Home Bookselling Regal’s Rough Summer – by Sonny Bunch

Regal’s Rough Summer – by Sonny Bunch

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Regal Cinemas is the second largest theater circuit in the United States, operation of 505 theaters in 42 states for a total of 6,787 screens. It is owned by the British company Cineworld, which has almost 9,200 screens worldwide in more than 750 cinemas. The company employs approximately 28,000 people worldwide.

And since this week, Cineworld had about $4 million, with an M, in cash.

Like some other cinema chains, including Alamo Drafthouse, Cineworld has filed for bankruptcy in the face of Covid-related setbacks. Things are less dire than they used to be but more dire than hoped: 2020 and 2021 have been horrible years, but 2022 hasn’t seen as steady a recovery as hoped for and a steady lack of product from studios over the past two months has finally sent the company over the edge.

Regal, which I’ve always had a soft spot for as a first theater with stadium seating relatively close to my home growing up, isn’t expected to go away in the immediate future. But bankruptcy filings demonstrate how precarious the business is for exhibitors, largely because theater companies own very little.

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They don’t own the movies; they allow them from the studios. That’s why some of the biggest creditors are the studios themselves. As Jill Goldsmith reports to Deadline, Cineworld must Lionsgate $15 million, Universal $20.4 million, Walt Disney $14 million, Warner Bros. $7.6 million, Sony $3.2 million and IMAX $11 million.

Theater companies often do not own the theaters themselves. They are usually rented, either as mall pillars or as part of a mall. And as we learned during the bankruptcy hearing, Regal has approximately 500 leases in the United States totaling approximately $60 million in monthly rent. These rents were not paid last month.

All this to say that the reason theater owners and lovers of the theatrical experience have watched August and September in dread is that theaters depend on a relatively steady infusion of cash via ticket sales and pop -corn to keep the lights on. And maybe this helps people understand why AMC bought a gold mine after their infusion of cash via the meme stocks phenomenon of 2021. On the one hand, that doesn’t seem natural for a movie company. On the other hand: at least it’s something they can own and rely on if the movie stream slows down again.

Because it’s not like the gold mines run dry, is it?

If you’ve ever wanted to understand the bookseller business, you need to listen this week’s BGTH with Eric Nelson. Informative from start to finish, I guarantee.

This week I saw again Barbaric, a movie you should see before reading the reviews. I say go see it, it’s the review, go see it and then come back and read my review. Or read the first part of my review to see if this is your general cup of tea, then go check it out, then read the second part of my review. In both cases.

In Across the Movie Aisle this week, we discussed Three thousand years of nostalgia and wrapped up the summer movie season. Make sure you check our special bonus episode on the work of Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, two of our most interesting actors.

Be sure to read Bill Ryan writing on the books of Jay Cronley. Or rather the Jay Cronley books that became the movies funny farm, Let it rideand Quick change.

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The Entertainment Strategy Guy breakdown of the American media consumer is fascinating. I’m not sure what exactly a religious-focused streaming service would look like – Pure Flix already exists; as a pagan, I have no idea what’s on it or who’s watching it, but it definitely looks like an underexplored market in an age of niches.

The arrival of Wall*E to the Criterion collection sounds like a big deal, at least in terms of the potential expansion of titles available for Criterion canonization. Hopefully Disney opens its vaults and those of 20th Century Fox to the folks at the store’s physical media provider.

I unenthusiastically watch the news the Lord of the Rings show on Prime Video (it’s good), but it especially makes me want to see again The Fellowship of the Ring. This film remains the best of the Peter Jackson adaptations, largely because it ends with the show’s most personal – and therefore most relevant – big fight. Boromir’s desperate defense of the hobbits and Aragorn’s against the hordes of Uruk-hai remain the absolute emotional peak of the series as well as being the best and best-edited of all major battles. Just top-tier big-budget films.