Regal Cinemas Announces Classic Movie Screenings Starting July 10 (IF they reopen): Rocky, Jaws, The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, Jurassic Park and more

Despite the delay of Tenet and Mulan to August (see: Tenet Delayed Again to August 12 – Summer Movie Theater Viewing Slipping Away), Regal Cinemas continues to stay the course of their announcement of reopening July 10.

According to a series of tweets from Regal’s official Twitter account (@RegalMovies), they have announced some of the classic movies that will be screening.

This is a good selection of movies to watch or rewatch on the big screen. Any in particular you’re interested in watching/rewatching in the theater, let us know in the comments. And, you might want to read the tweet replies, as some folks are saying it’s “too soon” and to “wait.”

This, in fact, might be the reality in some (many?) areas.

As of this writing, all our local Regal theaters continue to show no movie showtimes available for presale tickets (see topmost image). Being July 10 is only a couple weeks away from the posting of this article logic would suggest that at any time now the movie times will appear.

Unless they decide not to reopen, which is entirely possible, especially considering phase 4 in our area is being slowed due to spikes in COVID-19.

Credit: The Seattle Times June 27, 2020

We live in a county just south of the highest percentage of COVID-19 cases (King County – Seattle) highlighted in red on the image shown above. The graph to the left shows the increase in COVID-19 cases has risen to levels seen on 4/1 a couple weeks after non-essential businesses were closed. Deaths, if there is any positive in this data, have continued to decline.

I’m not sure if Regal or AMC will open in a couple weeks based on this data. Throughout this pandemic, I’ve maintained that the theaters should reopen as soon as possible when it is safe. I’m no scientist or health care professional, but the data above makes a strong case in our area that it isn’t safe yet.

I’m among the group that strongly wants to see movie theaters reopen, but not at the cost of public safety. If they do reopen on July 10, as planned, I’m going to be there, but this isn’t clear bearing the data shown above.

I’ve been waiting to post movies coming to theaters in July because changes to movie release dates continue to be delayed. This is yet more proof that nothing is predictable in these current times. Will likely do again like June (see: Originally Planned 9 Movies COMING TO THEATERS in June 2020 – Actual: 3 VOD, 0 Wide Theater Releases). I was hoping we might be getting back to normal, but that seems premature.

When Do You Think Movie Theaters Will Reopen?

We’ve covered in a prior post if you’re going to wait or visit right away and if you’re required to wear a mask (see: Will You Watch More or Less Movies in Theaters That Require Wearing a Mask?), a question I haven’t asked is when do you think movie theaters will reopen?

Will movie theaters open in July? Yes/no? In some areas, at least, I think the answer is no, despite theater announcements to the contrary. Government regulations may prevent — and rightly so — this from happening.

Will You Watch More or Less Movies in Theaters That Require Wearing a Mask?

How easy is it going to be eating popcorn and drinking soda while wearing a mask? Um, a distraction to the experience, definitely.

To mask or not is now being debated in the movie theater world.

AMC has reversed their decision to now requiring moviegoers to wear masks in their theaters. Before, they were going to allow their patrons to make that choice for themselves.

“This announcement prompted an intense and immediate outcry from our customers, and it is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks,” Aron said in a statement on Friday. “At AMC Theatres, we think it is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests. Accordingly, and with the full support of our scientific advisors, we are reversing course and are changing our guest mask policy.”

AMC Theatres reverses course, requiring guests to wear masks – CNN

I haven’t seen that Regal will be requiring masks, unless required by governmental order, which was a similar position AMC took initially. Since a very tiny percentage of movies we watch at AMC theaters, whatever policies they choose will have almost no impact on our movie theater watching experience.

One of many things that has changed for our lifestyle is wearing masks. When it’s required for use at a business, as is the case with most casinos, we wear them. When it’s optional, we don’t. At work? It’s mostly required for both of us, so we wear them. I’d be lying if I said wearing a mask is something either of us enjoy. We don’t.

Do we feel safer with everybody wearing masks? Honestly, no. Do you? This might be controversial, but I feel sicker wearing a mask than being able to breathe naturally without one. They also fog up my glasses making it harder for me to walk around safely. Don’t even get me started on sneezing or coughing inside one. The wearing mask experience sucks, sorry.

There are practical considerations when wearing a mask as part of the movie theater watching experience. We both love popcorn, so we’re nearly constantly eating throughout the film. This is going to cause adjusting and readjusting a mask every single time a bite is taken, not to mention drinking soda.

