When it comes to the reason why filming in cinemas and at the same time is a terrible idea, the president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners didn't mince words.
"I am extremely pleased to announce that the simultaneous release of a movie is dead as a serious business model, and piracy is what killed it," Fithian said during his annual conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday. "When a crystal copy of a film makes its way online and spreads, it has a very damaging impact on our industry."
In an effort to increase their streaming services, some Hollywood studios, including Warner Bros. and Disney, experimented with day-and-date releases. In fact, Warners sent its entire 2021 slate simultaneously to cinemas and to, including such tentpoles as Dune. The studio abandoned the policy beginning in 2022 and committed to a 45-day window.
When it comes to analyzing title after title, chances of spikes in piracy are most significant when a movie is first available to watch in the house, not matter if it is available via premium video on demand or subscription video on demand. Fithian says: "Robust theatrical windows protect against piracy. The temptation to stay home and watch pirated films becomes even greater for prospective filmmakers."
During his speech on stage at CinemaCon, director Charles Rivkin talked about the dangers of piracy, irrespective of when it happens in a film's life. "On average, pre-release piracy can take away as much as 20% of revenue," he told theater owners.
Due to MPA member companies, Rivkin did not address the amount of piracy, which included the five major Hollywood studios and Netflix.
"And with the right intentions to increase awareness with consumers, lawmakers, and the media, we can continue to develop a culture that recognizes piracy for what it is, which is pure and simple, and is a direct threat to creators, the creative workforce, and the creative community everywhere.
"In 2017, we established the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment or ACE, as we deem it), a coalition of our six MPA studios and the world's largest entertainment companies, including Apple TV+, Amazon Studios, AMC Networks BBC, and Canal Plus. Today, I'm pleased to announce that BeIN Sports, a Qatar-based sports broadcaster, has signed.
The MPA and ACE's anti-piracy efforts, together with other organizations, have increased the number of illegal websites and streaming subscription services in North America from 1,400 in 2019 to about 200 today. Moreover, the MPA recently reached a deal that has included MPA investigators inside DHS itself.
Rivkin stated that he was "encouraged" by the progress made in this ongoing fight against piracy, and I'm grateful for the progress that we are currently seeing at the global box office. These current box office successes indicate that moviegoers still enjoy the sanctity and social beauty of shared space."
Both Rivkin and Fithian appreciated the power of the box office as it recovers from the devastating COVID-19 epidemic, which resulted in unprecedented theater closures.
"The slate of films in 2022 and beyond will be impressive and full of big box office potential," Fithian said. I am grateful that a large number of talented studio executives have come to this week to showcase their work, and believe that their participation at this historic convention confirms a renewed commitment to the key role that movie-going plays in the industry.
Matt Reeves, who plays a role in Batman, kicked off the morning state-of-the-industry session by apologizing cinema owners for keeping the "flicker of hope" when the epidemic struck. He said he believes in the theatrical experience. "It's very important to me," Reeves said of Batman's achievements, which was $700 million.
The Batman's success was a real team effort. It was impossible to get to this spot without... the theatrical experience, said Reeves. I do appreciate what you do as a lifelong fan of the films. It's a lot to see in the films.
In pre-pandemic times, the theatrical window was 74 days to 90 days. That window has now been reduced to 45 days, which theater owners are now comfortable with. (For their part, studios have long argued that most films make most of their money in the first month.)
We are extremely pleased that distributors are releasing movies with windows, and that studios and exhibitors are working together. There is a diverse set of titles to look forward to in the future. But mid-range films and movies specifically designed for children are also crucial. It's not rocket science: more movies result in more box office.
Fithian spoke about the enormous success of Sony and Marvel's Spider-Man: No Way Home, which has raised $1.9 billion worldwide, and noted that families are now returning in earnest to cinemas, as evidenced by Paramount's Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (which has raised $288 million worldwide so far).
Fithian, who has often dismissed the perceived danger of streamers in the past, was stayed away from that topic this time around. On April 19, Netflix disclosed that it lost subscribers in the first quarter, sending its stock down. The development is a psychological boost for theater owners, despite concerns that streaming will lead to superior moviegoing.
Fithian gave birth to a new series of films, directed by young and ambitious filmmakers to promote moviegoing that NATO is asking its members to share on their screens and on social media. Filmmakers include Kelly Scheisswohl and Noah Sterling, who plays the role of Ed Hellman and Katie Staab on There's Nothing Like It, and Ameer Zami on behalf of sincerely management.
"I believe nothing will ever affect the theatrical experience, not streaming... not even Martians landing, I say as a joke," says Cineplex's chief Ellis Jacob, adding that many have written the exhibition industry's obituary in an error. "We were tested by COVID. Now all that remains is opportunity."
Prior to Rivkin and Fithian taking the stage, Jacob received the top Marquee award in NATO.
Chris Gardner has contributed to this paper.