For all the talk of pandemic impacts on the cinema industry, the rise and rise of streaming and the reduction from 90+ days to 45 days between theatrical and home releases, there is a bigger problem, facing cinemas. AMC CEO Adam Aron has laid it out bluntly. There is now not enough product.

The lack of new movies is harming theatre businesses. On the quarterly earnings call he referred to this, saying:

“Above all else, is that movie theatre operators need more movies. At this point, there is only one topic that should be… on the tip of all tongues.”

The number of films out in the market is 20-30% down on pre-pandemic levels. The box-office is now almost entirely driven by fewer huge tentpole releases and there is nothing filling the gaps in between. These smaller movies are finding a more natural home on streaming, where they can take much longer to gain viewers at a more relaxed pace.

Also, removing the pressure of a theatrical release can allow creatives to take more risks, which in turn drives those creatives towards streaming release options.

Just looking at the box office numbers it would be easy to conclude that a recovery is in progress, but the numbers disguise a root cause of issues that still remain. The numbers are driven entirely by huge releases. This years Top Gun: Maverick is an example. However outside these there is nothing. No counter programming. No rom-com sitting in a multiplex alongside the latest actioner. When the big opening weekends of the big movies are open, theatres are standing empty, waiting for the next Marvel effort.

AMC has diversified, with AMC credit cards, AMC Popcorn in supermarkets, and AMC Stubs, but the simple fact is that without product to exhibit, theatres are on life support.

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