William Fox Dies 5/8/1952
Weekend Results... 5/6-5/8
Cinemark Sees Higher Admissions Amid Reduced Film Slate
‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’…Except In Parts Of The Middle East
Movie-theater execs dish on major studios and a theatrical comeback
NBC Could Replace Globes With SAG
Summer 2019’s Top Hit Was Spring Release
Studio Releases... 5/13-5/19
Studio Releases... 5/20-5/26
William Fox Dies 5/8/1952
William Fox’s name lives on today as a cable news brand, while the movie studio he founded has disappeared into the shadows of Hollywood history.
Fox, who died May 8, 1952, at 73, came from Hungary to NY as a child and worked in the garment business before buying into a Brooklyn nickelodeon in 1904. He soon owned 15 nickelodeons and began distributing films.
The major studios, operating under licenses from movie technology inventor Thomas Edison, formed the Motion Picture Patents Co. in 1908 and the General Film Co. in 1910 as monopolies to produce and distribute films. Fox refused to sell out to them and sued under the Sherman Antitrust Act, winning a $370,000 settlement and changing how the fledgling movie business developed.
He formed Fox Film Corp. Feb. 1, 1915, moving into production and enjoying great success with his first star, Theda Bara, known as “The Vamp” for her 1915 drama A FOOL THERE WAS. Fox purchased German patents in 1925 & ’26 that led to the Fox Movietone sound-on-film system first heard on F.W. Murnau’s 1927 drama SUNRISE. Movietone caught on, replacing Warner Bros.’ sound-on-disc system Vitaphone.
An opportunity to dramatically increase Fox’s movie holdings presented itself after Marcus Loew’s untimely death at 57 in September 1927. His theatre chain, Loew’s, Inc., had 1924 formed MGM, which became Hollywood’s top studio. Fox met in 1928 with Loew’s successor, Nicholas Schenck, and proposed buying the Loew Family’s large shareholdings so he could merge MGM into Fox.
Schenck had already had proposals from Paramount & Warner Bros., but Fox sweetened his $50M deal by offering Schenck a $10M fee. After about six months of secret negotiations, Schenck and Fox announced a deal on Feb. 24, 1929. This was a very unpleasant surprise to MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer, who used his friendship with then-President Herbert Hoover to give Fox anti-trust problems. Trying to work things out, Fox was going to play golf with Schenck on Long Island, where they both lived, but fate intervened.
Fox’s chauffeur got lost and was killed after he hit another car. Fox was seriously hurt and out of action for three months — during which the stock market crashed, wiping him out. He lost control of his company, which was taken over in May 1935 by the hot two-year-old studio 20th Century Pictures, creating 20th Century-Fox. In 2019, as part of a $71.3B deal with Rupert Murdoch, Disney acquired 20th Century-Fox, turning it into a production label called 20th Century Studios.
“I always bragged of the fact that no second of those contained in the twenty-four hours ever passed but that the name of William Fox was on the screen, being exhibited in some theatre in some part of the world.”
– William Fox
Box Office Results
Weekend Results... 5/6-5/8
DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS kicks off the summer of 2022 with a box office explosion of $185M over its first three days in theatres, exceeding most pre-release predictions which pegged it at $160M -$180M. It is also a powerful result in comparison to the original DOCTOR STRANGE from November 2016. This year’s Friday gross on its own beat the entire three day $85M opening weekend of the original in 2016. Overall, this weekend’s result is more than twice the result of its earlier chapter. Disney set a post pandemic record by releasing the picture ultra-wide to 4,543 theatres. It’s one more indication that moviegoing is rebounding and the much-needed effect of the Disney/Marvel blockbuster is alive and well.
Speaking of Disney, Hollywood’s biggest studio has been “missing in action” since it released ENCANTO last November 24th. Disney’s Twentieth Century Studios (the formerly independent Twentieth Century Fox) has only released one picture in 2022, DEATH ON THE NILE on February 11th. It reeled in a small catch of $46M in total domestic gross. The Disney’s Marvel Studios has sat idle since releasing ETERNALS on November 5th. This inactivity has resulted in Disney accounting for a miniscule 1% share of the 2022 box office across all its studios. In 2019, the last full year prior to the pandemic year, the combined output of Disney, Fox and Marvel made up 37% of the box office, and Disney had emerged as the leading studio of the decade. After the recent five month hiatus from theatres, the total industry box office for 2022 sits at only 54% of the amount earned by this same time in 2019.
