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Thread: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wuhan Pneumonia

  1. #256
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    I'm surprised 'China flu' conspiracy theorists aren't having a field day with this...

    Sep 19, 2020,05:50am EDT
    China More Dominant Than Ever In Covid-Related ‘PPE’ — And U.S. Flags

    Ken Roberts Contributor


    One of the companies importing N-95 masks from China was 3M, which was also manufacturing in the ... [+] GETTY IMAGES

    China is now accounting for more than 85% of all U.S. imports in the category dominated by N-95 respirators, disposable and non-disposable face masks, surgical drapes and surgical towels, and, oddly enough, including U.S. flags.

    As the United States closes in on 200,000 American deaths attributed to the coronavirus pandemic that originated in China, the textile category for these personal protection equipment items is growing more rapidly than any of China’s other top 15 imports into the United States this year, according to the latest Census Bureau data, which runs through July.

    Those top 15 imports accounted for almost 46% of U.S. imports from China.

    While overall U.S. imports from China are down 14.71%, which is more than overall U.S. imports, which are off 12.04%, the increase in the category dominated by the masks was 395.47%.

    The $10.8 billion total is three times the total the United States imported from the entire world in the same first seven months of 2019.

    That allowed the percentage of those imports arriving from China to increase from a still-lofty 70.17% in the first seven months of 2019, before the outbreak of the coronavirus, to the current market share, 85.43%.

    Even as the United States has aggressively ramped up its own manufacturing of such items, it has come to rely more heavily on China for these life-saving pieces of medical equipment than any time in at least a decade and almost certainly ever.

    While dominated by masks and other PPE, it is a broad category that includes furniture movers’ pads, pillowcases and wall banners — as long as they are made of textiles — and U.S. flags.

    Through there are a number of U.S. manufacturers of U.S. flags, imports from China in the first seven months of the year accounted for 98.91% of the total. The $4.28 million in U.S. flags, a trifling compared to $1.4 billion in N95 respirators, was the lowest total since 2015. The percentage, however, has been consistent for years.

    Though the category is broad, it does not, of course, necessarily capture all personal protection equipment.

    Looking more broadly at the leading U.S. imports from China through the first seven months of the year, 12 of the 15 fell in value.

    In addition to the textile category, a category of miscellaneous plastic articles — which also includes products that could be related to the pandemic, such as pneumatic mattresses, plastic facemasks and other laboratory ware — also increased 13.22% but accounted for a record 53.72% of all U.S. imports.

    Computer parts also increased, up 9.97% but China accounted for the lowest percentage of U.S. imports in more than a decade, at 28.7%. Two years earlier, that percentage was at 69.7%.

    One category, furniture fell more than 37% while three categories, toys, seats and lamps and lighting fixtures, all fell more than 20%. For all four, their percentage of U.S. market share was lower than at any time in more than a decade.



    Ken Roberts

    I didn’t leave the womb thinking I would find my life’s work writing and speaking about trade data, trying to make it interesting and relevant. But this is where I find myself. Today, the company I founded in 1998, WorldCity, has published annual TradeNumbers publications around the country, from Seattle to Miami, Los Angeles to New York and numerous points in between. Monthly, we upload more than 10 million pages and page views of Census data at ustradenumbers.com, on hundreds of airports, seaports, countries, and export and import commodities. I serve on the Federal Reserve’s Trade and Transportation Advisory Council. In the last year or so, I have spoken about trade in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Laredo, Miami and Chicago. I also post a weekly Trade Matters video. I don’t expect you to fawn over it like I do, but I hope I bring a little clarity, a different perspective or some insights that are helpful.
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  2. #257
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    Welcome to Golden Week

    The original article has trailers.

    From Jackie Chan’s Vanguard to Kung Fu Mulan, eight movies showing in China during golden week
    This year’s golden week box office will show how well China’s movie industry has recovered from the pandemic
    Legend of Deification is an early winner, chalking up US$11.7 million in advance ticket sales for its opening day on October 1
    Elaine Yau in Beijing
    Published: 5:45pm, 30 Sep, 2020

