×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Theater Owners Worried About Losing Younger, Mobile Generation

The box office may be booming, but the kids are not all right.

That was the takeaway from the kickoff to CinemaCon, the exhibition industry confab that began Monday in Las Vegas.

Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis and Yelmo Cines CEO Fernando Evole tried to accentuate the positive as they rhapsodized about the magic of a shared cinematic experience in their keynote addresses to theater owners as part of CinemaCon’s International Day.

However, they acknowledged that multiplexes are engaged in a tug-of-war for eyeballs with the likes of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube that’s resulting in an aging crop of avid moviegoers. The expiration date on this group of dependable ticket buyers was brought to life by a photo Evole showed depicting a line of cinemagoers dominated by a sea of white-haired senior citizens.

“I don’t see those guys here giving us much revenue in the years to come,” said Evole, who runs a circuit of theater primarily based in Spain.

Hollis was less existential in his remarks, but he did acknowledge the challenges that the movie industry faces by using his three mobile-device loving young children as an example of shifting tastes. The exhibition business and the major studios need to “lean in” to these connected consumers, he said, borrowing a phrase from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

He noted, in addition, that over the last five years, attendance has declined among moviegoers ages 18 through 39.

“It doesn’t take much of a leap to think that the technology advances we’re seeing outside of the theatrical space are some how connected to these trends,” said Hollis.

He took theater owners on a two-decade tour of some of these evolutions, noting that in 1995, VHS was still a thing, Blockbuster a juggernaut and the foreign box office a sliver in the revenues of Hollywood studios. Today, the foreign box office accounts for more than 70% of global ticket sales and a panoply of Internet-enabled devices are changing the way that people watch movies and TV.

The solution is to improve the theatrical experience, both Hollis and Evole argued, by offering souped-up sound, 3D, Imax, more comfortable seating and amenities. Keeping business growing also demands a steady stream of so-called event pictures that push people to leave the comforts of the couch.

Hollis argued that a “mobile device can’t replicate the incredible feeling of seeing ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Avatar’ or ‘The Hunger Games’ on a giant screen.”

Cinema owners and studios must work more collaboratively, he said, to show “there is nothing like going to the movies, there has never been anything like going to the movies. It’s on all of us to keep that a truism.”

He closed his remarks with an image of two hands clasping, a fitting illustration of the theme of CinemaCon — a four-day lovefest between two factions of the entertainment space that often lead with their elbows.

For his part, Evole indicated that theater owners should demonstrate more flexibility on the issue of windowing. That’s historically been a sticking point. Exhibitors have viewed any attempts to reduce the traditional 90-day period between a film’s theatrical premiere and its home entertainment release as a threat to their business.

He suggested embracing different release strategies for different types of films and what he termed “window segmentation.” There may also be more cross-marketing opportunities.

“We can’t change the future and we can’t fight changes,” he said.

More Film

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther,' 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Westworld' Among Costume Designers Guild Winners

    “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” are up for the Oscar this year, along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Poppins [...]

  • WGA Writers Contract Talks

    Talent Agents, WGA Achieve Progress in Second Round of Talks

    Hollywood talent agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved some progress at their second negotiating session over agency regulations, according to sources close to the talks. The two sides met Tuesday, two weeks after their first meeting resulted in both sides criticizing each other, followed by the WGA holding a trio of spirited [...]

  • Aaron Paul

    Film News Roundup: Aaron Paul Honored by Sun Valley Film Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, Aaron Paul is honored, Bruce Berman is re-upped at Village Roadshow, and Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher get a book deal. FESTIVAL HONORS The Sun Valley Film Festival has selected Idaho native and three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul as the winner of its Pioneer Award, presented by Variety for his [...]

  • Olivia Munn]EMILY'S List Pre-Oscars Brunch, Inside,

    Olivia Munn Says Brett Ratner Called Her Before His 'Howard Stern' Apology

    Olivia Munn is setting the record straight about standing up to “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner, whom she alleges sexually harassed her over a decade ago. During a panel discussion at the Emily’s List pre-Oscars brunch at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills Tuesday morning, Munn revealed that Ratner called her in 2011 after he denied [...]

  • Flesh Out review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Flesh Out'

    Ignore the awful English-language title: “Flesh Out” is an emotionally rich, sensitively made film about a young woman in Mauritania forced to gain weight in order to conform to traditional concepts of well-rounded beauty before her impending marriage. Strikingly registering the sensations of a protagonist living between the dutiful traditions of her class and the [...]

  • Marighella review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Marighella'

    Does Brazil need a film that openly advocates armed confrontation against its far-right government? That’s the first question that needs to be asked when discussing “Marighella,” actor Wagner Moura’s directorial debut focused on the final year in the life of left-wing insurrectionist Carlos Marighella during Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship. For whatever one might think of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content