poverty. Everything. I could only think<br />

of Dev. When Dev said yes, I was relieved,<br />

because I didn’t have a plan B. But I also<br />

thought, that’s how I must cast everyone.<br />

Find the actor who best contains the<br />

spirit of that character, irrespective of<br />

what their background is or what acting<br />

tradition they’re in. Because in fact,<br />

when you analyze it, the whole film is<br />

about community and friendship. It’s<br />

about loving those who are your friends<br />

and being friends with those that you<br />

love. People of all sorts of different<br />

backgrounds, caring for each other<br />

because they’re part of a community.<br />

You’ve done both film and TV.<br />

How do you decide which medium<br />

fits a particular project? Because,<br />

obviously, there have been a ton of<br />

limited-series adaptations of Dickens.<br />

[David Copperfield is] actually such a<br />

poetic, lyrical book—it’s a book about<br />

language and imagination and memory<br />

and how memory plays tricks on you and<br />

[how] things that you remember, when<br />

you revisit them, are actually different.<br />

I felt this had to be a film, because I<br />

had to have a sense of structure, and<br />

you had to experience it as a life being<br />

lived. And I think you can only do that in<br />

one continuous viewing rather than in<br />

episodic viewing.<br />

And also, I want it to be in the cinemas.<br />

It’s a big canvas, a big stage. It has so many<br />

speaking parts and so many characters in<br />

such a big, colorful world. To me, it always<br />

felt like a film. It is also an 800-page book.<br />

So the challenge was in coming up with<br />

an adaptation that fulfills that criteria of<br />

having a beginning, a middle, and an end.<br />

And that kind of drive-through narrative,<br />

a thematic development that really keeps<br />

propelling you forward. So that was the<br />

difficult part in terms of the script. And<br />

that was about being true to the spirit<br />

of the book, but not feeling absolutely<br />

over-reverential about the plot. We’ve<br />

changed the story lines of various people.<br />

We’ve got rid of certain characters. We’ve<br />

compressed certain characters into one.<br />

This is a film that I want people to come<br />

to feeling they don’t have to read the book.<br />

They don’t need to know anything about<br />

Dickens or the period or anything. I want<br />

people to feel fully immersed in this film<br />

from start to finish.<br />

You’ve been passionate about the<br />

need to help cultural institutions that<br />

are in very real trouble right now.<br />

I’m wondering how you feel about<br />

the exhibition community in the U.K.,<br />

specifically independent and art<br />

house theaters.<br />

One of the reasons I’m pleased that<br />

we now have a date in the U.S. is—<br />

Searchlight was telling me that a lot of<br />

the independent theaters were very keen<br />

to have the film as one of their first films<br />

on reopening, because they need to get<br />

people back in. The larger cinema chains,<br />

I think, can cope temporarily with slightly<br />

reduced numbers, but the art house<br />

theaters need continuous custom.<br />

In the U.K., it’s live theater, live music,<br />

live-performance venues that I’m really<br />

worried about, because they are going<br />

to be the very, very last ones to open up.<br />

For sound, scientific reasons. But for that<br />

reason, they are the ones that are going to<br />

need the support. Because if there’s one<br />

thing people have really come to value<br />

during this lockdown, it’s the arts. It’s you<br />

streaming Netflix, it’s you downloading<br />

a movie, it’s you reading a book. It’s that<br />

sense of the creative output that we have<br />

so long taken for granted. But it’s helped<br />

get us through this, and it’s helped sustain<br />

us mentally and emotionally. It would<br />

be a terrible tragic end to the situation,<br />

if when we all open up, the creative<br />

industries have died around us. Because<br />

they’re what helped get us through our<br />

moments of isolation.<br />

“It would be a terrible tragic<br />

end to the situation, if when<br />

we all open up, the creative<br />

industries have died around<br />

us. Because they’re what<br />

helped get us through our<br />

moments of isolation.”<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



COMING<br />


Following the pause caused by Covid-19,<br />

studios and distributors have realigned<br />

upcoming release dates through 2021<br />

Release dates are accurate as of July 6. For the latest<br />

schedule, visit www.boxofficepro.com/release-calendar.<br />

TENET<br />

<strong>August</strong> 12 / Warner Bros.<br />

An action-epic evolving from the world of<br />

international espionage.<br />

Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson,<br />

Elizabeth Debicki<br />

Director: Christopher Nolan<br />

Rating: PG-13 Running Time: TBD<br />

Premium Formats: Imax<br />

Melinda Sue Gordon. © <strong>2020</strong> Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved<br />

88 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Linda Kallerus. © <strong>2020</strong> CTMG Inc. All Rights Reserved<br />


<strong>August</strong> 07 / Sony<br />

This film follows the always-unique Lucy, a<br />

20-something art gallery assistant living in New<br />

York City, who also happens to be an emotional<br />

hoarder. After she gets dumped by her latest<br />

boyfriend, Lucy is inspired to create the Broken<br />

Hearts Gallery, a pop-up space for the items love<br />

has left behind. Word of the gallery spreads,<br />

encouraging a movement and a fresh start for all the<br />

romantics out there, including Lucy herself.<br />

Cast: Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery,<br />

Utkarsh Ambudkar<br />

Director: Natalie Krinsky<br />

Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 108 Min.<br />


HERESY<br />

<strong>August</strong> 07 / Sony Pictures Classics<br />

Jose Haro. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics<br />

Art critic James Figueras has fallen from<br />

grace, spending his days in Milan lecturing<br />

witless tourists about art history. An<br />

opportunity strikes when a wealthy art<br />

dealer asks him to steal a painting from a<br />

legendary reclusive artist. Soon, James’s<br />

greed and ambition get the better of him,<br />

and he finds himself caught in a web of his<br />

own making.<br />

Cast: Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland,<br />

Claes Bang<br />

Director: Giuseppe Capotondi<br />

Rating: R Running Time: 98 Min.<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />





<strong>August</strong> 14 / Searchlight Pictures<br />

From birth to infancy, from adolescence to adulthood,<br />

the good-hearted David Copperfield is surrounded<br />

by kindness, wickedness, poverty, and wealth, as he<br />

meets an array of remarkable characters in Victorian<br />

England. As David sets out to be a writer, in his quest<br />

for family, friendship, romance, and status, the story<br />

of his life is the most seductive tale of all.<br />

Cast: Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw<br />

Director: Armando Iannucci<br />

Rating: PG Running Time: 116 Min.<br />

Image courtesy Searchlight Pictures<br />


<strong>August</strong> 14 / STX Entertainment<br />

A family fights for survival as a planet-killing comet<br />

races to Earth. John Garrity, his estranged wife Allison,<br />

and young son Nathan make a perilous journey to their<br />

only hope for sanctuary. Amid the terrifying events,<br />

the Garritys experience the best and worst in humanity<br />

while they battle the increasing panic and lawlessness<br />

surrounding them.<br />

Cast: Morena Baccarin, Gerard Butler, David Denman<br />

Director: Ric Roman Waugh<br />

Rating: PG-13 Running Time: TBD<br />

Image courtesy STX Films<br />

FATIMA<br />

<strong>August</strong> 14 / Picturehouse<br />

A drama about the power of faith, Fatima tells the<br />

story of a 10-year-old shepherd and her two young<br />

cousins in Fátima, Portugal, who report seeing visions<br />

of the Virgin Mary. Their revelations inspire believers<br />

but anger officials of both the Church and the secular<br />

government, who try to force them to recant their<br />

story. As word of their prophecy spreads, tens of<br />

thousands of religious pilgrims flock to the site in<br />

hopes of witnessing a miracle.<br />

Cast: Joaquim de Almeida, Goran Višnjić, Stephanie Gil, Lúcia<br />

Moniz, Sônia Braga, Harvey Keitel<br />

Director: Marco Pontecorvo<br />

Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 113 Min.<br />

Claudio Iannone. © <strong>2020</strong> Picturehouse<br />

90 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>


<strong>August</strong> 21 / Lionsgate<br />

Successful author Veronica Henley finds herself<br />

trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the<br />

mind-bending mystery before it’s too late.<br />

Cast: Janelle Monáe, Eric Lange, Jena Malone<br />

Directors: Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz<br />

Rating: TBD Running Time: 105 Min.<br />

MULAN<br />

<strong>August</strong> 21 / Disney<br />

A fearless young woman risks everything for<br />

her family and her country to become one of<br />

the greatest warriors China has ever known.<br />

When the emperor of China issues a decree<br />

that one man per family must serve in the<br />

imperial army to defend the country from<br />

northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest<br />

daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to<br />

take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading<br />

as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every<br />

step of the way and must harness her inner<br />

strength and embrace her true potential.<br />

Cast: Liu Yifei, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee<br />

Director: Niki Caro<br />

Rating: PG-13<br />

Running Time: 115 Min.<br />

Image courtesy Walt Disney Studios<br />

Matt Kennedy. Courtesy Lionsgate<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />




<strong>August</strong> 28 / United Artists Releasing<br />

Yet to fulfill their rock-and-roll destiny, the now<br />

middle-aged best friends set out on a new adventure<br />

when a visitor from the future warns them that only<br />

their song can save life as we know it. Along the way,<br />

they will be helped by their daughters, a new batch of<br />

historical figures, and a few music legends to seek the<br />

song that will set their world right and bring harmony<br />

in the universe.<br />

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Samara Weaving<br />

Director: Dean Parisot<br />

Rating: TBD Running Time: TBD<br />

Patti Perret. Courtesy Orion Pictures<br />


<strong>August</strong> 28 / 20th Century Studios<br />

An original horror-thriller set in an isolated hospital<br />

where a group of young mutants is being held for<br />

psychiatric monitoring. When strange occurrences<br />

begin to take place, both their new mutant abilities<br />

and their friendships will be tested as they battle to<br />

try and make it out alive.<br />

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton<br />

Director: Josh Boone<br />

Rating: PG-13 Running Time: TBD<br />

Image courtesy 20th Century Studios<br />


September 4 / Paramount Pictures<br />

Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott<br />

family must now face the terrors of the outside world<br />

as they continue their fight for survival in silence.<br />

Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly<br />

realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not<br />

the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.<br />

Cast: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds<br />

Director: John Krasinski<br />

Rating: PG-13<br />

Running Time: 97 Min.<br />

Premium Formats: Imax<br />

Jonny Cournoyer. © Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.<br />

92 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>


September 18 / 20th Century Studios<br />

As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and<br />

criminal masterminds gathers to plot a war to<br />

wipe out millions, one man must race against<br />

time to stop them. Discover the origins of the<br />

very first independent intelligence agency.<br />

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans<br />

Director: Matthew Vaughn<br />

Rating: TBD Running Time: TBD<br />

Premium Formats: Imax<br />

Peter Mountain. Courtesy 20th Century Studios<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong> 93


WONDER WOMAN 1984<br />

October 2 / Warner Bros.<br />

Fast forward to the 1980s as Wonder Woman’s next<br />

big-screen adventure finds her facing an all-new foe:<br />

The Cheetah.<br />

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig<br />

Director: Patty Jenkins<br />

Rating: TBD Running Time: TBD<br />

Premium Formats: Imax/3D<br />

Clay Enos. © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.<br />


October 16 / Searchlight Pictures<br />

The French Dispatch brings to life a collection of<br />

stories from the final issue of an American magazine<br />

published in a fictional 20th-century French city.<br />

Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Cecile de France<br />

Director: Wes Anderson<br />

Rating: R Running Time: 108 Min.<br />

Image courtesy Searchlight Pictures<br />


April 23, 2021 / Sony Pictures / Screen Gems<br />

Behind our world, there is another: a world of dangerous<br />

and powerful monsters that rule their domain<br />

with deadly ferocity. When Lt. Artemis and her loyal<br />

soldiers are transported from our world to the new<br />

world, the unflappable lieutenant receives the shock<br />

of her life. In her desperate battle for survival against<br />

enemies with incredible powers and unstoppable,<br />

terrifying attacks, Artemis will team up with a mysterious<br />

man who has found a way to fight back.<br />

Cast: Mila Jovovich, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta<br />