    Jiang Ziya in a still from animated film Legend of Deification, one of eight movies in the cinematic line-up for golden week.
    Jiang Ziya in a still from animated film Legend of Deification, one of eight movies in the cinematic line-up for golden week.
    Legend of Deification, the animated movie co-produced by the same company that made last year’s box office champion Nezha , is set to become the top grossing film on China’s national day holiday on Thursday. According to China’s largest ticketing app, Maoyan, Legend of Deification has so far chalked up 80 million yuan (US$11.7 million) in advance ticket sales for its opening day, which is also the start of the country’s “golden week” national holiday.
    Ranked second in Thursday’s advance ticket sales is patriotic movie My People My Homeland, which took in over 65 million yuan. Jackie Chan vehicle Vanguard, which opened a day earlier than Legend of Deification and My People My Homeland, reaped over 47 million yuan for advance ticket sales for Wednesday and Thursday.
    The Chinese film industry sees advance ticket sales for a film’s opening day on Maoyan as a credible gauge of audience response to a production and how it will fare at the box office in China.
    The week-long October national holiday in China usually brings rich pickings for studios, which fall over themselves to bring their best films to the big screen. Last year, golden week brought in 5 billion yuan in box office takings, more than double the 2.2 billion yuan of the previous year.


    Jackie Chan and Miya Muqi in a still from Vanguard.
    With the coronavirus outbreak largely under control in China, mainland cinemas have been reopened for two months. On September 25, the cap on seating capacity at cinemas was raised to 75 per cent.
    Industry analysts predict golden week this year will bring in 4.5 billion to 5 billion yuan in ticket sales, similar to last year’s figure, proof of the recovery of China’s cinema sector from the pandemic. Below are the eight movies which will be shown on the mainland during the golden week holiday.

    Legend of Deification
    The runaway box office success of Nezha has boosted the public’s expectations for Legend of Deification, co-produced by One and All Animation Studio, and Enlight Media which also produced Nezha last year.
    Like Nezha, which revolves around adventures of the eponymous mythological figure in Chinese folklore, Legend of Deification focuses on the exploits of Jiang Ziya, the mythological Chinese noble who helped kings Wen and Wu of the Zhou dynasty to overthrow the Shang dynasty.
    After overthrowing Shang, Jiang is at the peak of his career. About to be crowned the chief of all gods, he commits a mistake and is demoted to human status. Without his magical power, and ostracised in the human world, he embarks on a journey of salvation and self-discovery to reclaim his former glory.

    My People My Homeland
    Produced by Zhang Yimou and with Ning Hao as chief director, the film adopts the same format as My People, My Country , last year’s golden week box office champion. My People My Homeland is an anthology film comprising five chapters, each with a different director.
    Featuring A-list stars including Huang Bo and Shen Teng, the stories portray the love of mainlanders for, well, their homeland.

    Vanguard
    Hong Kong action film director Stanley Tong Kwai-lai and Jackie Chan team up in their sixth collaboration. Chan plays the chief of an international security team tasked with rescuing a hostage who has been kidnapped by mercenaries.
    Chan revealed to the media before that he nearly drowned in an accident when filming Vanguard. Since Chan and Tong started to work together in the early 1990s, they have made several hugely successful films, including Police Story 3: Super Cop and Rumble in the Bronx.

    Leap
    Released on September 25, Leap has so far earned 200 million yuan in ticket sales and 10 million yuan in advance ticket sales for Thursday. The 200 million yuan in sales puts it in ninth place on the list of 2020’s top 10 mainland films.
    Directed by Hong Kong director Peter Chan Ho-sun, Leap tells the story of the Chinese women’s national volleyball team over the past 40 years. Gong Li plays Lang Ping, the current head coach of the team. It traces how the team became world champions and defended the title in international competitions.

    Coffee or Tea?
    Produced by Peter Chan and directed by Xu Hongyu, the comedy stars heartthrobs Liu Haoran, Peng Yuchang and Yin Fang. This is an uplifting yarn about three young men who give up city comforts for the rustic life in a 1,000-year-old village in Yunnan. Beating all the odds, they set up an e-commerce business there and strike up friendships with the locals. The film will be released on October 4.

    Kung Fu Mulan
    To be released on October 3, this mainland animated version of beloved Chinese traditional hero Hua Mulan comes hot on the heels of the disastrous showing of Disney’s live-action remake. This is the first mainland animation about the historical figure.
    The Mulan in this animation differs from the Disney’s Mulan, which stuck to the traditional image of the filial and patriotic warrior.

