Marking the end of his first year at President & CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), Michael O’Leary penned an article for Variety offering a positive outlook for exhibitors in the years ahead.
O’Leary pointed to a movement by exhibitors to “eventize” the moviegoing experience by “upgrading projectors and sound systems” and “creating new and exciting food and beverage options.” He views these investments as key to driving future growth in revenues.
O’Leary believes that the studio’s dalliance with using streaming as a primary channel for releasing movies has subsided and that traditional, theatrical releasing is once again considered to be the most profitable way to release new titles.
O’Leary points out that “all major distributors continue to plant a flag on future release dates as far out as 2026.” A release on streaming is incapable of generating the cultural impact of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” “Top Gun: Maverick” or “Avatar: The Way of Water.”
The key for exhibitors is to manage successfully the ups and downs of the box office, especially during the periods between mega releases. The recent successes of concert titles “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour”, and “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé” and imports such as “The Boy and the Heron” and “Godzilla Minus One” provide hope that options for new content can pick up the slack when major Hollywood titles are absent.
It’s telling that the head of the trade organization for exhibitors is stating opening that his members need to up their game to give audiences a good reason to go to their theatres. Facilities that have installed new seating, projection, sound, and concessions options have seen increases in attendance and revenue.