Why are Regal movie theaters upset about VOD movies?
Regal Cinemas is one of the biggest theater chains around, trailing just behind AMC. Cineworld (Regal’s parent company), made the not-at-all surprising admission the company had seen a major drop in revenue during the first half of 2020. With the need to shut down all of their theaters worldwide there wasn’t much of a way for the company to make a profit.
Now, Regal is doing its best to reopen all of their theaters – at this point, most of the ones still closed are in the U.S. – 561 of their 778 theaters have been reopened, but 200 of the movie theaters awaiting reopening are in the United States – with just a handful of others in the UK and Israel awaiting the okay to open.
So, what’s Regal’s plan going forward? Here’s what we know.
At one point, despite being a giant in the movie theater industry, Regal had warned that they could potentially go out of business because of the pandemic if they weren’t able to negotiate new terms with their money lenders.
However, it appears the company received a covenant waiver in May. “Covenant waiver” is essentially just a fancy legal term that means an entity which is owed money waives their right to demand payment due to a contract breach.
So, for now, the company isn’t on the same shaky ground it was a mere couple of months into the pandemic, which is good. Though they’re still not where they’d like to be.
Now that Regal is reopening their locations, they’re hoping people will flock to their movie theaters in order to see the newest hottest films being released. However, production companies are, for the most part, being a lot more hesitant about diving back into movie distribution head first.
So far, the only anticipated blockbuster that’s gone ahead with a theater-only release is Christopher Nolan’s Tenet – movies such as Black Widow and Mulan (notably both owned by Disney) are holding back. The CEO of Cineworld even admitted he was “not happy” about the fact Mulan received a VOD release, skipping theaters altogether. Cineworld also openly criticized the VOD release of Trolls World Tour, which happened back in spring.
Obviously, hotly anticipated movies avoiding theatrical release is a big issue for movie theaters, more so than anyone else. Without a product people are looking forward to it isn’t likely many are going to venture into a closed space with strangers for two or more hours.
It’s likely that until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine, many people will be avoiding the superfluous (albeit enjoyable) experience of watching new movies in a public space. As such, movie studios aren’t really willing to distribute their films until they’re confident they can make a good return on their investments.
This had led to films such as A Quiet Place Part 2, Wonder Woman 1984, and more prospective blockbusters to hold off on their theatrical releases indefinitely. If anything keeping these movies in a proverbial vault is just going to make people even more ravenous for the films once they do finally premiere.
However, this also means that Regal, AMC, and more theater companies are hurting. Both AMC and Regal are currently filling their empty slots with steeply discounted showings of classics movies and popular family films, while doing their best to assure potential customers their new COVID-19 guidelines and measures are more than enough to keep everyone safe.
Despite delays, Regal is looking forward to November when No Time to Die, the latest installment of the James Bond franchise & Daniel Craig’s last outing in the lead role, is set to debut. Though, if Tenet’s box office numbers are any indication, it looks as if, on the whole, consumers are extremely hesitant to attend theater showings in the U.S., though international numbers were fairly good.
What do you think? When was the last time you went to a movie theater? When do you think you’re likely to go back to a theater? Let us know in the comments below!