In recent years at CinemaCon, premium VOD and the Screening Room were threatening to trample the livelihood or theatrical releases. However, the box office –which could set yet another back-to-back domestic record in 2019 with $ 12 trillion -remains hands-down resilient in the face of new challenges including Disney swallowing up Fox and the emergence of Netflix as an industry game. changer
While the Disney-Fox has indeed collapsed industry production (and winnowed employees), has not winced big theater chains because the biggest muscle in event moviegoing, Disney, remains in charge, protecting the theatrical window. Still, questions about the merger's ongoing impact, the new Marvel, and Fox's revised global distribution operations remain ongoing
Then there's Netflix, which won't hold a session at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace this year but will certainly be the nonstop topic of discussion this week in Las Vegas, especially when the press sits down with MPAA chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin to talk about the streamer's membership in the org, which has historically only included major motion picture studios as members.
The big question first and foremost: Is Netflix breaking into the wide theatrical release space on Martin Scorsese's $ 200 million film production The Irishman this fall? Word is that the Scorsese camp, much like Alfonso Cuarón with his three-Oscar winning Netflix pic Roma, wants a wide theatrical release. And in order for Netflix to pull one off, it will definitely need the help of the big three theater chains: AMC, Cinemark and Regal.
While Roma played a consortium of art house theaters, those movie executives who ve distributed day-and-date or limited theatrical / VOD releases say that best Netflix could score a 500-theater run at max as of now. "Some indies won play on principle," said one rival indie distribution boss with knowledge about theatrical VOD releases.
Certainly, the outcome of the board of governors meeting at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this month will be a deciding factor on how Netflix handles The Irishman . Will it pursue a similar limited rollout strategy like it did with Roma? That plan entailed three weeks of limited theatrical play in major award-winning enclaves prior to streaming on December 14. The current minimum Academy requires a movie to play seven consecutive days in Los Angeles, with a simultaneous streaming release on a service like Netflix or Amazon permissible. Some distribution sources acknowledged to us last season that despite Netflix upsetting some rivals with the Roma rollout the streaming giant was not cheating and played by AMPAS rules. In addition, Netflix's distribution of Roma not novel: IFC Films had pulled off a similar Oscar-qualified theatrical / VOD rollout for Armando Iannucci's In the Loop nine years ago before it scored a Best Adapted Screenplay nom.
Note that after the awards success of Roma, Amazon Studios boss Jennifer Salke made it known that TCA recently considered the Netflix theatrical / streaming model for certain titles down the road
We have heard that plans for a three- or four-week theatrical wide release for The Irishman were kicked around but the fact of the matter is there have not been formal discussions about the Scors movie between exhibition heads and Netflix execs; The official word from Netflix is that there aren't any theatrical plans yet. A wide theatrical release for Irishman would be the ultimate Netflix advertisement for a demo it doesn't quite own yet: Scorsese pics skew toward audiences over 40, while the bulk of those who stream are under 40.  The Irishman, those in industry circles tell us the biggest advice they can give Netflix at a three- or four-week window for Netflix is to their key distribution executive who can feasibly negotiate with the big cat circuits.
"There is a middle ground, and there is a way, they just need the right person at the bargaining table," one studio distribution said, dispensing his two cents to Netflix.
Another wise word to Netflix: Don't repeat Paramount's mistakes when it tried to land a truncated theatrical window for Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension with theater chains . The studio's plan was to get exhibitors on a shortened theatrical window, and make both titles available in the home 17 days after their theater counts dipped below 300. Theaters were given a chance to share in the home entertainment revenue. However, early in the morning Paramount was talking with AMC first, which ticked off the other chains that then barred the two titles. In the end, AMC, Cineplex, National Amusements and Alamo Drafthouse agreed to Paramount's terms. Both pics played in less than 1,700 theaters and tanked, with Ghost Dimension earning a final domestic box office of $ 18.3M and Scouts Guide and awful $ 3.7M. Netflix had to negotiate with the majors in a way where others did not feel boxed out.
While having had a bad taste in its mouth for quite some time over the public slamming it has endured by Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos at various conferences, we hear that the big chains would forgive and forget if the streaming giant decides to respect the 90-day theatrical window.