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson<br />

Rating: PG-13 Running Time: TBD<br />

Coco Van Oppens Photography. © CONSTANTIN FILM <strong>Pro</strong>duktion Services GmbH<br />

94 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>







www.paradigmae.com<br />

616.785.5656<br />

RTS<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />


On Screen EVENT CINEMA<br />

THE MAIN<br />

EVENT<br />

Event cinema responds to the<br />

Covid-19 programming gaps<br />


With cinemas beginning to open<br />

up worldwide, content is on<br />

everyone’s mind. Whether they’re<br />

screening repertory titles or independent<br />

films on the drive-in circuit, theaters<br />

have had to think differently about their<br />

approach to programming—and that’s<br />

unlikely to change over the coming<br />

weeks, even as new releases from major<br />

studios plan to boost cinemas with new<br />

blockbuster hopefuls.<br />

Event cinema has long given exhibitors<br />

the ability to diversify their content<br />

offerings, to program screenings of<br />

opera, theater, concerts, special-interest<br />

documentaries, and more in between<br />

typical first-run content. Even as<br />

big-budget Hollywood films return to<br />

theaters—albeit with still-shifting release<br />

dates—event cinema could prove to be<br />

a valuable tool for exhibitors looking to<br />

draw sofa-bound moviegoers back into the<br />

theater with the promise of something new.<br />

Still, the world of event cinema has<br />

experienced its own setbacks caused<br />

by the Covid-19 pandemic. With much<br />

uncertainty still in the air about how<br />

the exhibition landscape will look in the<br />

coming months, <strong>Boxoffice</strong> <strong>Pro</strong> spoke<br />

with a number of event cinema experts<br />

about the possibilities and limitations<br />

they currently face.<br />

Event cinema providers, like other<br />

distributors, were left with a slate full<br />

of programming and nowhere to put it<br />

once it became clear that the exhibition<br />

landscape was likely to undergo a neartotal<br />

shutdown. As a result, many of these<br />

providers have shuffled programming<br />

96 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

intended for the first half of <strong>2020</strong> down<br />

the calendar, where they could end up<br />

being a lucrative draw for moviegoers<br />

unable to attend spectator sports or live<br />

performance.<br />

Large live concerts, for example, are a<br />

no-go for now. Says Bernadette McCabe,<br />

executive vice president of CineLife<br />

Entertainment, which has its Artists Den<br />

concert series still in the works: “With<br />

something like a concert, there won’t be<br />

bands touring this summer. So that will be<br />

an interesting opportunity for a consumer<br />

to see that in a movie theater versus in an<br />

arena.” McCabe cites CineLife’s screenings<br />

of Comédie-Française as a substitute for<br />

live theater, which “isn’t really available<br />

right now. So if somebody would like to<br />

see beautiful, high-quality productions<br />

from the French stage, they could go to a<br />

local movie theater and see something.”<br />

A mix of CineLife’s already-released<br />

content and programming, which would<br />

have hit theaters in the first half of <strong>2020</strong>—<br />

including Rigoletto on the Lake, Celebrating<br />

the Sopranos, and a selection of four LGBT<br />

repertory titles originally scheduled for<br />

Pride Month—will now come out later<br />

in the year. All upcoming content, says<br />

McCabe, will be available for exhibitors to<br />

book over a larger-than-normal window of<br />

time—as much as 10 weeks, depending on<br />

the title—in recognition of exhibitors’ need<br />

for flexibility as they gradually resume<br />

typical operations.<br />

Fathom Events is bringing some<br />

of its older content back to theaters in<br />

North America, where the distributor’s<br />

“welcome back” programming has been<br />

designed to fill a 30-day window. Says<br />

head of marketing Letha Steffey, “We have<br />

some faith-based-type films for Mondays;<br />

Tuesday, anime; Wednesday, classic films;<br />

Thursday, girls’ night out. We’ve built this<br />

welcome back program to support the<br />

exhibitors when they do open up, whether<br />

they have five theaters—as we heard from<br />

Cinemark for that week starting June<br />

19—or 500 theaters. This welcome back<br />

program is really built for flexibility, such<br />

that they can choose the titles that they<br />

want to play and the times of day.”<br />

That flexibility is especially vital<br />

given what’s sure to be an inconsistent,<br />

country-by-country global reopening and<br />

the unpredictability of a potential second<br />

wave of shutdowns. In South Korea, for<br />

example, the cinema industry has not<br />

had the total, prolonged shutdown faced<br />

by much of the rest of the world. At the<br />

same time, box office plummeted during<br />

the spring months due in part to a lack<br />

of content. In April and May, Trafalgar<br />

Releasing brought three 2019 releases—<br />

The King and I: From the London<br />

Palladium, Josh Groban’s Bridges from<br />

Madison Square Garden, and Metallica:<br />

S&M²—to theaters in Korea, where<br />

they had never before been released.<br />

While the films perhaps didn’t do as<br />

well as they would have under “normal<br />

circumstances,” says Trafalgar CEO Marc<br />

Allenby, all three films “attracted an<br />

audience. They weren’t eye-watering. But<br />

I think in the case of Metallica, it was the<br />

largest event film in Korea that month,<br />

and both Josh Groban and the King and I<br />

still performed well.”<br />

Left: Metallica: S&M 2 ,<br />

image courtesy<br />

Trafalgar Releasing<br />

Right: Celebrating<br />

the Sopranos, photo<br />

