Cinemacon is amazing. This is when the studios present their fall and spring collections to theater owners. Industry folks from around the world go to Las Vegas to get an exclusive look at each studio’s upcoming slate.
That usually consists of a studio big-wig sharing the film’s backstory, the introduction of one of the stars, followed by an exclusive clip or the first look at the new trailer.
It is a dog-and-pony show for sure, but it is also a ton of fun. It’s also insightful. For example, from the moment you saw the JOKER trailer at Cinemacon, you just knew it was going to be huge.
While it’s clear that theatrical is in a precarious position, I think we can all agree that we want and need it to survive. CinemaCon presents a unique opportunity to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned over the past 18 months in the hopes that we can take these insights and carve a strategic path to success.
THEATER OR AT HOME?: We’re still collecting data on why people want to see a movie at home or on the big screen. Or what kind of films will drive people to the theaters. A certain genre? An Actor? The problem is that these behaviors are evolving quickly, meaning data from two months ago is likely outdated.
MARVEL IS A POWERHOUSE IN TV. WHAT ABOUT IN FILM? Could it be that Marvel fans prefer to watch a story unfold over nine episodes rather than two hours? The 23 Emmy nominations for WANDAVISION, combined with the less-than-stellar grosses for BLACK WIDOW and THE SUICIDE SQUAD suggest so. Maybe Marvel’s TV success is coming at the expense of its films. This presents us with a huge existential conundrum. What does a post-peak superhero world look like at theatrical? This brings us to…
THANK GOD FOR FREE GUY. The success of FREE GUY is the best thing to happen to theatrical in 18 months. An original IP, a somewhat modest budget, and a very patient campaign that didn’t make the film seem stale (“James Bond”, I’m looking at you).
If superhero movies are past their prime, then what’s going to prop up the box office? It’s going to be films like FREE GUY. Or BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Or KNIVES OUT. There is a magic in mid-budget films that tell great stories, are made with attention to detail, and provide true surprises. These are the films that belong on the big screen.
Think LA LA LAND, HIDDEN FIGURES, THE CONJURING, ROCKY, THELMA & LOUISE, GRAVITY, THE BOURNE IDENTITY, THE TRUMAN SHOW, ABOUT A BOY, and countless others.
As Comicon begins, these are three films that we’re rooting for. We are hoping to learn more about these three over the next few days.
SESAME STREET – What is going on with this movie? Awareness on The Quorum is at 15%, placing it 53rd among upcoming releases. How is it that a very well-known IP that is less than six months from release has such low awareness? We would love a trailer to turn that around. Plus, we’re dying to see what a big screen version of SESAME STREET looks like.
LAST NIGHT IN SOHO – Edgar Wright and Anya-Taylor Joy? Add in a very cool trailer and we’re sold. SOHO got a nice lift in awareness from the trailer in May, but we want more. We’re excited to see this campaign unfold.
DUNE – The Quorum has been tracking DUNE for a year and it has barely budged. Awareness has hovered in the high-20’s to low-30’s for months despite a heavy presence at the Olympics and a highly anticipated trailer. Interest hasn’t budged either. Meanwhile director Denis Villenueve – looking to avoid his second October misfire after BLADE RUNNER 2049 – has stated that he would love DUNE to be part of a trilogy. The fate of that trilogy hinges on the success of DUNE.