Stocks for North America’s movie theatre companies are reflecting this year’s dismal box-office summer, which is the worst it’s been in 10 years.
Regal Entertainment, which operates in the U.S., saw shares plunge 28 per cent, while biggie AMC Entertainment’s shares have dropped a whopping 45 per cent since the end of May.
Canada’s Cineplex Entertainment has had a similar decline, with its stock plummeting 35 per cent since the middle of May. Even giant movie screen providers IMAX have seen their shares tumble 31 per cent.
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For the first time in a decade, domestic (U.S.) ticket sales didn’t reach $4 billion, a feat usually achieved with the release of big action films and summer blockbusters. Additionally, August earnings are down 35 per cent, year over year, and this Labour Day weekend is expected to flop too, with no major releases planned.
Strangely, year-over-year totals will decline even though 2017’s anticipated top three movies (Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars: The Last Jedi — yet to be released — and Wonder Woman) have outperformed 2016’s top three movies (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Captain America: Civil War and Finding Dory).
While theatres across the country have been revamping themselves, with some offering alcohol or food delivery directly to your seat, reclining theatre chairs, the works — it hasn’t been enough to ensure a consistent flow of filmgoers to theatres.
“The movie theatre industry has been under immense pressure as streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu have continued to change consumers’ habits, and I think this pressure will only intensify in the years ahead,” said Joseph Solitro at The Motley Fool, a multimedia financial services company. “Also, there has been talk that movie studios have been exploring the option of offering in-home movies to consumers as early as a couple of weeks after theatrical releases, which I think would cripple movie theatre operators.”
Some movie studios are planning to launch PVOD (personal video on demand) before the end of 2017, and some research analysts say that it could cost the movie exhibition industry around $380 million a year.
It’s too early to tell how big an impact internet pirating of films has had on the industry, but unquestionably it’s there. Another factor affecting this summer’s box office is the slate of movies itself; with more flops than not, people have been less likely to shell out $20+ to see a movie that disappoints in the end. Even returning franchises like Transformers and Alien: Covenant couldn’t bring in the audiences.
The Emoji Movie, Tom Cruise vehicle The Mummy, King Arthur, Baywatch and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, among others, all failed to deliver, and each made far less money than expected.
Luckily for Hollywood, international dollars are helping boost the box office. Worldwide cinema-going helped save many of the movies that would have otherwise been total flops, like Pirates of the Caribbean 5.
Aug. 31 is the final day to take advantage of Cineplex’s incentive offer of half-price movies (any movie) at any theatre in Canada.