After being questioned about whether he'd play The Irishman in the fall, AMC Theaters boss Adam Aron told CNBC last month, "This is not a contest between Netflix and AMC, and for that matter the movie industry … As for that matter Netflix, Irishman and Roma, we'd be delighted to play any movie, from any studio, including Netflix, that respects the decades-old theatrical window, which suggests that movies come to theaters first for a couple of months, and then go to the ho Me. If that's what Netflix is willing to do, we're delighted to show their movie in the fall. But we do value the theatrical window, it's something that is important to our company, something that is important to our industry, and something we intend to continue to respect. ”
In a recent interview with Deadline, Cineworld boss Mooky Greidinger said in regards to The Irishman "I think it would be a pity that a movie with such a budget and such talent would not get a proper theatrical release, and would instead be released in a small number and size cinemas. Without a meaningful theatrical release, the movie should not qualify for best movie of the year. ”
Mid-Atlantic coast theater owner and exhibition vet Rick Roman offers and encouraging word to Netflix:“ They are under attack right now with Disney and Apple starting streaming services. With the merger of Disney and Fox, that attack will escalate. A lot of the movies that have been opened in theaters are no longer going to be available to Netflix. What they should do is launch an offensive against their competitors in the streaming business. The studios are launching streaming services that will cut into their territory, so why not go out of the box and offer their content to the theaters? Having an award-winning film or a big popular hit in theaters that Netflix then releases to their subscribers will replace what they are losing from the studios, plus giving them an additional stream of revenue. Throttle theatrical model to win awards and get more directing talent making movies for them. ”
Disney-Fox Also Brings The Noise To CinemaCon: Who will run their combined two-year slate of 40 releases?
This CinemaCon, Fox will officially be folded into Disney's presentation – at a running time of two hours. After Disney axed with Fox distribution brass Chris Aronson and EVP and General Sales Manager Spencer Klein, plenty of questions remain as the new merger has 20 films to release for the remainder of this year and another 20 for 2020. And that's not counting future titles Fox Searchlight might snap up from festivals
Here's what deadline has learned recently: Handling the remainder of the Fox schedule will be Bill Lewis and Linda Ditrinco based out of New York, reporting to Disney SVP and General Sales Manager of North America, Ken Caldwell (who will turn to Disney's EVP Distribution and Franchise Management Cathleen Taff). Managing Fox’s international releases with division boss Andrew Cripp's departure will be Bryan Song and Andrew Marshall, reporting to Disney's SVP International Distribution Jeffrey Forman (he also reports to Taff). Frank Rodriguez will continue to lead Fox Searchlight's distribution ops. How long the current Fox staff remains in place is unknown; in regards to working beyond two years, that will depend on how many titles Big Fox pumps out at Disney.
Fox distribution / marketing executives have experience in turning middle-budget fare – such as The Greatest Showman and Bohemian Rhapsody – into mega commercial awards-season fare, similar to how Miramax functioned under Disney. The hope is that Disney continues to put marketing muscle behind some of these surefire Fox bets and not orphan them, which is traditionally the scenario when a new regime takes over so it didn't shepherd. While Disney has done right at the box office with some Steven Spielberg dramas like Lincoln and Bridge of Spies and DreamWorks' The Help, industry sources believe the studios strong suit is with four-quad branded pics – not dramas, R-rated pics and smaller titles. (When 2012's The Light Between Oceans tanked, rival distribution chiefs sniped that Disney wasn't acquainted with action such as sophisticated art house fare.)
And what about the new Marvel?
The consensus is we won't hear from Marvel boss Kevin Feige this CinemaCon regards to the grand design of the new Disney / Fox Marvel as the merger absorbs Fox's X-Men, Deadpool and Fantastic Four universes. We don't know what the Disney MCU titles are for next year other than that they have been released on the release calendar for May 1 and November 6. The understanding is that the answer will reveal itself sometime after Avengers: Endgame . Again, Disney / Marvel is known to pull off secrets down to the wire, so there is always that slight chance there could be some news this week. The big questions remaining: Does X-Men spinoff The New Mutants get kicked off this summer's release calendar onto Hulu? What will happen with Gambit? Producer Lauren Shuler Donner told us at TCA that the Channing Tatum project's fate is in the hands of the new conglomerate and has been out of development sans a director. One thing that’s certain on Wednesday: expect footage from Fox's summer Dr. Xavier finale Dark Phoenix
Lastly, we will finally see anything from Avatar 2 this year?
It Wouldn't be a shocker if James Cameron returns this year to CinemaCon, and he's long overdue. The last time he was here was three years ago, when he announced the production of four Avatar sequels. The Oscar-winning director's appearance alone could help give a face and renewed sense of vigor to this merger which has left many gloomy in recent weeks post-layoffs.
Remaining Disney-Fox release spoon for 2019-2020
April 17 – Easter Weekend
2 Disney / Fox movies on the marquee
Breakthrough (20th Century Fox)
Penguins (Disney Nature)
Avengers: Endgame (Disney / Marvel)
Tolkein (Fox Searchlight)
2 Disney / Fox movies on the marquee, but Ad Astra rumored to head to the fall  Aladdin (Disney)
Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)
] D ark Phoenix (20th Century Fox)
Toy Story 4 (Disney / Pixar)
Stuber (20th Century Fox)
The Lion King (Disney)  August 2
The New Mutants (20th Century Fox)
rumored to go to Hulu
Artemis Fowl (Disney)
Spies in Disguise (20th Century Fox)