    Let Life be Beautiful
    To be released on October 5, this movie, based on true events, portrays a young man who battles leukaemia with optimism and bravery. Faced with much uncertainty, he perseveres in pursuing his goal and dreams.
    Playing the stricken young man is 14-year-old Rong Zishan, who became a household name overnight in China recently for his starring role in hit TV series The Bad Kids. Rong’s performance as a pathos-filled student grappling with a broken family and a murderer on his back earned rave reviews from critics. In spite of being a child star, he has already worked with several famous directors, including Jia Zhangke in 2015’s Mountains May Depart .

    Kikujiro
    Released in Japan in 1999, and written by and starring Japanese film icon Takeshi Kitano, Kikujiro has taken over six million yuan in ticket sales since its September 25 release on the mainland.
    Rated 8.8 out of 10 on Douban, China’s equivalent to IMDb, the movie revolves around the adventures of a primary student who, having been raised by his grandma, decides to go to Toyohashi in Aichi Prefecture to look for his mother on his own.


    Takeshi Kitano (left) and Yusuke Sekiguchi in a still from Kikujiro (1999). Photo: Office Kitano
    After arriving in Toyohashi, the helpless child runs into a kindhearted woman who asks her layabout husband (Kitano) to help him out. The man and the kid then embark on a journey of self-discovery together.
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  3. #258
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    Jiang Ziya FTW

    Oct 1, 2020 7:52pm PT
    China Hits Highest Single-Day Ticket Sales of the Year, Notching Its Second-Biggest National Day Earnings Ever


    By Rebecca Davis


    Courtesy of Well Go USA
    The Chinese box office hit its highest single-day tally of the year so far on Thursday, reaching $107 million (RMB728 million), more than 10 times what North American cinemas made in the whole of last weekend. That sum marks China’s second largest Oct. 1 National Day box office in history, a feat achieved even as cinemas continue to operate at just 75% capacity.

    Thursday was this year a dual holiday coincidentally marked by both the Mid-Autumn Festival and the first day of the week-long National Day vacation, typically one of the busiest times for cinemas.

    Meanwhile, to compare, the total gross for North American over the latest three-day weekend period was just $9.26 million. Relative levels of movie-going are of course tied to progress in battling the pandemic: China logged just 11 new coronavirus cases nationwide on Wednesday, whereas the U.S. logged 43,114.

    Leading China’s box office Thursday was Enlight’s hotly anticipated animation “Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification,” a sequel of sorts from the same cinematic universe as last summer’s breakout animation hit “Nezha,” which went on to become China’s second-highest grossing film ever.

    It opened strong at number one with $52.7 million, according to data from industry tracker Maoyan — setting a record for the highest single-day ticket sales for an animated title in China of all time. It also opened Thursday in select U.S. theaters, distributed by Well Go USA.

    In second was the patriotic film purpose-made for the National Day holiday, “My People, My Homeland,” which grossed $39.3 million on its opening day. Produced by Beijing Culture, the omnibus film is executive produced by Zhang Yimou and features shorts from top directors Ning Hao, Xu Zheng, Chen Sicheng, Yan Fei, Peng Damo, Deng Chao and Yu Baimei.

    The Jackie Chan-starring actioner “Vanguard,” directed by Stanley Tong, came in third on its second day in theaters, with earnings of $8.25 million bringing its two-day cume up to $16.8 million. The film is also set to open Friday in the Ukraine and later this month in Russia via distributor Trinity CineAsia, which also holds rights in the U.K. and Ireland.

    Peter Chan’s “Leap,” which opened last week, came in fourth with $6.34 million, while “The Eight Hundred” held its own in sixth, earning $265,000 on its 42nd day in theaters.

    A propaganda documentary of the 2019 National Day military parade, a blowout to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic, debuted Thursday in seventh, earning $134,400. It was produced by China’s only military-affiliated film studio.
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  4. #259
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    Ironic that this title be a final nail in this coffin

    October 3, 2020 5:13pm PT
    Cineworld Could Close All Regal Cinemas, U.K. Venues in Response to ‘No Time to Die’ Delay

    By Manori Ravindran


    Cineworld
    UPDATED: Cineworld could shutter 543 of its Regal Cinema venues in the U.S. and all cinemas across the U.K. and Ireland this coming week, just a day after James Bond film “No Time to Die” was pushed to April 2021.

    On Sunday afternoon U.K. time, Cineworld confirmed that it is “considering the temporary closure” of its U.K. and U.S. cinemas, but that a final decision hasn’t yet been reached.

