It seems as though the wider film industry has finally realized what exhibitors have known for a long time, that audiences will only show up at theatres to watch quality movies available exclusively at theatres.
This year, studios have emphasized the “only in theatres” tagline on ads for all their theatrical releases because many in the public are still not quite sure where and when a movie will be made available. During the pandemic, the traditional release patterns were in flux, as many new movies debuted online, either with or without a theatrical run. Now studios are having to re-train the public to expect that a new movie is first available “only in theatres”.
Variety, in partnership with industry researcher Guts+Data, conducted a poll of 600 frequent moviegoers to ask whether they thought that the latest Hollywood releases were opening in theatres, on streaming, or a hybrid of both. Shockingly, the results showed that movie fans were confused, with 38% of those polled one week before the release of THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER believing incorrectly that Disney was also making the movie available day & date on Disney+ and 10% believing that it would only be available on Disney+. 40% of those polled thought that MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU would be available online on day one while 12% thought that it would only be streaming (on NBC Universal’s Peacock).
Despite nearly one-half of those polled being mistaken about movies and theatres, the box office recovery of exhibitors is that much more impressive. The price for exhibitors Cinemark, IMAX and Marcus stocks are all rising, with Wall Street expecting that the sector is undervalued and well-run exhibitors remain good long-term investments.
See also: Movie Theater Chains Weathered COVID-19, Now Face Economic Downturn (Hollywood Reporter)