Regal Closes All US Theaters, Suspends Billing for Unlimited Pass Customers

This is a sad day for movie theater fans. Finding a movie to play in a theater — any theater — in any United States city? Difficult, perhaps soon to be impossible. AMC and Regal Cinemas have closed all their U.S theaters.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter they expect most, if not all, cinemas in the U.S. to follow suit and go dark in the coming days, much as in Europe and parts of Asia. Regal is the first U.S. circuit to make a blanket announcement.

Regal to Close All U.S. Theaters Indefinitely Amid Coronavirus Pandemic | Hollywood Reporter

We’re down in Las Vegas right now and yesterday we caught — literally — the last showing of The Hunt ⭐️⭐️ at 4:30pm at the Boulder Station casino in Las Vegas. We then tried to go down to the Palace Station for the Cinebarre and it was already closed (see sign above).

We received a note from our Regal Unlimited app that they are suspending billing temporarily. We were both wondering if we’d be billed $42 USD for the month when there were no movies we could see, even if we wanted. Turns out that Regal already has planned this out. Good for them. We wish the theaters were still open, but appreciate not being charged for something we are now unable to use.

Unconfirmed as of this writing, but I believe Cinemark theaters in Las Vegas are still open — they are showing movie times as of moments ago — so movies can still be seen in those theaters, but who knows how much longer they’ll hold out.

MGM has closed down their 14 properties on the strip in Vegas, and that alone feels weird. Even during 9/11, which by the way, we were also in Las Vegas, everything stayed open.

How long will these theater closures last? We tried asking questions but even the employees we spoke to were told nothing. Only that they needed to close and there were no answers as to when the theaters would reopen.

Sad, sad days.

Will Social Distancing by Movie Theaters Truly Provide More Protection Against Viral Infection?

Will admit that I kind of laughed when I first learned abut “social distancing” by the movie theaters.

I mean, really, it’s like people going into a frenzy over buying toilet paper and water at the grocery store. They are putting themselves at greater risk by shopping where there are tons of people. The more people you’re around, the greater chance you’ll encounter someone infected, therefore increasing the chance you’ll be infected.

CEO and President Adam Aron said, “With this action, we are facilitating the ‘social distance’ between guests who still want to see movies on a big screen.”

AMC capping ticket sales in effort to prevent spread of COVID-19 | Coronavirus | kctv5.com

Theory is nice, but that’s about it for practicality. If we’re using common sense, anyway.

Come on, if someone coughs into the air somewhere inside the theater … the particles will circulate throughout the theater (we saw this graphically depicted on film in the movie Outbreak, see: Outbreak (1995) Trending on Netflix). What we need is some sort of self-contained suit when we enter the movie theater to truly, fully protected against infection by an infected moviegoer.

Yeah, i know, not practical to have a containment zone, spray, then climb into a suit breathing only air from a tank, but that would be the only way virtually guaranteed not to catch an airborne virus.

(still have risk of hole in suit)

I’m no expert, but putting two seats between each moviegoer to protect against an airborne virus inside a room is like using a broken condom and hoping you’ll have some added protection.

Fresh air and not being in the proximity of anybody who is infected is the only thing that protects us against being infected. When they quarantined all those people on the cruise ship, those who weren’t sick were almost certainly guaranteed to get sick breathing all the same reconstituted air of other infected passengers.

I like the Wynn Casino idea of thermal scanning of anybody entering the casino. Those with an abnormally high body temperature — a known virus symptom — will be discreetly asked to leave. Now, that is protecting other patrons and a smart use of technology.

When we visit movie theaters, even when there was no virus threat (let’s face it, in flu season that has never been a reality), we typically attend during off busy times (besides opening nights of course). Matinees, day time, when traffic is reduced. This does more to protect us from infection than social distancing.

We’re still going to see movies, regardless the risk, because if we catch the virus, we’re both healthy and don’t have any major illnesses. If I was a little older and had some health issues I’d stay home, stay away from people in gathered locations as much as humanly possible. Wouldn’t go shopping (I’d have it delivered and left outside) then when the delivery person is gone, I’d pick it up. I would go into hermit mode, which would be my advice for anybody old and sick. But then I’d give those people the same advice during any flu season. Stay away from others as much as possible.

People die every day for a wide variety of reasons. This particular virus outbreak is being handled with a degree of panic never seen before. Panic will not help anybody. Calm, reasonable response to the situation will. Take a deep breath, the experts will find a vaccine and in a few months — hopefully — this will all be behind us.

Meanwhile, stay vigilant. That’s great advice no matter what is going on the world around us.

Opening 3-12-2020 in Theaters: Bloodshot, The Hunt, I Still Believe

Wednesday! Week #11 of 2020 (3/12-3/15/2020). We get the 7-11 store equivalent of a Big Gulp of wide release movies this week.

