The average consumer outlay for tickets, from the National Association of Theatre Owners, is down 0.6% vs the same three-month period in 2013 — mostly due to a drop in attendance for premium-priced 3D and large-screen films. Box office for the quarter was down 6.6% as tentpole films including The Amazing Spider-Man 2, A Million Ways To Die In the West, and Captain America: The Winter Solider fell short of some analysts’ expectations. Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible, for one, noted that in Q2 “64% of tentpoles underperformed [his forecasts] and offset stronger performance by Maleficent, Transformers, 22 Jump Street and Godzilla.” The $8.33 average price in Q2 was up 4.6% vs the first three months of the year, a period when studios typically release few 3D films. Consumers paid an average of $8.13 for a movie ticket in 2013.
That’s up just 2 cents vs the same period in 2013, and down from $8.35 in Q4 according to domestic numbers out this morning from the National Association of Theater Owners. The drop from the end of the year mostly reflects the fact that theaters in Q1 were filled with kids’ films including Frozen, Mr. Peabody And Sherman, and The Lego Movie. They typically drive the ticket averages down because they include a lot of low-priced children’s tickets and matinees. Remember that several factors influence the average price — including how many people pay a premium to see a film in 3D or on an IMAX screen. The Q4 number included 3D hits with Warner Bros’ Gravity (80% of its domestic gross came from 3D venues) and The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, and Disney’s Thor: The Dark World. The quarter also had several popular films targeted to adults including Paramount’s The Wolf Of Wall Street and Sony’s American Hustle. The average outlay for a movie ticket in 2013 was $8.13.
It sure looks that way as exhibition and studio execs prepare to head to Las Vegas next week for the annual confab. There are no obvious, explosive controversies to address this time out — which is unusual. Since 2011, when the meeting formerly known as ShoWest became CinemaCon, “some big issue has blown up,” Cinemark CEO Tim Warner tells us. “I hope that doesn’t happen [this year] because the business is going so good.” Says National Association of Theatre Owners CEO John Fithian: “Sometimes we go into these conventions we go into this with one or two issues, but that’s not the case this year. We’ll be talking about product supply and movies, and how it relates to product returns. We’ll also be talking about technology.”
This all comes as the exhibition business is poised for dramatic, and possibly painful, changes as owners deal with consumers who say that ticket prices are too high, a creative community that wants better projection and sound quality, studios that want a bigger share of the box office pie, and investors who demand higher dividends.
Cheerleading is to be expected at a trade show, and there’s sure to be a lot as execs look ahead to a tsunami of sequels that could make 2015 a blowout year for box offices. Paramount, Universal, Sony, Fox and Warner Bros will show their product reels. Disney will feature its Jon Hamm-starring sports-themed Million Dollar Arm. Not to be outdone, Lionsgate will feature its sports-themed comedy-drama Draft Day from director Ivan Reitman and starring Kevin Costner, while Universal swings back around with a screening of the comedy Neighbors about newlyweds with a baby who must live next to a fraternity house. And filmmaker Chris Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) will take part in a discussion about his career. The late Tom Sherak will also be honored on Wednesday night at The Pioneers Dinner.
On broad-stroke matters, exhibitors can pretty much cross off their top concern from last year: the dearth of family-oriented titles in Q1 followed by a summer onslaught. Exhibitors wanted family films spaced out better. “We had encouraged the studios to think about that more, and they did,” Fithian says. Family fare from this year’s early months included The Nut Job, The Lego Movie, Mr. Peabody And Sherman, and — this weekend — Muppets Most Wanted.
There’s also been progress on exhibition’s call for more small- and medium-budget movies. As the six big studios cut their output by 40%,
Looks like Variety got carried away this afternoon with a story that says “several prominent exhibitors” are rejecting the National Association of Theatre Owners‘new voluntary guidelines calling for a two-minute cap on movie trailers. The site named two chains – Cinemark and AMC Entertainment — saying that their defection raises ”the question of why NATO is pushing the issue at all.” Just one thing: AMC denies the story’s claim that it “has reversed its position” after its rep on the NATO board voted for the new guidelines. “AMC Theatres is in full support of the voluntary NATO In-Theatre Marketing Guidelines, which at their core are about the more efficient and effective use of our industry’s marketing resources,” the company says. “Recently published letters, articles and commentary we’ve seen throughout the industry badly misrepresent the intent of these guidelines. As has always been our practice, this and all studio dealings will be handled directly with our distribution partners as we seek to maximize the box office performance of their films, and we expect that practice to continue.”