courtesy CineLife<br />

Entertainment<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />


On Screen EVENT CINEMA<br />

In effect, the challenge<br />

event cinema faces<br />

here is the same<br />

challenge faced by the<br />

wider film industry—a<br />

lack of new content<br />

ready to go into<br />

socially distanced<br />

production.<br />

At the same time, the shifting landscape<br />

of global exhibition will likely lead to<br />

some changes down the line for event<br />

cinema distribution, says Allenby. Event<br />

cinema is largely based on the concept of<br />

appointment viewing—selling a film as a<br />

one-time-only event, released at the same<br />

time globally (where possible, taking things<br />

like local holidays and regulations into<br />

account), with no guarantee that it will<br />

ever hit theaters again. Moving forward,<br />

there will have to be “greater elasticity”<br />

if countries go into a second lockdown,<br />

Allenby says. “From my perspective, we<br />

spent the last 10 years building up the<br />

global event model where [on] one night,<br />

same time, local time zone adjusted, an<br />

event happens and everybody’s unified.<br />

I think whilst that approach still stands,<br />

we’re going to have to accept there’s going<br />

to be variance. At short notice, countries<br />

may well be having to opt out of releases or<br />

postpone releases. And so we will need to<br />

have more flex in the model.”<br />

Fathom Events is embracing change<br />

in its own way, by using the period of<br />

the shutdown to reevaluate its preshow<br />

strategy as a whole, developing<br />

content designed to contribute to<br />

patrons’ theatrical experience “from the<br />

moment that they sit in the theater chair.”<br />

Fathom’s Steffey continues, “Across<br />

the board, we’ve been really diving<br />

into things that perhaps prior to this<br />

pandemic [we] really hadn’t had the time<br />

[to focus on]. … This is a chance for us<br />

to take a step back and then determine,<br />

how can we really look at optimizing our<br />

core business and our go-to-market?” In<br />

addition to its pre-show, Fathom has also<br />

begun conducting its own research into<br />

consumer preferences and launched a<br />

redesigned mobile site.<br />

CineLife, Trafalgar, and Fathom all<br />

plan to make announcements in the<br />

coming weeks as to what will be on their<br />

slates for the back half of <strong>2020</strong>. But in<br />

the longer term, a challenge looms: the<br />

struggle to create new content, as many<br />

of the live cultural events that make up<br />

so much of the event cinema landscape<br />

are on hold. The Metropolitan Opera, for<br />

example, has canceled its fall season, and<br />

it’s hard to imagine the gigantic concerts<br />

from K-pop band BTS, which have proven<br />

so profitable for event cinema, taking<br />

place any time soon.<br />

In effect, the challenge event cinema<br />

faces here is the same challenge faced by<br />

the wider film industry—a lack of new<br />

content ready to go into socially distanced<br />

production. “Certainly,” notes McCabe,<br />

“acquiring content over the next 12 months<br />

is going to be a different landscape than it<br />

was six months ago.”<br />

Here, Allenby believes that event<br />

cinema distributors are better positioned<br />

than typical studios because “the risk<br />

is slightly more contained.” Event<br />

cinema’s demand-through-scarcity<br />

model—reaching out to fans of a niche<br />

subject, rather than one with more general<br />

appeal—means that fewer ticket sales are<br />

needed in order to be deemed successful.<br />

And, with its smaller marketing budgets<br />

and quick turnaround time, event cinema<br />

is more nimble than its traditional<br />

counterparts; new product, whatever<br />

it is and whenever it takes place, can<br />

conceivably find itself in theaters in a<br />

matter of weeks after completion.<br />

As for what that content will be—it<br />

doesn’t appear that anyone, at this point,<br />

is trying to reinvent the wheel. The types<br />

of event cinema releases will be much the<br />

same as they were before, but distributors<br />

will be looking at unique ways to work<br />

with exhibitors to get them to the public—<br />

whether that’s increased flexibility in<br />

scheduling or a new pre-show.<br />

To help fill a gap in content, Trafalgar is<br />

looking into staging theatrical productions<br />

in the U.K. in mostly empty theaters,<br />

“without an audience or with a socially<br />

distanced audience, essentially primarily<br />

for cinema and potential downstream postcinema.<br />

… If you haven’t got a full paying<br />

audience in there, there probably is enough<br />

flexibility with the right planning to put<br />

shows on and capture them,” says Allenby.<br />

The worlds of event cinema and musical<br />

theater alike, he notes, are “looking at<br />

creative solutions to how we can continue<br />

some level of business during this period,”<br />

keeping the two industries “bubbling away,<br />

at least, whilst things normalize. I’m not<br />

trying to be overly or blindly optimistic, but<br />

I do think there are still great opportunities<br />

out there.”<br />

Above: Ghost, part of<br />

Fathom Events’ TCM Big<br />

Screen Classics series<br />

for <strong>2020</strong>. Image courtesy<br />

Fathom Events<br />

98 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>



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<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />




TENET<br />

Forecasting future box office when<br />

no existing models apply<br />


100 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Photo Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon. <strong>2020</strong> Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.<br />