    Variety understands that staff were informed of Cineworld’s plans on Sunday — ahead of the company’s statement — with HR explaining that the closure of all cinemas is “one option that is strongly being considered,” though a decision hasn’t yet been made.

    Variety understands from sources that the chain may close all sites in both countries as early as this week. Regal is the second largest domestic chain in the U.S., while Cineworld is the U.K.’s biggest cinema operator.

    In the U.K., Cineworld is understood to be writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden this weekend to explain that the exhibition sector is “unviable” due to studios delaying tentpoles as a result of anxious audiences steering clear of cinemas amid the global pandemic. The Cineworld closures will put up to 5,500 jobs at risk in the U.K.

    Sources indicate a reopening date hasn’t yet been set, but cinemas could stay closed until 2021.

    The swift move by the Mooky Greidinger-run chain, whose U.K. closures were first reported by The Sunday Times, follows Friday’s bombshell Bond announcement. Though there had been speculation that “No Time to Die” could move from its Nov. 12 and Nov. 20 slots in the U.K. and North America, respectively, many in the industry, including several global exhibition bosses, believed it would ultimately hold firm. Its new date of April 2, 2021, has come as a distressing shock to the exhibition sector, which is starved of vital blockbusters to bring audiences back to movie theaters.

    Cineworld staff weren’t informed of the company’s decision in advance of Saturday’s news. Cineworld Action Group, a collective of employees supported by entertainment union Bectu, tweeted on Saturday that “there has been no consultation with staff whatsoever.” News of the closures first emerged via a preview of The Sunday Times’ front page, posted late on Saturday night.

    Cineworld’s shock move comes weeks after the company said in its half-year results that there was no certainty around its COVID-19 outlook. In a forward-looking statement, the firm said, “If governments were to strengthen restrictions on social gathering, which may therefore oblige us to close our estate again or further push back movie releases, it would have a negative impact on our financial performance and likely require the need to raise additional liquidity.”

    In the U.K., Cineworld opened its doors after a four-month shutdown only on July 31. The company had planned to open July 10, but pushed its dates back after “Tenet” was delayed the first time around. In the U.S., Regal Cinemas began opening venues in late August, ahead of the release of the Christopher Nolan thriller.

    “No Time to Die,” starring Daniel Craig in his final stint as the agent formerly known as 007, will hit theaters on April 2, 2021 — a year later than initially planned.

    “MGM, Universal and Bond producers, Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, today announced the release of ‘No Time To Die,’ the 25th film in the James Bond series, will be delayed until 2 April in order to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience,” the filmmakers said in a statement on Friday. “We understand the delay will be disappointing to our fans but we now look forward to sharing ‘No Time To Die’ next year.”

    Numerous movies were shuffled around in the wake of “Tenet’s” lackluster U.S. box office performance in September. Because the Bond franchise relies heavily on international ticket sales, the decision to move “No Time to Die” into next year is not entirely surprising: Coronavirus cases in Europe have started to rise again and New York and Los Angeles, the two biggest U.S. markets, remain closed.

    The delay is major blow to theaters, and there’s a chance more could be forced to close given the lack of new content on the horizon. Pixar’s “Soul” on Nov. 20 is now the next big movie slated for theatrical release. However, there are rumblings that Disney will move the animated adventure and possibly even put it on Disney Plus, the studio’s subscription streaming service. Two Warner Bros. titles, “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Dune,” are still set for December, though there’s a chance those could be postponed again as well.
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  5. #260
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    Closing Thursday

    Follow up on the post above

    THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS
    Regal Movie Chain Will Close All 536 U.S. Theaters On Thursday

    October 5, 20201:38 PM ET
    BILL CHAPPELL

    Some 40,000 Regal theater employees are now facing a furlough across the U.S. after the movie chain announced it's closing all locations.
    Alex Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    More than 7,000 movie screens will be dark in the U.S. this weekend as the Regal theater chain said it will shut down all 536 locations on Thursday. The closure reflects "an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape" due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is temporary, the chain said.

    Regal is shutting down theaters again less than two months after it started to reopen U.S. locations in late August. The decision was announced after the James Bond franchise's No Time to Die was shelved until 2021, further pushing back a release that had already been delayed.

    Regal is the second-largest film exhibitor in the U.S., after AMC Theatres. It is a subsidiary of Cineworld Group, which is based in the U.K. – where the corporation is also closing more than 100 theaters.