That’s one of several recommendations in the voluntary in-theater marketing guidelines released this morning by the National Association of Theatre Owners. ”These guidelines will evolve in response to technological innovations, marketing and advertising trends, competition in the marketplace, and consumer demands,” the trade group says. NATO wants trailers for a movie to run no more than 150 days before it’s released, with other in-theater marketing limited to 120 days — although each distributor would have two exemptions a year from those guidelines. NATO says that it will be the “information clearinghouse” for distributors to identify the films that they want to be exempt. Trailers for those releases still wouldn’t be able to exceed three minutes. In addition to the limits on timing, the NATO standards would require distributors to sit down with exhibitors to negotiate terms for showing special content — such as behind-the-scenes footage and extended looks. NATO also expands on the current ratings match policies saying that members “will only place trailers with content appropriate for the particular feature” following guidelines it has established with the MPAA. Trailers can’t include third-party brands or endorsements, for example for video games or TV shows, and can’t include direct response prompts including Internet URLs or codes that might “encourage mobile phone use during the show.” The standards would apply to films released on or after October 1, with an exception for movies that are already being advertised. Central to the rules is NATO’s conclusion that trailers “are played in the theaters at the discretion of each theater chain or individual theater owner.”
This is the highest average price we’ve seen in years. The National Association of Theater Owners‘ Q2 stat is +5.5% vs Q1, and +3.2% over last year’s Q2. NATO‘s numbers can be a little confusing: They represent the average consumer outlay for a ticket, not the average price of, say, a ticket for a conventional 2D film. The number often fluctuates to reflect the demand for premium priced 3D and large screen movies. And in Q2 there were more hits than in the period last year, as well as more hits released in IMAX or that ran in theater chains’ proprietary large screen formats. Some seven films generated more than $100M at domestic box offices in Q2 vs three that did so in the same period last year. Overall box office sales were +7.8% year-over-year helped by crowd-pleasers including Disney’s Iron Man 3, Warner Bros’ Man Of Steel, and Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Combined with the average $7.94 ticket price in Q1, NATO says that theaters typically charged $8.16 in the first half of 2013.
The National Association of Theatre Owners met with resistance from some studios when it went to the majors with a controversial set of movie trailer guidelines last week. It wants studios to limit trailers to two minutes, down 30 seconds from the MPAA-set standard, and to only advertise films within a four-month pre-release window. NATO-repped theater owners want more control over the promos that run ahead of movies and argue that shorter trailers will make moviegoing more appealing to audiences. Exhibitors would then have extra promo time to use as they choose, whether that means squeezing in additional trailers, house ads, or other inventory. But some distribution pros tell me it’s purely a money-driven move designed to squeeze more revenue out of pre-roll programming they fear could hurt studio marketing efforts.
“PG-13 represents the sweet spot” for theaters, National Association of Theater Owners CEO John Fithian told a CinemaCon audience this morning. Last year there were only about a third as many PG films as R-rated ones, but they collectively generated nearly equal box office sales. The message: “Make more family friendly films and fewer R-rated titles,” Fithian says. “Americans have stated their choice.” He also wants studios to spread out their releases instead of focusing on holidays. “Any month can produce a $100M movie” he says noting the success Warner Bros had in October with Argo, Sony had in August with The Bourne Legacy, and Lionsgate had in March with The Hunger Games. “In most if not all of those cases, distribution in off months produced higher returns.”
The exhibition trade show chief also says that studios focus too much on men, and need to make more films for women and minorities. For example, Latinos are the top movie goers on a per capita basis. Fithian says that theaters are doing their part by diversifying the concessions they offer. “In many locations it is not dinner and a movie, it’s dinner at the movies.” And he …
LAS VEGAS – MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd delivered remarks today at CinemaCon, the annual National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) convention. During his address, Senator Dodd together with NATO President John Fithian revealed a new campaign intended to remind parents about the important tools at their disposal which allow them to make educated decisions about content appropriate for their children.
This is a fun announcement for the exhibition industry in the lead-up to next week’s CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas. Cinedigm and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) say that the company will help more than 100 drive-in movie theatres make the transition from 35 mm celluloid to digital projection. It will work with NATO’s Cinema Buying Group (CBG), which helps independent theater owners. “Cinedigm and NATO’s collaborative efforts – similar to our CBG program for traditional movie theatres — have once again played a significant role in bringing these theatres into the digital age,” says NATO chief John Fithian. For the digital projection to work in drive-ins, the groups needed to team up with the United Drive-In Theater Owners Association and secure some exceptions to the Digital Cinema Initiatives specifications for the technology. It means that “the unique movie-going experience outdoor exhibitors offer will continue for generations to come,” says UDITOA President John Vincent Jr. Cinedigm says it hopes to sign additional drive in theaters next week to preserve what VP Business Affairs Alison Choppelas calls “such an important piece of Americana.”
Attendance takes off when there’s a diversity of films and it was “just not there” in the beginning of 2013, National Association of Theater Owners chief John Fithian said in a conference call to discuss the MPAA’s report on business trends in 2012. “We have not performed as well as we’d like, we’re down about 12%….If you look at January in particular we had a lot of movies rated R that included a lot of violence. And those movies can sell, but not when that’s all you’ve got to offer.” The dearth of family fare in early 2013 contrasts with the last few months of 2012 when “we had comedies, we had dramas, we had family and we were up over 15% in that quarter.” Looking ahead, though, he’s “pretty confident about the remainder of 2013.” The upturn won’t take place right away: Last year had an outsized success with Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games. ”That was a $400M picture out of nowhere,” Fithian says. But by summer “the comps are strong and the fall period is strong, too. In 2012 our summer and fall were not record breaking types of numbers. It was the first quarter in 2012 that was out of control record breaking.”
