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Hollywood Wants You to Go Back to the Theater

 All the studios agree, the best path forward is if we embrace the big screen. 

Recently, every major movie studio sat down and had an almost four-hour event where they talked about getting people back into movie theaters. "The Big Screen Is Back" event was run by 13 distributors where they pitched upcoming movies to 34 masked and distanced members of the press in order to generate buzz to get people back to the theater. 

The whole thing opened with Arnold Schwarzenegger yelling, "We're back."

The event featured in-person filmmakers and celebrities as well as pre-recorded messages from cast and crew.  It took place at the AMC in Century City, which is located one street over from the famed Avenue of the Stars, where all the agencies are located. 

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the theaters,” Schwarzenegger said. He went on to talk about the 5,800 theaters, 40,000 screens, and 153,000 cinema employees that “make it possible to have this great big joy ride."


Schwarzenegger then expanded on what we all have been feeling, saying, "In this pandemic year, all the people who watched movies on their iPod and phone were missing all the VFX and special effects, all that great stuff we usually see on the big screen.”

Rolando Rodriguez, chairman of NATO, and CEO of Marcus Theatres, said, “The return of moviegoing is critical for our studio partners, not just for the theatrical bottom line, but it’s important to our economy. The pandemic has turned business models upside down.”

Lisa Bunnell, distribution president for Focus Features, delivered a rousing and emotional speech.

“It’s important to have that human connection with people,” Bunnell said. “Without that, why do we make the movies? We were able to release 12 movies during the pandemic, and it was not just a bullshit throwaway. We went out there and did the marketing and theatrical campaigns as best we could during a difficult period of time.” 

Many of these sentiments were echoed by people like J.J. Abrams, Lin Manuel Miranda, and various studio heads from around town. While all the talk was uplifting, there was certainly palpable worry. Hollywood is about to embark on another summer where the numbers seem bleak. What used to be the most profitable time is now a source of a great deal of stress.

Will titles like In the Heights attract audiences? Will F9 continue the legacy of the franchise? What about shelved movies from last year like A Quiet Place II? 

There's so much uncertainty and fear, it only seemed fitting that Jason Blum delivered these closing remarks.

“If you told me right now to turn down the lights and show me any movies that were previewed today, I would stay and take that two-hour journey, knowing it might shift my perspective, might move me to laughter or make me cry or scare the crap out of me, or show me something profound about the human condition," Blum said. "That’s the heart of our business.”


 

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