Exhibition stocks were up today on news from Bloomberg that Amazon is going to commit a reported $1 billion to theatrical releases annually.
We hear that such a plan is truly in its early days — read Amazon doesn’t have an executive yet to lead MGM theatrical. Capisce? Since Amazon bought MGM, it has been trying to figure out how to put the genie back in the bottle: Amazon committed heavily to theatrical with reported box office numbers and wide releases during the Jason Ropell-Bob Berney-Ted Hope administration — sometimes releasing pics through distribution partners such as Lionsgate, STX, Roadside Attractions and Bleecker Street before bringing it in-house under IFC day-and-date distribution czar Mark Boxer. When Jen Salke took charge of the studio in 2018, she pivoted to a Netflix-like theatrical/streaming model with limited theatrical releases over a shorter or day-and-date window synced with a Prime Video drop.
Since snapping up MGM, natch, a return to theatrical has been on the minds of the Amazon bosses. They’re in the process of re-firming contracts with MGM theatrical marketing and distribution. We hear the plan is for eight to 10 films annually, not 12. Amazon is in the process of trying to fill the vacancy left by former MGM bosses Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy, who moved to Warner Bros this year. Former Warner Bros. President of Production Courtenay Valenti is one of the continued key contenders for the gig, though no formal talks have commenced.
In fact — get this– Amazon has a wide theatrical release this weekend in United Artists Releasing’s Bones and All from filmmaker Luca Guadagnino. And Amazon has Orion’s Till in theaters, where it has grossed $8.6M. What was the highest-grossing Amazon Studios movie ever? The Casey Affleck-Michelle Williams drama Manchester by the Sea, which cashed in $48M stateside and $79M worldwide. The pic won Oscars for Affleck as Best Actor and filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan’s original screenplay.
Among the highlights of exhibitor stock activity today: Cinemark was +12.6%, closing at $12.83; AMC was +4.37% to $7.64; Imax jumped 9% to $15.78; and Marcus was at $15.99, +1.85%.
Again, the shift to theatrical releases is an indication of where the wind is blowing in the industry and how a windowed system for IP is more prized, not just by motion picture studios but streamers as well. Netflix is experimenting with a one-week theatrical release via the three big theater chains today with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. We hear advance tickets sales are soaring ahead of other frosh adult theatrical releases this weekend like The Fabelmans, and Devotion. Many of the big movies that Amazon has had on Prime Video — Cinderella, Hotel Transylvania 4, Coming 2 America and The Tomorrow War — were other studios’ movies that they shelled out big bucks for.
Amazon declined to comment on the news today.