Image courtesy Walt Disney Studios<br />

Left: John David<br />

Washington (left) and<br />

Robert Pattinson in<br />

Warner Bros. Pictures’<br />

action epic Tenet<br />

Right: Liu Yifei as<br />

the title character<br />

in Disney's liveaction<br />

Mulan<br />

After shifting from its original July 17<br />

release in North America to a planned<br />

July 31 opening, Christopher Nolan’s<br />

Tenet—the film unofficially recognized as<br />

the first major studio title in the return to<br />

cinemas—is now scheduled for an <strong>August</strong><br />

12 rollout. The move resulted in a cascade<br />

of other changes, notably Disney’s Mulan<br />

being pushed to an <strong>August</strong> 21 release.<br />

Due to the nature of the world we live in<br />

right now, and the needs of our magazine’s<br />

publishing schedule, there’s no guarantee<br />

of that specific news remaining relevant or<br />

accurate by the time you read this. This is<br />

the current, however temporary, reality of<br />

the global movie market. Forecasting, of<br />

course, includes expecting the unexpected.<br />

Even under normal circumstances in<br />

ordinary times, studios shuffle release<br />

dates and announce new titles. We’re<br />

simply accustomed to those changes<br />

occurring months and years in advance—<br />

not weeks.<br />

As of the end of June, the earliest<br />

theater owners can expect new, high-profile<br />

Hollywood product to arrive is the middle<br />

of <strong>August</strong>. As of the end of June, also, new<br />

Covid-19 outbreaks in different parts of the<br />

United States are resulting in fresh concern<br />

that the virus will continue to wreak havoc<br />

on everyone’s plans for months to come.<br />

Even after nearly a full half year’s worth<br />

of consistent disruption, we’re still in the<br />

middle of the fight and the ambiguity.<br />

The good news is that reports from<br />

several reliable outlets indicate that<br />

multiple Covid-19 vaccine trials are<br />

making progress and offering the world<br />

some light at the end of this long tunnel.<br />

They may not arrive until at least next<br />

year, but that doesn’t mean theaters<br />

can’t reopen safely before then, as other<br />

industries have, by following the proper<br />

health guidelines, nor does it mean there<br />

aren’t a significant number of moviegoers<br />

already eager to return and see new<br />

films on the big screen, provided the<br />

environments are safe in which to do so.<br />

All of this is crucial context to keep<br />

in mind when planning for the current<br />

release schedule. The best case scenario<br />

is that we’ll all be preparing to see Tenet<br />

and Mulan in theaters this <strong>August</strong>. Or, by<br />

the time you’re reading this, more delays<br />

might have occurred. If the mid- to latesummer<br />

fight against the virus doesn’t<br />

improve significantly, and quickly, we<br />

should prepare for these and other films<br />

to be pushed further down the calendar all<br />

over again. Possibly multiple times.<br />

There is even an unfortunate, but realistic,<br />

possibility that new releases and theatrical<br />

reopenings may not occur on a large scale<br />

until the fourth quarter of <strong>2020</strong> or later.<br />

To reiterate, this is the current reality<br />

of the global market. Nothing is assured<br />

until it happens, and all scenarios must be<br />

planned for. Even when reopenings do take<br />

effect, we must continue to expect abnormal<br />

consumer behaviors. Films will not be<br />

performing in typical box office patterns;<br />

instead they will likely trend toward longer<br />

runs and post-release holds than we’ve seen<br />

in many years—if not decades.<br />

Granted, films like Tenet, Mulan,<br />

Wonder Woman 1984, and A Quiet Place<br />

Part II will still have their target young to<br />

young adult audiences and fan bases to<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



draw from on opening weekends. Those<br />

demographics, built-in audiences, and<br />

similar releases will be crucial in the<br />

recovery process as we expect less frequent<br />

moviegoers to wait out the early weeks<br />

of theatrical reopenings and await word<br />

of mouth, not just on the movies but on<br />

the experience itself and how theaters are<br />

enforcing social distancing and engaging<br />

in other visible health-focused protocols.<br />

As of the end of the second quarter,<br />

<strong>2020</strong>’s domestic box office has registered<br />

around $1.8 billion from current releases,<br />

down approximately 68 percent from the<br />

same point one year ago. That year-toyear<br />

percentage decrease will likely reach<br />

75 percent by the end of July’s reporting<br />

period. For context, 2019 delivered<br />

$11.35 billion overall, the second highest<br />

domestic performance of all time—though<br />

that is hardly a fair comparison given the<br />

status quo in <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

Current models—those based on the<br />

assumption that Tenet, Mulan, A Quiet<br />

Place Part II, Wonder Woman 1984, and<br />

the bulk of <strong>2020</strong>’s remaining releases will<br />

meet their tentative target dates—suggest<br />

a wide range of outcomes for how the<br />

year might end up. Four billion dollars<br />

had been a reasonable target in early<br />

summer, which would represent a 65<br />

percent decline, but July will no longer<br />

benefit from major new releases as once<br />

expected. Still, a steady stream of major<br />

titles in the final quarter of the year could<br />

help alleviate the fact that summer movie<br />

season is now a wash for this year.<br />

November, in particular, has solid<br />

potential. In a near best case scenario, AMC<br />

and other chains are expecting to be able to<br />

Photo Credit: Clay Enos. Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment<br />