Vin Diesel starring as Valiant Comics superhero Bloodshot, the only non-Disney/Marvel and non-DC movie based on a comic book character. A movie that was dropped from release in 2019 for being too politically incorrect about hunting people. Another movie, this one faith-based, from a true story about a popular country singer-songwriter who falls in love and has his faith challenged by tragic illness.

Bloodshot
[FIRST LOOK]

I’m intrigued by the trailer and Vin Diesel in an adaptation of a comic book character. This seems like a darker story, not Joker-dark, but somewhere between Batman and Joker.

Anticipation: 7/10

The Hunt
[FIRST LOOK]

Don’t know why I enjoy stories about humans being hunted in a safari-like setting, but this premise is appealing to me. My concerns are more about how much politics play into this. The President made this movie out to be a political hit job on conservatives. I will be bummed out if this goes down some preachy path.

For that reason alone, I’m slightly less interested in this than Bloodshot.

Anticipation: 6/10

I Still Believe
[FIRST LOOK]

Regal Cinemas sent me an early screening in IMAX offer for this one. I kind of wish this would have been released in/around Valentine’s Day. Some might be turned off by the religious undertones, but I think that could be a powerful part of the picture. Ready the tissues, this could be a real tear-jerker.

Anticipation: 4/10

ANTICIPATION for Week #11: 3/12/20 MOVIES

How much on scale of 1-10 anticipating the 3-12-2020 movies?

  1. Bloodshot – 7/10
  2. The Hunt – 6/10
  3. I Still Believe – 4/10

Are there screenings in our area to see these movies?

The movies are confirmed wide screenings available at theaters in our area with screenings available starting on 3/12/20. As mentioned above, I Still Believe has one advance IMAX showing tonight at 7pm. That is a conflict with my work schedule, so not sure I’ll be able to make it, but am interested. Also, not sure why IMAX would be necessary for the film, but maybe it would be worth seeing. All will be watched, rated and reviewed.

Mark Pearson Hired As AMC Chief Strategy Officer – NOW is the time for creative streaming options

I’ve been mentioning that the timing is right to do something about shortening the theatrical window and at least during the current virus situation consider eliminating the window altogether in some geographic territories (IE. India, China).

Yes, there will be pirating. There still is now, even without streaming. Everybody’s afraid of the pirates destroying the world. As wider bandwidth increases, movies will be pirated in greater numbers regardless if there are legal options or not. I say get ahead of the pirates and offer moviegoers legal means to stream new release movies. If this kills off the theater chains because nobody will go to the movies for just overpriced concessions, than so be it.

I don’t believe this will happen any time soon. Yes, it will happen someday. Movie theaters as we know them today are living on borrowed time.

The wall against shortening the theatrical window is crumbling. Movie theaters need to accept and embrace that they have a social meeting place environment, not just a theater that shows movies on a giant screen. Understand what they are selling is that most people cannot get (easily) this experience at home.

Yes, more affluent people can setup a theater in their mansion, outbuilding or converted garage, then supply it with an HD projector or giant screen LCD and buy a commercial popcorn maker. Then they need to invite family, friends and associates to come and sit in the theater to watch movies … face it, even with the money and physical space, the logistics aren’t there.

Also, there’s the whole point of leaving your house to go somewhere with your significant other. There is a world outside home and it is good to get out and explore it. Staying home is all well and good, but it’s not the same.

Could we buy a super comfy giant recliner seat and put this in our home? Sure. Would we? Probably not. When we go to the movies, we prefer these seats over the traditional bucket theater seats. Once you’ve tried them, you’ll never want to sit in the others

Sell the differences, movie theater chains. Tell us about your whiz bang comfy recliner seats (pictured above) or just follow the link.

Where am I going with all of this? AMC has hired someone new in a “strategic” role. When I think of successful strategists at companies, I think of people that think outside the box.

Sometimes way outside the box. Bigger risk, bigger rewards.

“Mark is media-world savvy, has extensive strategy and business development experience and is highly regarded within the Hollywood community. He is the perfect person to help AMC continue to innovate and create opportunities that benefit our existing studio partners, emerging streaming power houses, our customers and our shareholders,” Aron said. He said Pearson’s “considerable experience in the SVOD space will greatly help AMC to create partnerships with streaming services including those from both established and emerging players.”

AMC Entertainment Hires Mark Pearson As Chief Strategy Officer – Deadline

AMC, Regal and other big movie theaters need to sell what they have better. Perhaps this is what Mark Pearson is being hired to do at AMC(?) but my gut feeling is Mark will never see this blog or my words. He’ll probably be insulated by assistants who wouldn’t dare do anything except get him Starbucks, but maybe one of them — just maybe — will come across this post and others I’ve made about the need to shrink the theatrical window for their business future survival.