    Roughly 40,000 Regal employees across the U.S. now face a work furlough, the company told NPR. More than 5,000 employees in the U.K. will also be affected, the BBC reported.

    "This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support a safe and sustainable reopening in the U.S.," said Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld, noting the chain's safety precautions for staff and moviegoers.

    In a statement, Greidinger emphasized that "there has been no evidence to date linking any COVID cases with cinemas." He also aired frustration that Regal can't yet operate in New York state, a key U.S. market, although some indoor venues such as bowling alleys and casinos have been allowed to resume business.

    Movie studios have delayed dozens of big releases over the past six months as cinemas sat empty or showed films only to limited audiences.

    The postponed titles include likely blockbusters such the superhero movies Wonder Woman 1984 and Black Widow along with A Quiet Place Part II and Candyman. In addition, Disney shifted several high-profile releases to online-only, including Mulan.

    "The prolonged closures have had a detrimental impact on the release slate for the rest of the year, and, in turn, our ability to supply our customers with the lineup of blockbusters they've come to expect from us," Greidinger said. "As such, it is simply impossible to continue operations in our primary markets."

    While the company calls the closures temporary, it did not name a date for a possible resumption of business, saying it will "continue to monitor the situation closely."

    The coronavirus has hammered Cineworld's stock price, which commanded around $275 one year ago. On Friday, the share price was hovering just below 40 British pounds (about $52) – but with the new closures, it plummeted below 17 pounds (about $22) on Monday before recovering some of those losses.
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  6. #261
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    Covid kills movie theaters

    ENTERTAINMENT MOVIES
    DUNE, NO TIME TO DIE AND BLACK WIDOW ARE ALL DELAYED UNTIL 2021. HERE’S WHAT THAT MEANS FOR THE FUTURE OF MOVIES
    Dune, No Time to Die and Black Widow Are All Delayed Until 2021. Here’s What That Means for the Future of Movies

    Timothée Chalamet in Warner Bros.' now delayed sci-fi epic 'Dune' Warner Bros.
    BY ELIANA DOCKTERMAN
    OCTOBER 6, 2020 12:35 PM EDT
    Movie theaters are in trouble.

    It’s been a lackluster year at cinemas, to say the least. Movie theaters have sat empty during spikes in the COVID-19 pandemic. Movie houses in the two biggest markets in the U.S., New York City and Los Angeles, remain closed as those cities fight to keep infection numbers under control. Over the summer, Hollywood looked to Christopher Nolan’s highly-anticipated Tenet as a savior of the moviegoing experience, but when the film finally premiered after numerous delays, it trickled out to little fanfare. (It has managed to bring in $300 million, mostly from overseas, though that box office total falls far short of the rest of Nolan’s films.) Still, theater owners have been pinning their hopes on a resurgence in moviegoing this fall.

    But in the last two weeks, as case numbers have risen across the U.S. and it has become increasingly apparent that people simply do not feel safe going to the movies, studios have begun to push the last of their 2020 films to 2021, dashing those hopes. On Monday, Cineworld—which owns Regal Cinemas, the second largest theater chain in the U.S.—announced that all of its 663 cinemas in the U.S. and Britain would close temporarily, affecting around 40,000 employees. AMC, the largest theater chain in the States, will stay open, though the company’s stock fell 10% following its rival’s statement on Monday.

    Mooky Greidinger, the CEO of Cineworld, said on Sky News, “It’s the wrong decision from the studios to move the movies to next year,” and exhibitioners have squarely laid the blame on the producers of the latest Bond film, No Time to Die. Back in March, the film’s producers were among the first to anticipate that the spread of the coronavirus would wreak havoc on theaters and delayed the release of the Daniel Craig movie from April until November. On Friday, No Time to Die abruptly shifted dates again to April 2, 2021. “This isn’t the right time,” Craig said in an interview with Jimmy Fallon on Monday. He even cast doubt on the ability of movie theaters to reopen in the spring. “Fingers crossed April 2 is going to be our date.” Cineworld employees say that No Time to Die’s date shift is what compelled the theater chain to close.

    But studios can hardly be blamed for a logical business move—not to mention a wise public health decision. The few movies that have released in theaters across the world this summer, including Tenet, Mulan and X-Men: New Mutants, have not performed well. Health experts have warned for the last several months that sitting inside with strangers for prolonged periods of time—even at a distance—is unsafe, especially if ventilation is poor and those strangers are taking off their masks to eat popcorn and sip soda. “It’s just about the last thing I’d do right now,” one epidemiologist told The A.V. Club. For many would-be moviegoers, the risk is too high.