We can watch movies at home without wearing a mask.

This got me thinking about the question raised in the title. Will wearing a mask make me want to see less movies in theaters? I don’t think so. Despite not enjoying wearing a mask, it’s not so unenjoyable that it will cause me to say, “I won’t go see Tenet at any theater that makes me wear a mask.”

However, if we have a choice between theaters that require masks and those who don’t? We would probably choose the one that doesn’t require a mask.

Since we really miss the movie watching in theater experience, a mask being required isn’t going to prevent us from seeing a movie. Some may not go back to theaters if they are forced to wear masks. It seems a bit silly a reason to reduce movie watching in theaters, but I’m curious how this might impact other moviegoers interest?

Will you watch more or less movies in a theater that require wearing a mask?

VOD Levels The Viewing Playing Field for 15% Of The World’s Population Currently Disabled

Whenever the movie theater experience returns from the pandemic, the new movie viewing environment during all of this for the disabled has at least been leveled.

While exhibitors love to preach the sanctity of the communal experience, that belief system often seems to neglect the fact that a portion of that community — 15 percent of the world’s population, to be exact — can’t participate. Those with disabilities who can’t visit a theater are often left to wait at least three months to see a movie. And when you’re already treated differently, any distance from normalcy takes on added significance. It’s understandable why people on social media mourn the loss of theaters, but imagine if you were never able to see a movie in a theater in the first place.

For the Disabled, VOD Means Seeing First-Run Movies When Everyone Does | IndieWire

I’ve mentioned the disabled before as another key benefactor for VOD (or PVOD). Also, small children who are unable — and bless their little hearts (proud grandparent here!) — to stay still through an entire movie and/or disruptive.

At a minimum the public service value and proper business compliance with American Disability Act requirements, it seems to me the theaters (listen up, NATO!), studios and VOD streaming services can properly take care of these folks.

Honestly, I’m not sure why this hasn’t been an exception to the theatrical window already. I’m guessing NATO is arguing that these new releases would be hacked and/or cut into the box office revenue, but that’s bogus. At a time when civil rights are front and center, we need also to remember the rights of the disabled.

Another Flawed, Unfair Poll Cites Doom for Movie Theater Chain AMC

These polls continue to both amuse and disturb me.

We’re polling people in the middle of a freaking pandemic about whether or not they want to see new movies at a movie theater when theaters aren’t even open? Of course most of those people polled will say they’d rather watch new movies at home!

Hello. Let’s poll people outside in Antarctica and ask them if they feel warmer inside or out? Gee, wonder what the results will be there?

1,000 people. That’s always the magic poll number, it seems. There are theaters with five times that seating capacity and that’s the poll that we’re supposed to believe represents the world at large?

In fairness to the Motley Fool, an investing website, they do say that a poll in May could be perceived as “unfair.”

You think? That should be the headline instead of what’s linked below.

Let that sink in for a celluloid minute: A new movie comes out. The choice comes down to a multiplex or a living room, and AMC’s industry comes in third? Just one in eight survey participants were sure that they would prefer the stadium seating, popcorn tubs, and crowd experience of the multiplex. In short, AMC is doomed.

7 Out of 10 People Would Rather Be Home Than at a Multiplex

Look, I’m one of the last people who is going to stick up for AMC. I’ve criticized how they’ve behaved with Universal over Trolls World Tour (see: AMC Titanic May Just Have Struck Studio Iceberg – They Will No Longer Play ANY Universal Movies), for threatening not to show their movies when all of us know that’s an empty threat and for not embracing technology. These polls, however, are BS.

Do I believe they found 700 out of 1,000 people saying in May 2020 that they’d rather watch movies at home? Sure. Does that mean once theaters en masse are open again that 70% of the people who went to movies before will be staying home instead? No way.

I’m no expert on movie attendance, but would put the percentage of people not returning will be more like 30% less for awhile. How long all depends on what movies there are to see, how stir crazy the people locked up at home, etc.

Remember I’ve been out to casinos — multiple ones now — in Washington and Idaho and am here to tell you the crowds are there. If people are going to casinos, they’ll go to movies. Heck, one of the casinos in Washington has a movie theater on their property. No, it’s not reopened yet, but it will be — and I don’t believe 70% of the people who were there before the pandemic will not be returning.

I could be wrong here. Maybe the numbers will be higher. Maybe they’ll be lower than my 30% estimate.

What I know for a fact is while I’ve been out here working the entire time this has gone on, since we’re in an essential business, I’ve seen more people than this time of year normally in the stores.