This statement was just released by the National Association of Theater Owners, the exhibition trade group:
“On behalf of all the members and staff of the National Association of Theatre Owners, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this despicable act and their families. We are grateful for the quick and effective response by police and emergency personnel. Guest safety is, and will continue to be a priority for theater owners. NATO members are working closely with local law enforcement agencies and reviewing security procedures.”
(Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain and North Hollywood, Calif., USA, June 20, 2012) — The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) announced today that Jerry Pierce, former Senior Vice President of Universal Pictures and Founder/Chairman of Inter-Society’s Digital Cinema Forum (ISDCF), will begin advising and consulting for NATO on technology issues starting July 1, 2012.
The fight over Bully continues, with the National Association of Theatre Owners now making its own threats. News came out last week that the MPAA upheld its R-rating for The Weinstein Company’s Tribeca 2011 doc about school bullying and since then the Weinstein Co has considered releasing the doc unrated and even to boycott the MPAA altogether, a move could have implications for its future releases. If TWC indeed goes ahead with releasing the film unrated, NATO said today in a letter to Weinstein boss Harvey Weinstein that it will urge members to consider the Lee Hirsch-directed film an NC-17 movie. In the letter (see below), NATO president and CEO John Fithian said he would “have no choice but to encourage my theater owner members to treat unrated movies from The Weinstein Company in the same manner as they treat unrated movies from anyone else. In most cases, that means enforcement as though the movies were rated NC-17 — where no one under the age of 18 can be admitted even with accompanying parents or guardians.”
The average moviegoer paid $7.93 for a ticket last year — just 4 cents more than in 2010, the smallest year-over-year increase since 1994 when prices fell 1.4% — according to data released today by the National Association of Theatre Owners. But another new statistic may strike exhibitors as more ominous: Consumers paid an average of $7.83 in the last three months of the year, down 2.2% from the same period in 2010. The data provide yet more evidence of the overall anemia in the business last year: Total admissions dropped 4.6% to 1.28B and moviegoers spent $10.5B, down 0.6%, according to estimates from SNL Kagan. “It’s been a tough economy for three years now and people are watching their dollars,” says NATO Director of Media & Research Patrick Corcoran. For example, he notes that admissions have been up on Tuesdays, when many theaters offer lower prices than they do on weekends. Ticket prices were up 5.2% in 2010 and 4.5% in 2009.
Is the price of movie tickets falling? Of course not. It may not look that way in 3Q: The average amount that consumers spent was $7.94, down from $8.06 in 2Q, the National Association of Theatre Owners reports today. But the numbers tend to bounce around from quarter to quarter, due in part to whether there are 3D films compelling enough to lead consumers to pay up for the higher-priced tickets. Last quarter was light, although it included Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Disney’s The Lion King 3D. The pricing picture becomes clearer when you step back to look at averages over time: The average for the first nine months of 2011 is $7.96, up 1% from all of 2010 and 6% from 2009. Regal also recently reported that its average ticket price was $8.78 in 3Q, up 1.9% vs the same period last year.
Creative America, the coalition formed by labor unions, guilds, studios and networks that launched in July, said today that it has kicked off awareness campaign as well as a redesigned website. The group also said the AFL-CIO, the Association of Talent Agents, the Copyright Alliance, Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, FilmL.A., the National Association of Theatre Owners, the Producers Guild of America and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society have joined the cause since its formation. The new campaign includes a PSA on NBCUniversal networks that we just saw on CNBC. Here it is:
(Washington, D.C. and North Hollywood, Calif., October 14, 2011) – The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) announced today the election of new officers by the Executive Board of Directors at the association’s annual meeting, October 5-6, at the Park Hyatt hotel in Washington, D.C.
Elected to two-year terms were – S. David Passman, III, President and CEO, Carmike Cinemas, Inc., as Chairman; Nora Dashwood, Chief Brand Officer, Pacific Theatres/ArcLight Cinemas, as Vice-Chairperson; Byron Berkley, President, Foothills Entertainment Co., as Treasurer; and re-elected as Secretary, Mark O’Meara, President, University Mall Theatres.
Sony’s warning that it will stop subsidizing 3D glasses is “bluster over substance,” Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett says today. He’s struck that the National Association of Theatre Owners is vigorously opposing the idea while he’s heard no word — publicly or privately — about whether Warner Bros or Paramount might back Sony. “With theaters united and studios split, we see little chance of a studio victory,” Crockett says. What’s more, there’s “little chance” that consumers will be “stuck with big extra charges.” He raises the possibility of a compromise in which theaters would benefit from lower-cost distribution for the glasses, while studios reduce their payments — now at about 50 cents a pair — and consumers kick in about 25 cents a pair. “But even that seems unlikely,” he says. The analyst has a “buy” recommendation on Cinemark and National CineMedia but is “neutral” on Regal Entertainment.