    And so studios, unwilling to take huge financial hits on films that might succeed in theaters in the future, are bumping their slates. Bond moved. Disney delayed Black Widow from May 2020 until November 2020, and now has pushed the film’s premiere again until May 7, 2021. Dune, originally set for December 2020, will move to Oct. 1, 2021. There are still a few holiday movie holdouts, including Disney and Pixar’s Soul and Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984, but it’s likely those movies will move as well.

    Regal, which like AMC has billions of dollars of debt, is left with little recourse. Smaller theaters face even grimmer prospects. Meanwhile, streamers like Netflix are offering thousands of hours of content to consumers at home, competition which terrifies an industry dependent on fans packing theaters. Here’s what all these delays mean for the future of your favorite franchises and the fate of the moviegoing experience.

    Could any of the delayed movies still end up on streaming or VOD this year?

    Studios, especially those with their own affiliated streaming services, could send some fare straight to streaming this year. WarnerMedia, for instance, owns both Warner Bros. and HBO Max. So it makes perfect sense that Warner Bros. has decided to release its Anne Hathaway movie The Witches, based on the Roald Dahl children’s book of the same name, straight to HBO Max rather than debut it in theaters. That movie, directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Cast Away), is one of the larger offerings, along with Mulan, to pivot to streaming this year.

    Similarly, Disney could send a movie like Pixar’s Soul, which is currently still slated for Nov. 20, 2020, to Disney+. Disney would likely charge viewers an extra fee on top of the Disney+ subscription for a period of time, as they did when Mulan debuted on the service.

    Other studios that don’t have an obvious outlet for their films would have to cut a deal with a streaming service. MGM, which produces the Bond films, has no streaming service, and while they cut a deal with Universal for the international streaming rights for Bond, Universal’s only streaming outlet is the newly-launched Peacock, which hasn’t built up an adequate enough subscriber base to attract audiences to a big release like the latest 007 movie.

    And regardless, don’t expect movies like No Time to Die or Wonder Woman 1984 to ever go straight to VOD. Studio executives believe those films are dependent on the immersive, cinematic experience and lose much of their power when watched for the first time at home, possibly even on a phone. What’s more, action movies cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce, and it’s not clear whether studios can turn a large profit or even recoup their costs when they send these films straight to streaming.

    There’s mixed evidence that big-budget movies can succeed financially on streaming. If Netflix’s self-reported numbers are to be believed, some of its splashy superhero movies, like The Old Guard starring Charlize Theron, are massive hits: Netflix reported that movie was watched by 72 million households in the first month of its release. Netflix depends on subscriptions, not streaming purchases, so it’s hard to say directly how much money Netflix made from The Old Guard. Disney offers a less optimistic data point: Mulan made $33.5 million in its opening weekend from Disney+ subscribers. That’s a lot of money for a streaming movie. But Mulan, which was also saddled with controversy, likely cost over $200 million to make, and scored a lackluster opening weekend overseas: It was one of Disney’s worst-performing remakes at the Chinese box office.

    What does it all mean for 2021 at the movies?

    Right now, 2021 is looking very crowded. Studios have shifted many of their most anticipated films from 2020 to 2021, including Black Widow, Dune, The Eternals, Fast & Furious 9, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, In the Heights, Morbius, No Time to Die, A Quiet Place Part II, Top Gun: Maverick, West Side Story and many more. There are only so many weekends per year, and it’s not like theaters will magically reopen their doors on Jan. 1. So in order to make room for all the 2020 movies, studios will be forced to either compete with one another for dwindling box office returns on the same weekend or bump some of their 2021 movies to 2022.

    Those dominos have already begun to fall. Dune moved to the 2021 weekend that was already occupied by the Robert Pattinson starrer The Batman, and the latest caped crusader reboot shifted to March 4, 2022. The long-awaited Avatar sequel moved from December 2021 to December 2022 in order to make room for one of Disney’s other movies, the third Tom Holland Spider-Man flick. Halloween Ends has shifted from October 2021 to October 2022. Matrix 4 is a unique case, as its release was actually moved up from April 2022 to December 22, 2021. DC movie The Flash was pushed from June 3, 2022 to November 4, 2022, and Shazam 2 has moved from that November 2022 slot to June 2, 2023. The untitled Indiana Jones movie we were supposed to get next summer won’t debut until July 2022. And Black Adam and Minecraft have been taken off the schedule entirely.

