As Netflix, Amazon and other streamers compete for best picture at the Oscars this weekend, exhibitors will be placing bets on tech giants sending more of their movies to theaters rather than their online services.
“They’ve been outlining plans for a while to get more into theatrical distribution and that’s really starting to happen now,” said Sean Gamble, CEO of Cinemark, of online retailer Amazon delivering on plans to spend $1 billion a year on theatrical releases. . after acquiring MGM Studios for $8.45 billion.
Ben Affleck’s upcoming sports drama SKY from Amazon Studios will hit theaters around the world on April 5, ahead of its debut on Amazon’s Prime Video. Gamble, speaking at an appearance at the Morgan Stanley TMT Investor Conference on Tuesday, pointed to other theatrical release experiments by streamers, including Netflix’s Glass Onion: A Mystery of the Blades a week of limited play in movie theaters before moving to video-on-demand.
They said they thought they had put money on the table. … We were certainly disappointed that they didn’t leverage a larger theatrical release just because of the overwhelming consumer demand,” he said of Netflix at the investor conference.
But Gamble quickly took the high road when he added Netflix and his Glass onion follow-up release in theaters: “We see it as a positive step forward and we remain optimistic that over time they will benefit from major theatrical releases simply because there is a lot of value to be had there.”
The Cinemark boss also pointed out that Apple recently hired Disney veteran Ricky Strauss as the tech giant looks to grow its TV streaming division and possibly its movie release efforts in theaters.
“Apple has shown the same interest in getting into the theater space. It provides a great promotional platform for these movies,” Gamble argued, pointing to Apple’s decision to release Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the flower moon theatrically, with Paramount as distribution partner.
As Cinemark, like other major exhibitors, appears to continue to recover from the pandemic in terms of box office and attendance numbers, Gamble discussed whether its recent success in raising ticket prices and concession stand sales amid inflationary pressures in the US economy sustainable.
“Maybe we will see some of that in the future. But at this point, there’s no indication of a slowdown,” he said of Cinemark’s per-customer concession which hit a record high of $7.43 in the recent fourth quarter, up 39 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019 , as consumers turn to the food and drink more often.
And Gamble added that Cinemark will continue to experiment with ticket pricing to generate more revenue in 2023. to believe they are getting a good price when they go to the multiplex.