Frequent and infrequent<br />

moviegoers alike will have<br />

been stuck at home for<br />

many months, emptying<br />

their streaming queues and<br />

itching to enjoy communal<br />

experiences again.<br />

Below: Gal Gadot as<br />

Wonder Woman in<br />

Warner Bros. Pictures’<br />

action-adventure<br />

Wonder Woman 1984<br />

achieve 80 percent capacity by the time<br />

films like Black Widow, No Time to Die, and<br />

Soul are released. This, of course, assumes<br />

the fight against Covid-19 doesn’t take any<br />

more negative turns in the coming months.<br />

In December, last year’s combination of<br />

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Frozen II,<br />

and Jumanji: The Next Level will be hard to<br />

duplicate, but Top Gun: Maverick and Dune<br />

(though the latter is certainly a candidate<br />

to be delayed) should provide a strong<br />

foundation alongside other releases.<br />

If all this comes to pass, a target<br />

domestic box office between $3 billion and<br />

$4 billion for <strong>2020</strong> is achievable, but far<br />

from guaranteed. Studios and exhibitors,<br />

even upon reopening, will have to remain<br />

flexible until such time as outbreaks are<br />

under control and/or a vaccine is ready<br />

for wide distribution. If the fight in the<br />

coming months trends upward in a major<br />

way, that benefit could be felt before<br />

year’s end. If not, the recovery process will<br />

almost certainly extend into 2021— a year<br />

with a slate offering promise in some areas,<br />

but weak spots in others, as many of the<br />

titles that presented question marks for<br />

<strong>2020</strong> now reside on 2021’s calendar.<br />

In short, the speculative challenge of<br />

box office forecasting has never been as<br />

complex as it is right now.<br />

The good news, again, is that we<br />

can expect the idea of moviegoing to<br />

be reinvigorated with a fresh sense of<br />

enthusiasm on the other side of this<br />

pandemic. Frequent and infrequent<br />

moviegoers alike will have been stuck at<br />

home for many months, emptying their<br />

streaming queues and itching to enjoy<br />

communal experiences again. Absence<br />

makes the heart grow fonder, after all.<br />

The theatrical experience is naturally<br />

one that can meet that desire, and the<br />

unprecedented events of this year may<br />

arguably result in inflated demand for<br />

films of many varieties as the basic human<br />

urge for escapism only intensifies.<br />

When exactly that moment arrives<br />

is beyond the calculation of any single<br />

model at this time. Moviegoing habits<br />

depend heavily on the sentiment of<br />

patrons, something that is in flux every<br />

day and variable by community, due to<br />

the staggered and inconsistent response<br />

to this virus. We’re all living, reacting, and<br />

adapting to this temporary “new normal,”<br />

and the operative word for our industry—<br />

and passionate movie fans—right now is<br />

just that: temporary.<br />

102 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

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THE<br />





GUIDE<br />

Release calendar for theatrical<br />

distribution in North America<br />

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

schedule, visit www.boxofficepro.com/release-calendar<br />

101 STUDIOS<br />


Fri, 9/18/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman<br />

Director: Tim Hill<br />

Rating: PG<br />

Genre: Com/Fam<br />


310-369-1000<br />

212-556-2400<br />


Fri, 8/7/20 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Cri/Dra/Hor<br />


Fri, 8/28/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie<br />

Williams<br />

Director: Josh Boone<br />

Rating: PG-13<br />

Genre: Act/Hor/SF<br />

Dolby Vis/Atmos<br />


Fri, 9/18/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Gemma<br />

Arterton<br />

Director: Matthew Vaughn<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Adv<br />

Specs: IMAX<br />


Fri, 10/9/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Tom Bateman, Annette<br />

Bening<br />

Director: Kenneth Branagh<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Cri/Dra/Mys<br />


Fri, 11/13/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Ana de Armas, Ben Affleck<br />

Director: Adrian Lyne<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Thr<br />

The King’s Man<br />

Fri, 9/18/20 WIDE<br />

FREE GUY<br />

Fri, 12/11/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Ryan Reynolds<br />

Director: Shawn Levy<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Com/Act<br />


Fri, 12/18/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler<br />

Director: Steven Spielberg<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Mus<br />


Fri, 12/25/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck<br />

Director: Ridley Scott<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra<br />


JAMIE<br />

Fri, 1/22/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra/Mus<br />


Fri, 4/9/21 LTD<br />

Stars: H. Jon Benjamin, Kristen<br />

Schaal<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />


Fri, 4/23/21 LTD<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />


Fri, 8/13/21 LTD<br />

Rating: NR<br />



Fri, 8/14/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke<br />

Director: Darius Marder<br />

Rating: R<br />

Genre: Dra<br />


William Gruenberg<br />

william@bluefoxentertainment.com<br />

SAMSAM<br />

Fri, 8/7/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Isaac Lobé-Lebel, Lior<br />

Chabbat<br />

Director: Tanguy de Kermel<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />

Photo Credit: Peter Mountain<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />




Fri, 4/23/21 LTD<br />

Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin<br />

Harcourt McKenzie<br />

Director: Edgar Wright<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Hor/Thr<br />

Specs: Dolby Vis/Atmos<br />


310-277-3500<br />

Ask for Distribution<br />

2 HEARTS<br />

Fri, 9/11/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Jacob Elordi, Adan Canto<br />

Director: Lance Hool<br />

Rating: PG-13<br />

Genre: Rom/Dra<br />

Black Widow<br />

Fri, 11/6/20 WIDE<br />



Wed, 9/16/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Noomi Rapace, Joel<br />

Kinnaman<br />

Director: Yuval Adler<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra<br />

DISNEY<br />

818-560-1000<br />

Ask for Distribution<br />


Fri, 11/6/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Scarlett Johansson, David<br />

Harbour<br />

Director: Cate Shortland<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Adv<br />

Specs: 3D<br />

SOUL<br />

Fri, 11/20/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey<br />

Director: Pete Docter<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />

Specs: 3D/Dolby Vis/Atmos<br />


Fri, 2/12/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Richard Madden, Angelina<br />

Jolie<br />

Director: Chloé Zhao<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Adv/SF<br />


Fri, 3/12/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Awkwafina, Cassie Steele<br />

Director: Paul Briggs, Dean Wellins<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />

Specs: 3D<br />



Fri, 5/7/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Simu Liu, Awkwafina<br />

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Adv/Fan<br />


Fri, 5/28/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Emma Stone<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Com<br />


Fri, 6/18/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />


Fri, 7/30/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt<br />

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Adv<br />

Specs: Dolby Vis/Atmos<br />


Fri, 8/27/21 WIDE<br />

Director: Peter Jackson<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Doc<br />



Fri, 3/25/22 WIDE<br />

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch<br />

Director: Sam Raimi<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: SF/Fan/Adv<br />


