We are navigating through 'insecurity' of movies not coming out: Cinémas Guzzo CEO
Hollywood’s summer blockbuster season is a bust. And the rest of the year isn’t looking much better.
After months of incrementally delaying the release of big-budget movies, studios are now pulling them off the schedule altogether -- or pushing them well into 2021. That’s put the already-shaky reopening plans of U.S. cinema chains in doubt.
In the latest steps, Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures and ViacomCBS Inc.’s Paramount Pictures late Thursday delayed their next “Spider-Man” and “Top Gun” films, which had already been pushed out of summer. That came hours after Walt Disney Co. slapped an open-ended postponement on one of the last potential August tentpoles, the live-action remake of “Mulan.”
Wall Street has taken notice. Disney, a former high-flier, fell as much as 2.2 per cent in New York trading Friday and is down 19 per cent for the year. That compares with a 48 per cent gain for Netflix Inc., which has benefited from captive quarantine audiences.
Imax Corp., the big-screen movie company, tumbled as much as 8.1 per cent on Friday after Wedbush warned of long-term risks from the pandemic.
The postponement of film releases has created a ripple effect that will last years. With the 2021 slate getting too crowded, Disney delayed the first of several planned “Avatar” sequels a year from its December 2021 target date. It also shoved the next “Star Wars” movie from December 2022 to the following year.
Just as studios depend on robust box-office grosses to make profits on movies that can cost more than US$200 million, theatre chains need the crowds that those movies draw to survive in what’s a low-margin business at the best of times.
With film slates waning, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the world’s largest cinema chain, this week delayed the reopening of its U.S. locations to mid-to-late August from July 30. After the “Mulan” cancellation -- which followed the indefinite delay of “Tenet,” from AT&T Inc.’s Warner Bros. -- the chains might well scuttle their returns yet again.
The exhibitors have suffered even more than studios, with AMC down 44 per cent this year, Cinemark Holdings Inc. down 64 per cent and Regal parent Cineworld Group Plc down 79 per cent.