    Things may yet shift again if there is no widespread distribution of a vaccine by spring 2021. But studios are incentivized to hold out for the theatrical release of their movies. A few films have cut their losses and headed straight to VOD, like Trolls World Tour. That children’s movie made nearly $100 million in the first week of rentals, more than the previous Trolls film had made in that time in theaters. But franchises like Marvel and Fast & Furious expect to make billions, not millions, in theaters: Furious 7 grossed $1.5 billion globally, and Captain Marvel raked in $1.13 billion.

    Many filmmakers, too, fervently believe in the theatrical experience and want to do their part to keep those communal gathering spots in business. When director John Krasinski announced that A Quiet Place II would shift its release date, he wrote on Instagram, “One of the things I’m most proud of is that people have said our movie is one you have to see all together….As insanely excited as we are for all of you to see this movie…I’m gonna wait to release the film til we CAN all see it together! So here’s to our group movie date!”
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    Gene Ching
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    continued from previous post

    What does this mean for Marvel, DC, and other superhero franchises?

    Gal Gadot as Diana in Wonder Woman 1984 Clay Enos—Warner Bros. & DC Comics

    The state of superhero movies is a little more complicated. The genius of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, up until this point, has been how all the movies are connected to one another. The post-credits scene from, say, a Captain America movie, will set up Black Panther: the Black Panther post-credits scene previews the next Avengers installment, and so on. In order to get the full story, you need to watch all 23 MCU movies.

    Unfortunately, that means Disney doesn’t have much flexibility when it comes to releasing the superhero movies it currently has in the can. In all likelihood, the plot of Black Widow somehow ties in to future movies like Eternals or even Disney+ MCU TV series like Falcon and the Winter Soldier. If Disney were to release any of the movies or shows out of order, it would spoil the entire story. Delays for Black Widow and The Eternals mean that Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Spider-Man 3 will inevitably need to be pushed back as well. That delay also means we likely won’t get to see the X-Men or Fantastic Four characters—whom Marvel Studios acquired when Disney bought 20th Century Fox last year—in any MCU movie for a long time.

    The other studios are a little less dependent on a strict schedule: Warner Bros. has established that Wonder Woman 1984 does not exist in the same universe as The Joker and is only tangentially related to the Harley Quinn movie that premiered earlier this year. Nor does she have anything to do with the Batman movie or the Suicide Squad reboot that are both currently filming. So Warner Bros. can release those movies whenever the studio feels they will be able to turn a profit.

    What does this mean for movie theaters and the moviegoing experience?

    Tenet was supposed to save the movies. It didn’t. No one movie ever could have. It’s made just $45 million domestically. This past weekend, Hocus Pocus, the Bette Midler Halloween film about witches that debuted 27 years ago, beat it at the box office.

    It’s unclear when people will want to go to movie theaters again. Only 17% of Americans feel comfortable attending the movies, according to a mid-August Morning Consult poll. Some health experts have called the movie theater experience during COVID-19 “Russian roulette,” pointing out that theaters make most of their money from concession, but people necessarily have to take off their masks to eat popcorn and slurp their soda. As the weather gets colder and people spend more time indoors in general, experts say we’re likely to see another wave of the virus. If people aren’t willing to attend the movies now, it’s unlikely they’ll be eager to catch the latest flick in the dead of winter if we’re seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases.

    That leaves cinemas in a precarious position, to say nothing of indies and arthouse theaters. Even once there is a vaccine, it’s unclear how long it will take theatergoers to venture out of their homes again: streaming services like Netflix threaten studios’ profits by offering alternative entertainment at home. Cinephiles fear that watching movies at home will become the norm.

    What does this mean for streaming services?

    One thing is certain: streaming is having a banner year. Disney+ and Apple TV+ both launched last fall, and HBO Max and Peacock joined the streaming arms’ race this year. As a result, audiences have more content than ever to choose from at home. This fall is no exception: Amazon Prime has scooped up several Oscar hopefuls, including Steve McQueen’s anthology of films titled Small Axe, Regina King’s directorial feature debut One Night in Miami. Apple TV+ will debut Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks with Bill Murray and Rashida Jones as well as one of this year’s most raved-about animated films, Wolfwalkers. Disney+’s biggest releases will be television series, namely the second season of The Mandalorian and the MCU series WandaVision.