LET HIM GO<br />

Fri, 8/21/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Kevin Costner, Diane Lane<br />

Director: Thomas Bezucha<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Thr<br />


Fri, 9/18/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Gina<br />

Rodriguez<br />

Director: Miranda July<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Com<br />


Fri, 10/30/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher<br />

Jr.<br />

Director: Jacob Chase<br />

Rating: PG-13<br />

Genre: Hor<br />

Photo Credit: Matt Kennedy<br />



Fri, 11/6/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin<br />

Director: Tom McCarthy<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Thr<br />




Fri, 8/7/20 LTD<br />

Director: Scott Crawford<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Doc<br />


Fri, 8/21/20 LTD<br />

Director: Barbara Kopple<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Doc<br />


bookings@ifcfilms.com<br />


Fri, 8/7/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Liam Neeson, Lindsay Duncan<br />

Director: James D’Arcy<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra<br />


Fri, 8/14/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Oksana Akinshina, Fyodor<br />

Bondarchuk<br />

Director: Egor Abramenko<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: SF<br />

TESLA<br />

Fri, 8/21/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Eve Hewson<br />

Director: Michael Almereyda<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra<br />


Fri, 8/28/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Vincent Piazza, Genesis<br />

Rodriguez<br />

Director: Brendan Walsh<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Thr<br />

106 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

THE NEST<br />

Fri, 9/18/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Jude Law, Carrie Coon<br />

Director: Sean Durkin<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra<br />


Fri, 11/25/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp<br />

Director: Neil Burger<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: SF/Thr<br />


310-309-8400<br />


Fri, 8/21/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Janelle Monáe<br />

Director: Gerard Bush, Christopher<br />

Renz<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Thr<br />


Fri, 8/28/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch<br />

Director: Dominic Cooke<br />

Rating: PG-13<br />

Genre: Dra<br />

FATALE<br />

Fri, 10/30/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Hilary Swank, Michael Ealy<br />

Director: Deon Taylor<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Sus<br />


Fri, 1/8/21 WIDE<br />

Director: Daniel Stamm<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Hor<br />


Fri, 1/22/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley<br />

Director: Doug Liman<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Adv/SF<br />



Fri, 3/19/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Nicolas Cage<br />

Director: Tom Gormican<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Com<br />


Fri, 4/23/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson<br />

Director: Martin Campbell<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Thr<br />

Antebellum<br />

Fri, 8/21/20 WIDE<br />

SPIRAL<br />

Fri, 5/21/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson<br />

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Hor<br />



Fri, 7/16/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo<br />

Director: Josh Greenbaum<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Com<br />

Photo Credit: Matt Kennedy<br />


Fri, 8/20/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L.<br />

Jackson<br />

Director: Patrick Hughes<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Com<br />



Fri, 12/10/21 WIDE<br />

Director: Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />




Fri, 5/27/22 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act<br />


212-379-9704<br />

Neal Block<br />

nblock@magpictures.com<br />


Fri, 8/7/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Stellan Skarsgård, Bjørn<br />

Floberg<br />

Director: Hans Petter Moland<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra<br />


Fri, 9/18/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Jane-Ege Ferling , Martin<br />

Serner<br />

Director: Roy Andersson<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra<br />

ALONE<br />

Fri, 9/18/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca<br />

Director: John Hyams<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Thr<br />


323-956-5000<br />


Fri, 9/4/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy<br />

Director: John Krasinski<br />

Rating: PG-13<br />

Genre: Hor<br />


Fri, 10/23/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Henry Golding, Andrew Koj<br />

Director: Robert Schwentke<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Adv<br />


Fri, 11/13/20 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Fam<br />


Fri, 12/18/20 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Com<br />


Wed, 12/23/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller<br />

Director: Joseph Kosinski<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Adv<br />

Specs: IMAX/Dolby Vis/Atmos<br />

RUMBLE<br />

Fri, 1/29/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Will Arnett, Terry Crews<br />

Director: Hamish Grieve<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />


Fri, 2/12/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Dylan O’Brien<br />

Director: Michael Matthews<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Adv<br />


Fri, 2/16/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Thr<br />


MOVIE<br />

Fri, 3/19/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Hor<br />


Fri, 5/28/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: SF<br />


Fri, 6/4/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act<br />


Fri, 7/2/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Com<br />


Fri, 7/23/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Yvonne Strahovski, Chris Pratt<br />

Director: Chris McKay<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/SF<br />


Fri, 8/20/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />


323-882-8490<br />


Fri, 7/31/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Charlie Plummer, Andy Garcia<br />

Director: Thor Freudenthal<br />

Rating: PG-13<br />

Genre: Dra<br />


Fri, 9/25/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Alicia Vikander, Julianne<br />

Moore<br />

Director: Julie Taymor<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dr<br />


212-556-2400<br />



Fri, 8/14/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Dev Patel, Peter Capaldi<br />

Director: Armando Innucci<br />

Rating: PG<br />

Genre: Com<br />


Fri, 10/16/20 LTD<br />

Stars: Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse<br />

Ronan<br />

Director: Wes Anderson<br />

Rating: R<br />

Genre: Com<br />

SONY<br />

212-833-8500<br />


Fri, 8/7/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Geraldine Viswanathan,<br />

Dacre Montgomery<br />

Director: Natalie Krinsky<br />

Rating: PG-13<br />

Genre: Rom/Com<br />

The Personal History<br />

of David Copperfield<br />

Fri, 8/14/20 LTD<br />

Photo Courtesy Searchlight Pictures<br />


Fri, 10/23/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Abbi Jacobson, Danny<br />

McBride<br />

Director: Mike Rianda<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />


Fri, 11/25/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie<br />

Davis<br />

Director: Clea DuVall<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Rom/Com/Hol<br />