The industry needs Disney to produce hits using all its intellectual properties, and deliver them to theatres to drive the box office. Interestingly, Disney’s stock price is down 40% from this point one year ago. Perhaps Disney needs exhibition as much as exhibition needs Disney. With scheduled upcoming releases of LIGHTYEAR (6/17), THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (7/8), BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (11/11) STRANGE WORLD (11/25) and AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER (12/16), there is still enough firepower left for Disney to rise to a 2022 market share in the range of the upper 20%, and this will go a long way towards helping exhibitors on their long road to recovery.
Holdover titles THE BAD GUYS and SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 were able to finish second and third by earning $9.8M and $6.8M respectively. The huge gap between first and second place is not uncommon and in fact DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS accounted for 84% of the entire weekend box office for all titles in release. Some weeks ago, we noted the A24’s strategic expansion of its EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE over its first three weeks in release. Now in its 7th week, we see that the picture added another $3.3M this weekend, and is still playing at over 1,500 theatres. It appears on track to wind up with a total box office gross of $50M. Kudos to A24 for proving that well-chosen, independent titles still have the potential to appeal to broad audience of moviegoers, and bring success to film makers and theatre owners. The total gross for all films this weekend is estimated at $219.1M, which represents 110% of the same weekend in 2016.
|Rank||Title (Distributor)||Week||# Theatres||Weekend $||Per Theatre Average $||Total $|
|1||Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Disney/Marvel)||1||4,534||$187,420,998||$41,337||$187,420,998|
|2||The Bad Guys (Universal Pictures)||3||3,839||$9,573,985||$2,494||$49,761,300|
|3||Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Paramount Pictures)||5||3,358||$6,019,743||$1,793||$134,622,595|
|4||Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (Warner Bros.)||4||3,051||$4,264,246||$1,398||$68,725,277|
|5||Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)||7||1,542||$3,528,416||$2,288||$29,254,992|
Cinemark Sees Higher Admissions Amid Reduced Film Slate (Hollywood Reporter)
Cinemark’s incoming CEO, Sean Gamble, gave an upbeat view of his company’s Q1 earnings, highlighting dramatic year-over-year improvements in attendance, revenue, and profitability. Gamble pointed out that “nearly every film released in 2022 has performed in line or better than pre-pandemic expectations.” The exhibitor’s current year revenue was up over 300% compared with Q1 2021.
Cinemark is widely considered among the best-managed large theatre circuits in North America. Gamble plans to expand film offerings and invest in technology and new amenities to enhance the moviegoing experience.
Cinemark has been willing to work with Netflix on brief theatrical runs for the streamer’s top titles, including a 1-week run last year for Zach Snyder’s zombie heist thriller ARMY OF THE DEAD. The exhibitor has pointed to the shrinking release calendar from traditional studios as an important reason to explore new relationships with streamers.
Cinemark also announced an initiative to install laser projection at all locations and expand reclined seating installations. While expensive, many believe that offering these amenities is essential to lure casual moviegoers to the theatre.
‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’…Except In Parts Of The Middle East (Deadline)
Until a few years ago, studio execs considered international markets an emerging source of new revenue for their releases, fueling profitability for each new release. Most high-grossing films would derive over 50% of their revenue from markets outside North America.
Unfortunately, international markets have become less dependable since tightly controlled markets such as China, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have enforced a degree of censorship, even banning certain titles for political and cultural reasons.
The oversight and control are not limited to the major blockbusters. This week, authorities in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait announced a ban on local releases for the indie hit EVERTYHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, citing the same-sex relationship which is featured in the story.
While studios are unlikely to alter their content choices to suit Middle Eastern markets, they have shown a willingness to tailor film content to pass muster with Chinese regulators. China has blocked certain titles, with the latest example being DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS.
The infraction was a brief scene with a newspaper stand appearing to display an issue of the Epoch Times, a news outlet known to publish critical statements about the Chinese government. Meanwhile, most Hollywood studios themselves have stopped releasing new films in Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The cumulative effect calls in question the results one can expect going forward from worldwide releases.
