The future of the cinema industry may seem bleak in the US as audiences are slow to return to theaters and blockbuster features are postponed until 2021, but director Ron Howard doesn’t think this 100-year-old company will go away.
“I just don’t think the theater experience will go away entirely,” Howard said on CNBC’s Squawk Alley on Thursday. “We see it in Europe and Asia. People want to go back to the cinema. You know, it still has a huge function.”
The majority of the large and small theater chains have supported massive losses in the past six months when the pandemic forced theaters to close and studios to reschedule film releases. With the number of Covid-19 cases continue to increaseMany Americans still avoid indoor public spaces.
In 2019, the domestic box office reported $ 11.4 billion in ticket sales, the second-highest revenue in the history of the industry. So far, the US and Canada raised only $ 2.05 billion in 2020. At the same time last year, the domestic box office had sales of more than $ 8.4 billion. That is a decrease of more than 75%.
While more than half of the US theaters have reopened, Hollywood continues to delay major releases and audiences show no signs of a comfortable return until a vaccine is in place.
The National Association of Theater Owners warned that 69% of small and medium-sized theaters could be forced to file for bankruptcy or close permanently if this continues. This would result in 66% of all theater jobs being lost.
On Wednesday, dozens of filmmakers joined NATO, the Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture Association to urge Congress to help theater owners affected by Covid-19.
“As Covid carries on in the country, it was important for the theater owners who [directors guild] and producers guild to make that request, “said Howard.
Howard was joined by producer Brian Glazer on Squawk Alley on Thursday. The couple shared details about Imagine Impact, an offshoot of their production company Imagine Entertainment, which aims to better attract new talent in the entertainment industry. Imagine Impact recently completed its Series A funding round.
Howard and Glazer agreed that streaming was gaining traction before the pandemic but grew in popularity as people were forced to stay at home.
“Streaming is here to stay,” said Glazer. “It is the center of the life force of storytelling right now.”
Still, none of the filmmakers see the pandemic as the cause of death for cinemas.
“Formats are changing, no question about it, viewers’ interests are changing and Covid is accelerating this to some extent,” Howard said that the audience is shifting more towards streaming during the pandemic. “But, you know, that’s still an important part of the industry and it’s not going away. Not only is it important now, it has real economic implications.”