108 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Top Gun: Maverick<br />

Wed, 12/23/20 WIDE<br />

Scott Garfield. © 2019 Paramount Pictures Corporation. All rights reserved.<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures<br />


Fri, 12/25/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Jennifer Hudson, Forest<br />

Whitaker<br />

Director: Liesl Tommy<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra/Mus<br />


Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE<br />

Director: Guy Ritchie<br />

Rating: NR<br />

DOG<br />

Fri, 2/12/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Channing Tatum<br />

Reid Carolin<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Com<br />

The Burnt Orange Heresy<br />

Fri, 8/7/20 LTD<br />


Wed, 12/30/20 WIDE<br />

Director: Adam Robitel<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Hor/Thr<br />


Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: James Corden, Rose Byrne<br />

Director: Will Gluck<br />

Rating: PG<br />

Genre: Ani<br />


Fri, 2/5/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Fan<br />


Fri, 3/5/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard<br />

Director: Jason Reitman<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Hor/Com/SF<br />


Fri, 3/19/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Jared Leto, Matt Smith<br />

Director: Daniel Espinosa<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Thr/SF<br />


Fri, 4/2/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Kevin Hart, Melody Hurd<br />

Director: Paul Weitz<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra<br />


Fri, 4/23/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa<br />

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Fan<br />

VIVO<br />

Fri, 6/4/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />


Fri, 6/25/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson<br />

Director: Andy Serkis<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/SF<br />


Fri, 7/16/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Adv<br />


Fri, 8/6/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani/Com<br />


Fri, 9/17/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Com<br />


Tom Prassis<br />

212-833-4981<br />


Fri, 8/7/20 LTD<br />


Fri, 11/20/20 LTD<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra<br />


310-742-2300<br />


Fri, 8/14/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin<br />

Director: Ric Roman Waugh<br />

Rating: PG-13<br />

Genre: Thr<br />


310-724-5678<br />

Ask for Distribution<br />


Fri, 8/28/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter<br />

Director: Dean Parisot<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Com/Adv<br />


Wed, 11/20/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek<br />

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Thr<br />

Specs: IMAX<br />


Fri, 6/4/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Sylvester Stallone<br />

Director: Julius Avery<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Thr<br />



Fri, 8/13/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Fam<br />


818-777-1000<br />


Fri, 10/16/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II,<br />

Teyonah Parris<br />

Director: Nia DaCosta<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Hor<br />


COMEDY<br />

Fri, 10/23/20 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Com<br />


<strong>2020</strong><br />

Fri, 11/13/20 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />


Fri, 11/20/20 WIDE<br />

Director: Joel Crawford<br />

Rating: NR<br />

THE CROODS 2<br />

Fri, 12/23/20 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />


Fri, 12/25/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Tom Hanks<br />

Director: Paul Greengrass<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra<br />

110 <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong>



Fri, 1/8/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Hor<br />

355<br />

Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o<br />

Director: Simon Kinberg<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Thr<br />


COMEDY<br />

Fri, 2/12/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Rom/Com<br />


Fri, 3/5/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />


Fri, 3/26/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />

F9<br />

Fri, 4/2/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron<br />

Director: Justin Lin<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Adv<br />

Specs: IMAX/Dolby Vis/Atmos<br />

NOBODY<br />

Fri, 2/19/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Bob Odenkirk<br />

Director: Ilya Naishuller<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Thr<br />

BIOS<br />

Fri, 4/16/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Tom Hanks<br />

Director: Miguel Sapochnik<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: SF<br />


Fri, 5/14/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />


Fri, 6/11/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Adv<br />


Fri, 7/2/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Steve Carell, Taraji P. Henson<br />

Director: Kyle Balda<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />



Fri, 7/23/21 WIDE<br />

Director: M. Night Shyamalan<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Thr<br />



Fri, 8/13/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Hor<br />


Fri, 10/15/21 WIDE<br />

Director: David Gordon Green<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Hor<br />


818-977-1850<br />

TENET<br />

Fri, 8/12/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: John David Washington,<br />

Robert Pattinson<br />

Director: Christopher Nolan<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Thr<br />


ME DO IT<br />

Fri, 9/11/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga<br />

Director: Michael Chaves<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Hor<br />

Specs: Dolby Vis/Atmos<br />

WONDER WOMAN 1984<br />

Fri, 10/2/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig<br />

Director: Patty Jenkins<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Adv/Fan<br />

Specs: IMAX/3D/Dolby Vis/Atmos<br />

DUNE<br />

Fri, 12/18/20 WIDE<br />

Stars: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca<br />

Ferguson<br />

Director: Denis Villeneuve<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: SF<br />


Fri, 1/15/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act<br />


Fri, 1/29/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Thr<br />

TOM & JERRY<br />

Fri, 3/5/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani<br />


Fri, 3/12/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra/Cri<br />


Fri, 3/19/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act/Adv<br />


Fri, 4/16/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />


Fri, 5/21/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Millie Bobby Brown, Eiza<br />

González<br />

Director: Adam Wingard<br />

Rating: PG-13<br />

Genre: SF/Act<br />

Specs: IMAX/3D/Dolby Vis/Atmos<br />


Fri, 6/4/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Hor<br />


Fri, 6/18/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Anthony Ramos, Corey<br />

Hawkins<br />

Director: Jon M. Chu<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Mus/Rom/Dra<br />


Fri, 7/16/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Ani/Com<br />


Fri, 8/6/21 WIDE<br />

Stars: Margot Robbie, Taika Waititi<br />

Director: James Gunn<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Act<br />


Fri, 11/19/21 WIDE<br />

Rating: NR<br />

Genre: Dra/Bio<br />

Tenet<br />

Fri, 8/12/20 WIDE<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />



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