Movie theaters will definitely be negatively impacted by the pandemic. Absolutely they will, but it won’t be a reduction of 70% or more of their prior business. Not unless they have no new movies to show.

That’s the number one thing that’s going to hurt the movie theaters: not enough new movies that people want to watch on their screens.

The picture at the top of this post shows movies, but none of them are coming soon in June. If theaters do reopen in June, they will probably see even higher than 70% of the people they normally have this time of year not coming back. Once the movies come back, so will customers.

It’s all about what’s playing on the big screen.

The next time you see one of these doomsday polls, realize how, where, when and why the poll was taken. Any polls taken right now are going to be worse than reality. My contention is that once the world opens up more — I mean, seriously, Nevada still hasn’t opened back up casinos yet, but various tribal casinos are opening across the United States.

Do you believe these polls are accurate? Use the comments below and weigh in.

Record Labels Blaze Trail for Movie Studios and Theater Owners

Once upon a time, people bought and listened to music on a physical format or listened to their favorite song on the radio and then went to the store and bought the album. That world was upended after one too many physical formats and the rise of the internet and Napster. Apple would intervene offering the concept of buying tracks for a buck a song and that pretty much killed off buying full albums. Now, consumers could carve up filler on albums and only buy their favorites.

(vinyl records are enjoying a passionate resurgence in interest, but no idea how long this will last — hopefully a long time!)

I wrote about the movie industry needing to learn from the music industry as well as online businesses not overreacting (see: Dear Netflix, Don’t Go Napster Hunting).

Yes, the businesses aren’t exact parallels in study, but check out this quote and apply it to studios and movie theaters.

“What I said out of the gate: It’s a mindset shift,” Bell says. “I was thinking to myself, this is a whole new world for us. Let’s reinvent what we need to do. Operationally we had to shift. We’re already going into an increasingly digital world,

Record Labels Are Designing New Marketing Strategies From Scratch – Rolling Stone

I think the future of movie theaters not only will, but must involve a better sense of embracing technology than they have. There have been some little tech things like before the movies show Nuvee playing interactive games with theater patrons and Regal’s Moviebill experience where you get this interactive magazine with your phone to learn more about the movie and get some cool 3D swag.

That’s a start. More, please.

I’m a champion of using technology to enhance and improve business including marketing, customer experience and satisfaction. There’s more that theaters and studios can do, working together, instead of fighting over the — gasp! — a shortened theatrical window they should be exploring alternative options for how each side can benefit from a world with a shortened or — gasp again! — no window.

Will they do this in a post pandemic world? With no vaccine yet, we are going to have to continue to live in a current virus is out there world for many months, maybe years into the future. Businesses that embrace changes tend to stay healthy longer than those who don’t. I’m hoping movie theater owners will look at technology to help them, not see it as a threat.

We’ll see.

Florida Landlord Sues AMC for Rent – 7.5 million – Meanwhile, they won’t open until there are “new” movies to show?

AMC On Demand is available … not sure how much $$ it is generating?

It’s not news that landlords are feeling the sting from tenants that can’t pay rent, but I’m a bit flummoxed by this lawsuit. $7.5 million for the entire balance of the lease? That’s what a Florida landlord is asking AMC to pay.

Palm Springs Mile Associates, Ltd., filed suit in federal court in Miami, alleging that AMC had failed to pay the $52,153.87 monthly rent on the AMC Hialeah 12. The suit contends that the breach of contract has triggered a requirement for immediate payment of the balance of the lease. The suit seeks in excess of $7.5 million in damages.

AMC Theatres Sued by Florida Landlord for Not Paying Rent – Variety

Let’s talk about that rent for a minute. $52,153.87 per month. If we divide that by 12 screens that works out to a cost of $4,346 per screen, if we then divide that by 30 days, that works out to 362 movie tickets sold per screen per day just to pay the rent.

This doesn’t take into account that the theaters don’t get to keep 100% of the ticket price. In fact, they get far less from the new movies when first released. This also doesn’t cover any labor costs.

This makes me feel less annoyed that popcorn is sold at an extreme markup (see: 788% Profit on Movie Theater Popcorn). Clearly, without the concessions these movie theaters would go broke.

Why aren’t movie theaters selling and delivering popcorn? There’s Doordash, Ubereats, etc. I’d think this would give at least some revenue to theaters from their businesses that literally are making $0 while shuttered. Some independent theaters are doing this but not the big three. They just shuttered and furloughed a bunch of their employees. They didn’t even try.

