If movie theaters cannot solve their survival crisis, why do we all fail

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When I was very young, my mother began to instill celluloid worship in me.Sometime during the Carter administration, on a hot summer night, she took me to a bus station in Macon, Georgia, to watch the 1933 edition King Kong.

Soon after, when I was about 9 or 10 years old, we started to occasionally spend Saturday nights in the cinema of a nearby university, where we saw classic movies like John Ford Searcher With George Cook’s Gas lamp.

This deal was finalized for me in the early 1980s, when we started going to an art cinema in Atlanta to watch the new version of Alfred Hitchcock’s film, including North-northwest, Rear window with dizziness(When I was 17, a friend and I sneaked into this cool movie theater, and David Lynch’s movie changed my mind forever Blue velvet.)

Therefore, when my family was preparing to move to Los Angeles this summer, I began to study the city’s classic movie theaters, especially the Revival House, which may be inevitable. There are many: TCL Chinese Theater, Billy Wilder, Egyptian Theater, New Beverly Theater (purchased by director Quentin Tarantino in 2007), etc.

But for movie theaters in Los Angeles and around the world, we have reached a worrying moment. The pandemic disrupted the business in a way that the Great Depression, World War II, and other disasters did not, sparking a renewed discussion of “the death of movies”—and a story about how the spoils of Hollywood blockbusters are distributed in movies Intensely controversial. The era of streaming media.

This spring, Los Angeles’s famous Panoramic dome About 300 other cinemas owned by Pacific Theatres and ArcLight Cinemas were also closed. The company stated that it no longer has a “feasible way forward”, which has prompted people to call on saviors like Tarantino to save the Panorama Dome. (Talentino passed it on, but did add a second Los Angeles landmark to his collection, Vista.)

At about the same time, Alamo Drawing RoomAn independent theater chain filed for bankruptcy protection, but will continue to operate after selling its assets to a pair of private equity investors. Other casualties are expected.

John Fisian, the head of the National Cinema Owners Association, a lobby group for film operators, told me last week that the crisis facing the film industry is an “survival crisis.” “We have undergone technological changes-the emergence of television, video recorders, DVDs and streaming services, but nothing hits the film industry more than this epidemic.”

However, the blockade is a good thing for Netflix and its competitors, leading to Streaming warsIn order to increase subscriptions to their own streaming services, Disney and Warner Bros. have recently changed the traditional movie distribution schedule, a move that may further threaten the box office revenue that movie theater operators rely on.

Traditionally, movie theaters enjoyed a three-month window of exclusivity before moving to other formats. Strong box office numbers are good for everyone-movie theaters, film studios, and the elite class of top talent, if their films reach certain goals, they have enough influence to negotiate huge bonuses.But Warner Bros. decided to release all of its 2021 films, including Godzilla VS King Kong, On the same day that it was shown in theaters, on its HBO Max streaming service, it violently closed the exclusive window of the movie theater. In July, Disney released Black widow, The latest issue of an important Marvel franchise was launched on the same day in the cinema and its Disney+ streaming service.

These strategies have worked, at least in the short term. Investors cheered the higher subscription numbers for HBO Max and Disney+. However, unlike Warner, Disney did not issue cash to its movie stars to make up for potential box office performance bonus losses. Black widow Star Scarlett Johansson was sued for breach of contract, Triggered a fierce reply From Disney.

In the age of streaming media, the battle over how to pay for actors, screenwriters, and other creatives may have just begun. Box office analysts worry that the streaming habit we developed during the pandemic will continue, leading to a long-term decline in movie theater attendance.

Financial Times Weekend Festival

The festival will return in person to our usually eclectic lineup of speakers and themes at Kenwood House (and online) on September 4th. Injecting all of this will be a reawakening of the spirit and the possibility of reimagining the world after the pandemic.To book tickets, please visit here

I thought of this when we bought a Bluetooth projector and drop-down screen for our new home in Los Angeles.With the right application and $3.99, I can easily project Gas lamp or Searcher For my children on our own screen. Of course, convincing them to watch is another matter. But even if they did watch and appreciate these movies, how is this experience different from watching these classics in a crowded theater? Or, to solve the concerns of theater owners: how much magic is left in the movie experience?

Tarantino is usually not interested in the dilemma of multiplexing. He has an answer. “I have a living room,” he told reporters Armchair expert Recent podcasts. “I’m going to the theater.”

Christopher Grimes is a Los Angeles reporter for the Financial Times

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