See also: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness scene causes backlash in China (The Independent)
Movie-theater execs dish on major studios and a theatrical comeback (Business Insider)
Theatres are riding high after this weekend’s blockbuster box office performance for DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS, lifting industry spirits to a pandemic-era high. The good vibes between exhibitors and studios began at CinemaCon, where the major studios committed to supporting the theatrical window and showcased a slate of upcoming tentpoles such as TOP GUN: MAVERICK (5/24), JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION (6/10), and AVATAR 2: THE WAY OF WATER (12/16) among others.
Business Insider’s Travis Clark reviews the 2022 lineup for each major studio and polls various exhibitors to get their perspectives on the state of moviegoing.
At CinemaCon, studios made bankable commitments to exhibitors. Universal unveiled 20 theatrical releases in 2022, Warner Bros. committed to using a 45-day exclusive theatrical window for all their major 2022 releases, and Disney showcased a series of upcoming titles, also using a 45-day exclusive theatrical window.
There are some concerns about the studios’ output, with the release schedule for Warner Bros. and Paramount seeming to thin out at the end of 2022. The future of theatrical releases from MGM is unclear in the wake of the studio’s acquisition by Amazon.
NBC Could Replace Globes With SAG
Actors are used to rejection, but SAG just got a big one with TNT & TBS canceling its awards telecast.
SAG’s been a TNT event since 1998 (and since ’07 on TBS), but its ratings have eroded badly — as they have for all awards shows, especially the Oscars. This year’s SAG telecast drew just 1.8M viewers.
Those ratings were ill-timed since T & T is now owned by Warner Bros. Discovery. Its new management has promised $3B in post-merger savings, so scrapping the SAG festivities was a no-brainer.
It could, however, turn out to be SAG’s lucky day. However good a show SAG produces, it’s not going to get 25M viewers on T & T. But it could on NBC, perhaps with some Peacock streaming. NBC could grab SAG to replace the tarnished Golden Globes show that it put on hiatus this year.
SAG celebrates movies & TV and is the one awards show that could easily equal or surpass the star wattage of the old Globes party (pictured – Brad Pitt & Jennifer Anniston at SAG 2020). Everybody in SAG’s an actor, so SAG’s got ’em if you want famous faces drinking champagne!
It also helps that viewers recognize the SAG-AFTRA guild’s Hollywood brand name. Its highly diversified group of about 124,000 members is far more credible than the 90-odd HFPA members who voted for the Globes. Best of all, SAG is not overshadowed by allegations of improprieties as the HFPA was last year.
Summer 2019’s Top Hit Was Spring Release
If we had a MULTIVERSE wormhole to travel back to in the summer of 2019, we’d find a world with no idea of its tragic future.
At the multiplexes, we’d see a sky’s-the-limit boxoffice where records were best written with pencils. Figuring out the summer’s top-grossing film would be complicated because that summer didn’t begin with the first weekend in May. That’s because Disney/Marvel opened AVENGERS: ENDGAME on 4/26/19 (pictured), echoing its 4/27/18 opening of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR.
ENDGAME’s first weekend generated a staggering $357.1M vs. INFINITY’s $257.7M. The problem was that, according to Hollywood’s records keepers, summer ran from 5/3 – 8/31, which put ENDGAME in the spring (3/1 – 5/2).
So ENDGAME wound up as spring 2019’s top title with $858.4M domestic, most of which was earned during the summer. The summer of 2019’s official Top Five (+ domestic cumes) were: Disney’s THE LION KING ($543.6M); Disney/Pixar’s TOY STORY 4 ($434M); Sony/Marvel’s SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME ($390.5M); Disney’s ALADDIN ($355.6M); and Universal’s FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS HOBBS & SHAW ($174M).
Those numbers were mostly to dream about in the pandemic multiverse we’ve been trapped in these past two years, but this summer should be a different story with tentpoles like TOP GUN: MAVERICK (5/27), JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION (6/10), LIGHTYEAR (6/17), MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU (7/1); and THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (7/8).
Studio Release Calendar