On that front, I can see why landlords would feel a little put off. No attempt to use any of that real estate to generate any kind of revenue makes little sense. The flip side of that is that rent seems ridiculous to me. Maybe it’s in a prime location, I don’t know the details, maybe it is well worth that price, but that is some real difficult math to wrap your head around for a viable business model at the least.

Put all this together and add to it the news that AMC is now holding out on reopening because there are no new movies to show? That just adds to the legal quagmire for this struggling industry giant.

AMC, open the theaters when it is safe to do so, there are plenty of movies to show — classic movies, if need be. Using the excuses not to reopen because now there are no new movies to show? That will likely not hold up in neither the court of public opinion or court that decides financial judgments against your business.

Independent Theaters Testing Virtual Screenings

Before you get super excited by the words “virtual theater” (like me), as some are billing it, the reality is it is essentially $12 VOD for movies that should be showing in independent theaters. If they weren’t closed.

The title to the theater shown above, “virtual screenings”, is more apt.

Though some “virtual theater” screenings began rolling out around March 20, the weekend of March 27 has the first full crop of movies available to watch, from slick noir to sardonic comedies to repertory titles from the 1970s to Oscar nominees. If you’re looking to see something new and exciting this weekend — and support independent theater at the same time — then here are 15 options available right now.

15 movies you can buy a “virtual ticket” to this weekend – Vox

The problem with this idea is it goes only part of the way. It’s not as virtual as even very dated tech currently currently allows.

What about an Oculus virtual reality app version of your theaters? Oculus/Facebook where are you right now? See: Watching Movies on Oculus Go

What these independent theater owners should be doing is personalizing the movie watching experience. How about scheduled watch-a-longs where a host has a chat during the virtual screening (see: 2nd Annual Halloween Mystery Movie Event Features 4 Shudder Movies)? Or maybe, the ability for a 3D virtual panoramic tour of your independent theater, choose your seat and then the movie plays, a la Second Life theaters.

Virtual Reality 3D Theaters emulate the social experience of the movie theater

The other part of this that is undesirable is the theater owners should already have been doing this. Waiting for the pandemic makes the “virtual screening” pitch seem — and probably is — desperate. If they were embracing virtual reality all along, including handicapped and disabled patrons who cannot as easily attend regular screenings, then this promotion of their virtual theater now would be more genuine and worthwhile. They would be supporting those moviegoers who wanted to come more often to their theater but weren’t as easily able to do so.

So, that’s why I think simply making movies available for VOD at $12 a rental and labeling them “virtual screening” just doesn’t go far enough.

I’m not a theater owner, but giving all of them this free advice: start investigating this tech and embracing it into your business ASAP. Make your patrons feel like the theater is still open, the lifeblood is there, the only thing missing are brand new wide release movies (and you should be plotting and planning to get those pictures screening — like Trolls World Tour that’s coming this Friday, yes, how about a Trolls World Tour viewing party?!).

Good business ideas are out there begging to be grabbed by the creative, the innovative, the wise. Those independent theater owners have a chance at surviving the pandemic.

The virtual playbook already exists. This might be one time where forced social distancing promotes virtual reality as an opportunity it’s never experienced before.

Virtual Screenings – what do YOU think?

Would/will you support your local independent theater through virtual screenings? Or do you, like me, think $12 (or so) VOD rentals, even when the theater gets to keep a meatier chunk of the ticket sale, isn’t quite enough in 2020?

Drive-Ins In Some Areas Are The Only Way To Watch New Movies Outside of Streaming

The closest drive-in theater to us was supposed to open on March 27 … it is now delayed

Last wrote about drive-in movie theaters in October 2019 (see: Drive-In Movie Theaters), and I just checked the closest drive-in theater to us in Washington State and it would have opened this coming weekend.

Nope.

That drive-in theater has decided to delay their planned March 27 opening date. So, we will not be able to take in any alternate drive-in movie option in our area, at least.

Other moviegoers elsewhere in the United States do have some drive-in theaters to visit. This is what’s making up the bulk of the domestic box office sales as of this writing.

Among Onward‘s top 30-grossing theaters this past weekend, drive-ins repped 25 of them. For Invisible Man, 20 out of its 30 theaters earned money from drive-ins, Call of the Wild‘s saw 15 out of 30, and Bloodshot 14 out of 30. All of Onward‘s top 20 theaters were drive-ins, led by the Glendale 9 in Glendale, AZ with close to $10K. 