Get ahead of the beast. Do what the giant record companies didn’t feel they needed to do. Listen to your customers. Give them what they want.

Listen or go out of business.

And just so it’s clear: I have seen every wide release movie released since August 12, 2019 in theaters. Would I watch some of them through a streaming option if they were available that way through our unlimited membership? Yes. So, that would cannibalize some of their concession sales from me.

I’d be OK with a surcharge home convenience fee whenever I chose that because just getting in the car to drive to the theater and back costs at least some $$ gas $$. If I can stay home and stream movies for $2-4 each (in addition to my monthly unlimited fee), you bet I would. Am sure others would do so, too.

Sure, there are downsides to home streaming options. You can’t sell individual tickets in someone’s house. The stream comes in and a dozen or more people could see it for the single stream. Technology with facial recognition could help ensure that each person in the audience has a virtual “ticket” and thus that is one way to get around making sure the audience has all paid for a ticket, even if it’s streaming. This would work for small in-home theater audiences, but cumbersome for larger group settings.

The technology to do what I described exists. Would some custom programming be required? Sure. Would it be 100% fullproof and invulnerable to theft/cheat/scam/pirating? No.

The point I’m making is the studios are missing a huge business opportunity. They seem to be just waiting out this virus problem, hoping it will end soon and people will start going to the movies again in the same numbers when — RIGHT NOW — they could sell newer streaming movies inside the current 90 day theatrical window, especially in geographic areas like China and India where moviegoers that want to see these movies can’t.

If you have people wanting to buy your product and can’t, its time to roll up those sleeves and fill the need. Mark Pearson, hopefully, you’re listening.

Opening 3-5-2020 in Theaters: Onward, The Way Back, First Cow

Wednesday! Week #10 of 2020 (3/5-3/8/2020).

This week we get an animated treat from Pixar involving a search for the top half of their father so they can spend one day with him, a basketball coach tries to rehabilitate his drinking problem and his team, and a movie about — and don’t have one (who knows where that comes from: “Don’t have a cow, man.”?) — a cow.

Yes, a cow.

But, first, let’s go …

Onward
[FIRST LOOK]

Onward official trailer #1
Onward official trailer #2

First and foremost we want to be entertained and Pixar has a proven track record of producing entertaining films. The story here seems quirky and offbeat, but not cliched. Looking very forward to watching this one.

Anticipation for Onward: 7/10

The Way Back
[FIRST LOOK]

The Way Back official trailer #1
The Way Back official trailer #2

Ben Affleck has been in some good movies and he’s got the acting chops, but this alcoholic former basketball player turned coach story could go either way for me. It doesn’t look like the team is going to have the personality or comedy of The Bad News Bears and this doesn’t seem like Hoosiers either.

Anticipation for The Way Back: 5/10

First Cow
[FIRST LOOK]

When I wrote the COMING SOON for this movie, my anticipation was 0/10. I find the whole idea of watching a movie about a cow similar to watching paint dry, however, I’ve been wrong about movies I’ve expected to strongly dislike, so I’m bumping my anticipation up from zero to one. Surprise me, cow. MOoove me. Yeah, yeah, stop throwing the rotten banana peels.

Anticipation for First Cow: 1/10

ANTICIPATION for Week #10: 3/5/20 MOVIES

How much on scale of 1-10 anticipating the 3-5-2020 movies?

  1. Onward – 7/10
  2. The Way Back – 5/10
  3. First Cow – 1/10

Are there screenings in our area to see these movies?

We’re going to be in Las Vegas this week, not our home area, so we’ll be checking out screenings there. We’re planning on seeing Onward in 4DX + 3D and The Way Back in standard 2D format, but have not found if First Cow is playing anywhere nearby. At least two of the three will be watched, rated and reviewed.

Upcoming Movies Watchlist in 4DX at Red Rock Regal Cinema Las Vegas + D-BOX and DFX Experience Search

Showing on Wednesday 3/4/2020 at Red Rock Regal Cinema in 4DX

The Regal Red Rock movie theater opened in May 2019. We last visited Las Vegas in September to experience the theater and this week will be visiting there again.

Our goal is to see two movies at least in 4DX format. The first will be the animated My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising.

The second, Onward, will premiere on Thursday 3/5/2020 in 4DX 3D at 9:30pm.

Then we’re coming home on Saturday and Kara flies back to Vegas on Sunday for business. I’ll be joining her a week later for vacation and hoping to catch another new release in 4DX, this one a sequel I’m looking very forward to:

Showing on Thursday 3/19/2020 at Red Rock Regal Cinema in 4DX

Hopefully, we can catch another bonus 4DX showing or two, if they are available. The week between my Vegas visits, four new movies are being widely released: Bloodshot (why isn’t that in 4DX?), The Hunt, My Spy and I Still Believe. Two, Bloodshot and My Spy, arguably three (if you include The Hunt) could be the type of movie that would work well in 4DX format.

