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Burst Details

Cinema owners are hard hit by coronavirus closures

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2 months ago

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Tens of thousands of theaters around the globe are closed for the foreseeable future. The major studios have many upcoming theatrical releases and distributors are either accelerating the premiers of their films on video on demand and streaming platforms or bypassing theatrical releases entirely. It's an existential crisis for movie theater owners who already were facing flat or declining admissions North America before the Global Pandemic Patrick Corcoran is the vice president and chief communications officer for the National Association of Theatre Owners. Patrick welcome to the show. Thank you John How are you? I'm well? Let's first talk about the scope of the problem. John Fithian the head of NATO said quote overnight. We went from an industry that makes fifteen billion a year to one that is not going to make a penny for three or four months unquote. So what does that mean for your member companies? Well what that means is they need help Just like any public facing business right now. That's closed off. You know sense of public responsibility or because of government action. They're not bringing in any revenue which means they can't pay their employees. They can't pay their bills. They can't pay their rent or their mortgage so we need help from the government Direct help to our employees so that they can be sustained through however long. This crisis lasts Also won't guarantees for our members and small business administration loans for our members so that companies large and small all across this country can get through this crisis so they can open their doors when the crisis passed ad be there to serve their communities and to have jobs available their for their employees when they come back how many people theater staff you know people work the ticket office. Maybe do the clean have been laid off overall. We'd play about one hundred fifty thousand people in the US and the vast majority of them are laid off Executives and management at headquarters are working with no pay a lot of cases strong to talk to bags talking to their landlords. And and all the people say. Oh you know money. To and as far as you know without revenue coming in we simply cannot pay our workers on top of that. There's another big issue. And that is that major studios including Universal Disney and Warner Brothers so far are postponing releases or collapsing. The normal time period between a theatrical release in films appearing on video on demand or streaming and to me that feels like a potentially fundamental shift in. How movies are released and I will. Argue could be an even greater threat to theaters than the corona virus in and of itself. What is NATO's position on that our position on that as we are in close communication with the studios as our our members and in a crisis situation people do things that they would not normally do and we'll continue to do when the crisis is over. We understand since theaters are not open and movies that were in theaters a week and a half ago. We're doing fine but are suddenly now. Taking a no revenue the studios need that revenue. So if they have to move those titles into the home quicker we understand completely. There's no theatrical window at stake because there's no theatrical right now in terms of titles that are delayed. We respect those decisions to delay them till later in the year or into next year with the exception of two movies. One which trolls Universal which decided to go straight to video We think that was a mistake. They probably should rescheduled as they did with the fast and furious nine. Sometimes they're going to have to make money and hand them off to streaming. That's going to happen. Occasionally but the vast majority of titles vast majority of studios are merely delayed. We're talking with Patrick Corcoran from the National Association of theatre owners so NATO said of universal's decision to bypass a theatrical release for trolls world tour quote. Exhibitors will not forget this. What does that mean out a threat? It's it's a simple statement of fact I mean we were in and are in a crisis situation. The way that universal announced it the way they described. It were deeply unhelpful. To theatrical it added to the perception that there was this existential threat beyond the corona virus that is simply not the case and theater owners will of course make their own determinations in the future and as always about what they do in terms of studio policies when this crisis is over the business model still obtains short windows. Do not make the studios any more money. We have some data that were were getting looked at the suggests that the studios actually make less money in the home when they have shorter windows. And you can look over the last fifteen years in show the just incredible shrinkage of the transactional home video market. It's gone from twenty four point. Nine billion dollars in two thousand four to nine point three billion last year a sixty two percent decline people are not they're behavior in their home is not going toward transactional home video when it's going towards streaming and streaming of the second or third window so people can obviously wait people say they're not going to wash Pretty much saying no to it. Larger publicly held theater chains might have access to credit or cash that smaller independent chains or mom and pop operators of theaters. Don't is there a greater threat to us? Thanks to the smaller chains or the independent theaters than there are to the bigger chains right now. I think the threat is across the board and one of the elements of the relief package. That's being negotiated in Congress right now with the administration is for Small Business Administration loans. That will be aimed directly at the kind of businesses that you're talking about the smaller theatre companies smaller mom and pop kind of Dang across the country. And there's also the element of the loan guarantees that will be aimed at larger companies generally and what's necessary for theater owners. It's what's necessary for restaurant owners bars and restaurants all these things that right now have either extremely reduced revenue or no revenue at all. They've got to get through this period of time because I think what what the real risk here is along with the need to fight this pandemic and get that under control is when it's done. We can't have destroyed the economy and you know you talk about vital businesses but these are vital businesses in every community across the country.