A Variety of Movies is Critical for Box Office

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Michael O’Leary, the new president and CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners, is encouraging Hollywood to think smaller.
But O’Leary is urging the major studios to prioritize more than just the tentpole properties that prop up the box office.
Those mega-budgeted films are great, of course, but he believes that a “variety of movies that appeal to moviegoers is critical” to the survival of the box office.
This is the first CinemaCon for O’Leary, who joined NATO in 2023 from the video game trade organization Entertainment Software Association.
It’s a change of pace from their pandemic-era strategy to shorten the theatrical window and bring movies more quickly to streaming services.
Despite the smash success of “Barbenheimer” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and other 2023 blockbusters, the box office has yet to restore its pre-pandemic glory.
As a result, movie theater analysts don’t expect the industry to recover until 2025 (at best).
He estimates that online piracy costs theater owners more than $1 billion at the box office.

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Hollywood is being urged to think smaller by Michael O’Leary, the National Association of Theater Owners’ new president and CEO.

He is just as passionate about Marvel, “Mission: Impossible,” and “Fast and Furious” as the next exhibitor, so don’t misunderstand him. O’Leary, however, is pleading with the big studios to give their films more consideration than just the blockbuster hits that drive revenue. Of course, those big-budget movies are fantastic, but he thinks that the box office’s survival depends on having a “variety of movies that appeal to moviegoers.”.

At Tuesday morning’s CinemaCon, the annual trade show in Las Vegas, he stated, “We need to have a strong and vibrant market for movies with smaller or medium-sized budgets—it is not enough to rely solely on blockbusters.”. As recent examples of mid-budget successes, he cited Cord Jefferson’s Oscar-winning literary satire “American Fiction,” the romantic drama “Past Lives,” and the Japanese action-adventure “Godzilla Minus One.”.

After leaving the video game trade association Entertainment Software Association in 2023 to join NATO, this is O’Leary’s first CinemaCon. Ever since assuming the role of primary lobbyist for the exhibition industry, he claims that Warner Bros. and additional distributors have expressed their dedication to the big screen “repeatedly.”. This is a deviation from their pandemic-era plan to release films onto streaming platforms sooner and reduce the duration of the theatrical run.

Speaking from Caesars Palace’s Colosseum Theatre, O’Leary stated, “We know that a movie that begins its journey with theatrical exclusivity is more successful in every subsequent ancillary platform.”. This ought to pique the interest of both those looking to profit financially and those hoping to reach the widest audience for their films. “.

O’Leary emphasized that the owners of movie theaters are in desperate need of financial support. Notwithstanding the phenomenal success of “The Super Mario Bros.” and “Barbenheimer,”. The box office still hasn’t recovered to its pre-pandemic level despite “Movie” and other 2023 blockbusters. After Hollywood was forced to postpone several blockbusters due to last year’s strikes, exhibitors are now facing yet another scarcity of big-screen releases. Movie theater analysts therefore predict that the industry won’t recover until, at most, 2025.

It’s not novel, but maintaining a steady pace with the growing demands of the film industry does cost money. Additionally, investing in the gifted individuals who manage the cutting-edge theaters around the nation and the globe is a wise decision, according to our friends in the financial sector, said O’Leary. “Increasing the amount of capital in the system will help everyone—creatives, studios, exhibitions, local communities, and, above all, moviegoers. “.

Charles Rivkin, the CEO and chairman of the Motion Picture Association, also emphasized the risks of piracy to the industry during Tuesday’s State of the Industry speech. He calculates that the box office losses to theater owners as a result of internet piracy exceed $1 billion. Thus, the MPA is concentrating on collaborating with Congressmen to “pass legislation here in the United States that blocks judicial sites.”. “.

He told the assembly of movie theater owners and studio executives that site blocking breaks the link between pirates and their target audiences. He maintains that this procedure would only affect websites that host illegal content, and that “detailed evidence” would be necessary to identify such websites, and that those who violate the law would be able to face justice.

Site-blocking is a widely used tactic in nearly 60 nations, he claimed, including many of the United States’ closest allies and prominent democracies. “There’s no justification for our conspicuous absence. Nothing more than a deficiency of political will combined with antiquated notions of what site-blocking is, isn’t, and who gets affected by it. “.

Despite the challenging realities of the market, O’Leary took the stage once more to conclude the opening remarks of CinemaCon 2024 and reiterate his optimism about the movie theater industry’s future.

“This industry has a limited future,” he stated before realizing his error in judgment. “Oh, infinite, I guess. “.

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