As I search around the Bloodshot film. It is being offered in the following formats:

D-BOX? What is that? Cousin of XBox?

Had to do a double-take on “D-BOX” because that isn’t a format I’m familiar with (see: Different Enhanced Screening Audio and Video Theater Experiences). Google to the rescue.

The official D-BOX website: http://tech.d-box.com/entertainment/ has the details.

D-BOX redefines and creates hyper-realistic, immersive entertainment experiences by moving the body and sparking the imagination through motion. This expertise is one of the reasons why D-BOX have collaborated with some of the best companies in the world to deliver new ways to enhance great stories. Whether it’s movies, video games, virtual reality applications, themed entertainment or professional simulation, D-BOX mission is to move the world.

About D-BOX

The format has been around longer than 4DX, but is similar, at least in how the seats move based upon activity in the movie. A Google search brought up several Las Vegas area theaters — not Regal, it seems — showing movies in D-BOX format, including at least one dinner theater! Yay.

Google Map search results for “D-BOX theaters in Las Vegas

Adding this to my to-do list to possibly see Bloodshot in D-BOX. Maybe some theater somewhere in Las Vegas offers a D-BOX movie experience.

Sonic is showing in Las Vegas in D-BOX format … this is a strong possibility too!

Just when you think as a moviegoer you might know all the formats, there is another format screening:

What is DFX format? I don’t know, but it’s at the same theater as Sonic in D-BOX format

DFX is Dolby Atmos sound in Galaxy theaters.

Can’t say we’ve ever been to a Galaxy theater and listening to Dolby Atmos sound is on the list. We have seen RPX format at Regal (see: First Ever RPX Experience Review Terminator: Dark Fate) which is a variation on the format.

Looks like we’ll have several titles in multiple different formats to explore and experience while in Las Vegas. I’ve made a preliminary list including when and where these special format movies are showing while we’re in town.

List of movies to see in special formats (if possible) while visiting Las Vegas

  • WED 3/4/2020 – My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising – 4DX @ Red Rock Regal Theater
  • THU 3/5/2020 – Onward – 4DX + 3D @ Red Rock Regal Theater
  • THU 3/5/2020 – Sonic The Hedgehog – D-BOX @ Galaxy Theater
  • THU 3/5/2020 – The Invisible Man – DFX @ Galaxy Theater
  • Bloodshot – D-BOX ???
  • THU 3/19/2020 – A Quiet Place Part II – 4DX @ Red Rock Regal Theater

Do you like seeing movies in special formats? Which one do you prefer? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Opening 2-28-2020 in Theaters: The Invisible Man (2020)

Wednesday, week #9 of 2020 (2/27-2/29/2020), is the third weekend with only one wide screen release of the year so far. The first was week #1 with The Grudge, followed by the beginning of this month week #5 with Birds of Prey.

These one movie only weekends feel strange to me. Why aren’t studios releasing more movies? Of all the studios making movies, how/why can there only be one movie being wide released? And yet if you look at the streaming world, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Would be lying if I wrote that I’m looking that forward to see what Blumhouse has done with …

The Invisible Man (2020)
[FIRST LOOK]

Blumhouse visibly imagines The Invisible Man, opening wide in 3,500+ screens on 2/27/2020

The original The Invisible Man ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️(1933) is one of my favorite Universal Monsters movies. Black and white, Claude Rains, it’s more than just a classic, read my review by clicking the title. So, how do you remake a movie that was essentially perfect? You can’t.

I suspect what will be done is to tell a similar story, taking the essence of the original and spinning it a new way. This is the formula that Blumhouse has done with other familiar IP. In some cases it’s sort of worked and most others, at least for me, it hasn’t. Their formula appears to be business savvy in the current moviegoer climate: lower budget (single digit millions), remake/reboot familiar IP, often incorporating social themes.

This leaves my anticipation for this film pretty low overall. I’m not close-minded to it being entertaining, I hope that every film I see — regardless of the director, producers, actors involved, trailer or story info — is something I’ll enjoy.

Anticipation: 2/10

Are you looking forward to seeing The Invisible Man (2020)? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

There is one other bonus movie screening, LIMITED release, that I haven’t profiled here yet, Impractical Jokers: The Movie. I’m planning on seeing this, although i really know nothing about it. It’s from TruTV and Funny or Die and sort of just dropped in. It’s only showing in two local Regal Cinemas theaters near us. Anybody else reading seen this movie? What do you know about it?

Next week, there are three movies according to Box Office Mojo being wide released: Onward [FIRST LOOK], The Way Back [FIRST LOOK] and First Cow from A24. We will be in Las Vegas and screening Onward, hopefully, in 4DX.