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The 'resurgence of cinema' faces headwinds as movie supply slows into fall

·Senior Reporter
·3 min read

As the summer box office slows, all eyes are on the fall.

The only issue? There's not enough movies.

"We got a little bit of a slow supply in movies in August and September," John Fithian, National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) CEO and president, told Yahoo Finance Live in an interview this week.

The theater owners' chief blamed pandemic backlogs and post-production supply chain issues, although he also admitted that the industry usually encounters cyclical dips this time of year.

"In the first seven months of the year, we did 71% of the business we did in the same period in 2019 on 70% of the movies," the executive said.

"What the moviegoers are showing is that when the movies are there, they are storming back to cinemas."

But the movies aren't there, at least not yet, and the domestic box office has suffered as a result. So far this year, the annual box office take is down 31% compared to the same point in 2019, according to Box Office Mojo.

To help soften the blow, theaters across the country will be participating in a newly created discount day, dubbed "National Cinema Day," on September 3.

Throughout the day, patrons will have to chance to purchase movie tickets for just $3 at participating locations. The Cinema Foundation, a non-profit arm of the National Association of Theatre Owners, announced that more than 3,000 theaters, including major chains like AMC and Regal Cinemas, will be participating.

"National Cinema Day is not about making money. It's about thanking our customers for coming to cinemas in strong numbers during the summer," Fithian said, describing the holiday as a celebration of the box office's post-pandemic rebirth.

Most major theatrical chains like AMC (AMC), Cinemark (CNK), and Regal Cinemas remain unprofitable — despite soaring revenues in the second-quarter. Britain's Cineworld Group (CINE.L), the parent company of Regal, is reportedly preparing to file for bankruptcy, specifically citing a lack of big-budget movies that will likely impact attendance through the fall.

Despite the secular headwinds, Fithian noted a variety of film genres will have major releases later in the fall, with a particular focus on the fourth quarter as "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" and "Avatar: The Way of Water."

"The regrowth and the resurgence of cinema coming out of the pandemic is alive and well...we think we're coming back very strong in the fall and in the winter," Fithian said.

Theaters bet big on box office return as films like 'Top Gun: Maverick' crush summer box office expectations (Courtesy: Paramount)
Theaters bet big on box office return as films like 'Top Gun: Maverick' crush summer box office expectations (Courtesy: Paramount)

'We just want consumer choice'

The return of MoviePass, although highly debated in terms of its timing, seems to be drumming up support among those fastened in the movie industry.

"Generally, any effort to try to drive movie attendance is a good thing," Fithian said.

"We just want consumer choice," Fithian added. "The great thing about the cinema experience is that there are lots of choices and experiences."

In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance Live, MoviePass co-founder and CEO Stacy Spikes said the timing couldn't be better to re-launch the service, which will roll out in select markets beginning Labor Day Weekend.

A waitlist for the app's beta version, which opened late last week, saw "overwhelming demand," which caused the site's servers to crash, the company said in a tweet. Spikes said 30,000 people signed up in the first five minutes prior to the server crashing for two-and-a-half hours.

"We're really happy with people's excitement about MoviePass coming back. That shows the retention that the brand has and consumer excitement," Spikes said.

Alexandra is a Senior Entertainment and Food Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193 and email her at alexandra.canal@yahoofinance.com

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