Drive-Ins Still Selling Tickets At Box Office Wiped Out By Theater Closures: Coronavirus – Deadline

Do you have any open drive-in theaters near you? Would you go? Would think these experiences would provide decent social distancing — at least for the movie viewing portion, not so much for concessions.

About 5% of China Theaters Reopening

Hey, it might only be 5%, but it’s a start.

State media CGTN reported that 486 theaters were open for business on Friday. On Monday, financial publication Caixin said the number had risen to 507, representing less than 5% of all cinemas in commercial operation prior to the virus outbreak.

China Theaters Begin to Reopen as Coronavirus Threat Recedes – Variety

If we look at the timeline, China closed theaters first, about 45 days ago, so if they are starting to reopen as the virus recedes, then we’re about 45 days out in the United States from seeing the same situation occur here.

Meanwhile, in Washington state where we reside, they just put a two-week order for people in non-essential businesses to stay at home. Both of our regular jobs are considered essential, so this will have no impact on us, but just thought I’d throw that out there.

45 days. It gets better. Theaters reopening anywhere sounds like life starting to return to normal.

Collapsing Theatrical Windows Are Not The End Of Cinema Life As We Know It

A lot of doomsday news out there right now and it’s getting tougher to avoid and stay positive. I’ve been saying almost since this blog started that the theatrical window needed to be reduced (see: It’s Time To Shrink Theatrical Window To 30 Days). 90 days is too long to wait for streaming. We’re in a “now, now, now!” society and any business that doesn’t adapt will die.

I didn’t write about this in October with any vision that there would be this coronavirus forcing hands, but if the movie theater chains would have been more receptive to streaming six months ago, they’d better be able to sell streaming as an alternative viewing option now. Remember how they dug in and wouldn’t let The Irishman screen in theaters because Netflix wasn’t honoring the all-too-sacred theatrical window?

What comes around goes around.

Vudu is advertising movies as “theater at home” I like that graphic (see top of post), but don’t care as much for the slogan. It’s not theater at home and can’t be unless you have a decent sized room with theater seating, a giant TV screen and superb sound quality.

Some people do. Most of them are wealthy. For the rest of the world, these are merely movies that were meant to be in the theaters, but currently are available at home because there is no where else to show them.

Studios are trying to ring some cash register anywhere during the current virus climate.

While the on-demand model may work or at least mitigate the damage for some movies that are shut out of theaters due to the virus, Greenfield says,“the math really doesn’t work” for big films. For low-budget or mid-range movies, releasing them on demand remains a gamble — an exercise in trying to solve an equation when variables are unknown.

Coronavirus Forces Movie Studios to Reckon With Collapsing Theatrical Windows | Hollywood Reporter

I tend to agree that for films with budgets exceeding $100 million it’s not likely to be as profitable, which is why when theaters can reopen they will and the big tentpole movies will encourage people to return to theaters.

Speaking from my own point of view, I want the theatrical window to shrink so more new movies that aren’t wide releases can be available sooner. There are dozens of movies that don’t even show up in local theaters that we’re unable to see. A few of them I’ve profiled here that I really wanted to see — but couldn’t (yet). If those movies launched simultaneously in limited screenings and on demand streaming, I could see more of these new movies.

Will admit again, as have done several times before, that we aren’t average moviegoers. We’re extreme moviegoers. We’ve seen around 100 new movies in theaters in the last six months, when the average moviegoer sees 3-4 movies in theaters a year. We’re not the norm.

The bigger problem than the theatrical window is film budgets. Studios need to go back to being more penny-pinching with film budgets. This will make it easier to turn a profit no matter how they decide to release films. Simultaneously releases for say movies with $10 million and less budgets will allow studios to explore new income opportunites.

And theater chains needs to get with the program. AMC has an on-demand streaming division, but it seems to be left out of their current gloom and doom conversations. Why aren’t they getting more creative about these options right now, actively and excitedly promoting them?

AMC is promoting on their website “theater on demand” which is their version of VUDU’s Video On Demand rental service (you can buy Onward from Disney for $20). Personally, I don’t see as much value in a rental for $20, but do see buying the movie for $20 as worthwhile. Heck, throw in bonus and behind the scenes and it makes for an at home price even more attractive.

Instead, AMC, is out there moaning and groaning about all their fixed costs and $0 revenue coming in and how they need a loan to keep their business afloat.

Aren’t they making any money from their (“new”) streaming? Must be greater than $0. Something isn’t adding up here.