    But all those new services are just playing catchup to Netflix. Netflix has had more time to build up a massive library, and had already filmed most of its 2020 content before the virus hit and thus had to delay few releases. In Q2 of 2020, Netflix generated $6.14 billion in revenue, up from $4.9 billion at the same time last year. And Netflix has begun to experiment with bigger-budget productions made just for the small screen. Recent hits like The Old Guard, Spenser Confidential and Enola Holmes have proven, at least according to Netflix’s own analysis, that mid- to big-budget movies can succeed on streaming. Netflix releases a buzzy new movie or show every week—if not more often. In the coming months, they’ll release the Adam Sandler comedy Hubie Halloween, Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar hopeful Trial of the Chicago 7 and David Fincher’s latest, Mank.

    Streaming probably won’t supplant moviegoing. The movie date will always have a place in American culture. But the pandemic has, for now, accelerated the trend towards watching more content at home—and the timing of the movie date’s return is as uncertain as ever.
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    Premiere date #7?

    Oct 16, 2020 6:17am PT
    Will ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Open on Christmas? ‘I Don’t Think Anybody Can Be Confident,’ Says Patty Jenkins


    By Adam B. Vary


    Wonder Woman 1984
    Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
    When Warner Bros. announced last month that “Wonder Woman 1984” would open on Dec. 25, it was no less than the sixth release date for the movie, and the third since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the film industry to play a losing game of hopscotch with the theatrical release calendar. Once expected to be the biggest movie of the summer, “Wonder Woman 1984” has been pushed this year from June 5 to Aug. 14, then again to Oct. 2, and now to Christmas as practically the only major theatrical release left in the calendar year.

    Asked about the ever-shifting release dates for the project for the latest Variety cover story, “Wonder Woman 1984” costar Pedro Pascal — who plays the villain Max Lord in the film — basically shrugged.

    “As far as movie releases are concerned and the tremendous way that the industry is having to improvise around these circumstances, nothing is surprising,” Pascal said. “We’re all getting used to things shifting day-to-day, hour-to-hour, you know? That’s what we’re all dealing with.”

    Whether Diana Prince will indeed grace multiplexes in the U.S. and Canada in 2020 at all remains very much an open question. Cases in the U.S. are surging once again, flu season is beginning to kick into gear, and some exhibitors have already announced plans to close before Dec. 25 due to the lack of fresh films and moribund consumer interest in attending theaters.

    “I don’t think anybody can be confident of anything right now,” director Patty Jenkins told Variety in a separate interview last month about Pascal. “We just don’t know what the course of COVID is going to be like.”

    Jenkins was quick to add that she’s “very hopeful” her film can still open on Dec. 25. “It feels totally possible to me,” she said.

    Still, by this point in the year, “Wonder Woman 1984” was supposed to have wrapped up its theatrical run after presumably conquering the world. Instead, Jenkins has been caught in an unpleasantly novel variant of Hollywood purgatory.

    “It’s unbelievably surreal,” Jenkins said. “The biggest surreality about it is it’s supposed to be one adventure, right? You sign on to the movie, you write the movie, you direct the movie, you make the movie, the movie comes out, and you move on. Instead, like, I spent three years doing one thing, seven days a week, and then I just popped out of it to just nothing. No evidence of that [work].”

    The filmmaker quickly stopped herself. “I mean, that’s not true. I still work on, you know, Doritos bags bags and stuff like that all the time,” she said. But her film’s been complete for months and yet until mid-September, virtually no one had see it.

    “For the longest time, the only people who’d seen the movie were the people who’d worked on the movie,” she said. “We just showed our own agents. That was thrilling, to finally get to talk to people who didn’t know what the movie was. But it’s super weird to go from making a movie with such detail and being so excited for the experience of people getting to share in that with you, and then just going on to cleaning your house and cooking.”

    For his part, Pascal remained philosophical about the ultimate fate of the biggest movie of his career so far.

    “I don’t know,” he said with a chuckle. “That would that would be like assuming I know scientifically, economically, socially so many large things that are just way above my pay-grade. We have information, but still there’s so much more information to be had and sometimes the information feels like it changes so quickly. As maddening and as scary as that feels like to live with on a day-to-day basis, it does make sense, because this is new. Every time I’m like, ‘Well, why don’t we knoowwww?’ It’s like, because it’s a new virus. It just takes time to figure it out.”
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