DISNEYLAND Grand Opening on 7/17/1955
Box Office Results...Weekend 7/16-7/18
The Guardian View on the Future of Cinema: Don’t Panic
U.S. Q2 SVOD Growth Cools, Except For Amazon Prime Video
AMC share price gets cut in half as reality sets in for meme stock investors
HFPA Faces Calls For Deeper Reform As Golden Globes Producers Owner Proposes Big Changes
Indie Film and TV Studio A24 Explored Sale With $3 Billion Asking Price
Studio Release Calendar...Week of 7/23-7/29
Studio Release Calendar...Week of 7/30-8/5
DISNEYLAND Grand Opening on 7/17/1955
The Happiest Place on Earth wasn’t anything of the sort for 13 months of pandemic closure. But, happily, Disneyland began coming back to life in late April and by June 15 wasn’t facing any capacity restrictions. Now it’s celebrating the 66th anniversary of its Grand Opening July 17, 1955.
To help finance Disneyland’s construction in Anaheim, Calif., which began July 16, 1954, Walt Disney struck a deal with the then fledgling ABC-TV Network to produce the legendary DISNEYLAND series. For helping Walt raise the $17M he needed — about $135M today — ABC also got the right to broadcast the opening day events.
Originally, July 17 was just an International Press Preview and July 18 was to be the official launch. But July 17’s been remembered over the years as the Big Day thanks to ABC’s live coverage — despite things not having gone well with the show hosted by Walt’s Hollywood pals Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings & Ronald Reagan.
Live TV was in its infancy then and the miles of camera cables it used had people tripping all over the park. In Frontierland, a camera caught Cummings kissing a dancer. Walt was reading a plaque in Tomorrowland on camera when a technician started talking to him, causing Walt to stop and start again from the beginning. Over in Fantasyland, Linkletter sent the coverage back to Cummings on a pirate ship, but Bob wasn’t ready, so he sent it right back to Art, who no longer had his microphone. Outside, it was 101 degrees and high heels were sinking into freshly poured asphalt. Meanwhile, a plumbers
strike forced Walt to choose between having water for fountains or restrooms. He opted for restrooms, but then people complained it was a ploy to sell more soda. Not surprisingly, press coverage of the opening was negative. For many years, Walt and other Disney officials had unhappy memories of July 17.
Happily, things improved very quickly for Disneyland. By 1960, Walt was able to buy out ABC and other early partners. In 1995, Walt Disney Corp. acquired Capital Cities/ABC for about $19 billion, also bringing on board its president — future Disney CEO Bob Iger. Over the years, Disneyland rides have inspired some of the studio’s hit movies — like five PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN episodes and the new action comedy adventure JUNGLE CRUISE, starring Dwayne Johnson & Emily Blunt, that’s widely expected to be one of this summer’s biggest blockbusters when it opens July 30.
“To all who come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land…dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” – Walt Disney
Box Office Results
Box Office Results...Weekend 7/16-7/18
In what can only be considered an upset, Space Jam: A New Legacy over-performed expectations and won the weekend box office title by grossing $31.7M. Black Widow stumbled badly in its second weekend, dropping a staggering 67% when compared with its opening weekend results. The first Friday vs. second Friday decline of 80% may be the largest drop in history for a major title. After setting pandemic records in its first week, the second weekend was expected to be another victory lap for the Scarlett Johansson vehicle. Read Dick Walsh’s Weekend in Review…
|Rank||Title (Distributor)||Week||# Theatres||Weekend $||Per Theatre Average $||Total $|
|1||Space Jam: A New Legacy (Warner Bros.)||1||3,965||$31,053,362||$7,832||$31,053,362|
|2||Black Widow (Walt Disney Studios)||2||4,275||$25,847,496||$6,046||$106,213,808|
|3||Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE))||1||2,815||$8,801,391||$3,127||$8,801,391|
|4||F9: The Fast Saga (Universal Pictures)||4||3,368||$7,673,715||$2,278||$112,162,525|
|5||The Boss Baby: Family Business (Universal Pictures)||3||3,449||$4,730,085||$1,371||$29,606,985|
The Guardian View on the Future of Cinema: Don’t Panic (The Guardian)
Fresh off a successful wrap of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, The Guardian offered its prediction for the future of cinema: don’t panic. As Mark Twain once proclaimed to a gathered audience, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
In a recent essay by Martin Scorsese describing the magic of Federico Fellini’s films, the director lamented the current state of the industry in the age of streaming. “The art of cinema is being systematically devalued, sidelined, demeaned and reduced to its lowest common denominator, ‘content’.” Spike Lee, the President of the Jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, stated that “Cinema and screening platforms can coexist.” Clearly, the talent in Hollywood would prefer that their best work be showcased to audiences on the big screen. Coming out of the pandemic, both cinemas and streamers have an opportunity to take flight together, with the one supporting the other to the greater good of entertainment.
U.S. Q2 SVOD Growth Cools, Except For Amazon Prime Video (Media Play News)
London-based media research firm Kantar published an update on Q2 subscriber counts for all the major U.S. based streaming services. Somewhat predictably, the numbers show a large decline in the growth of new subscribers across the board, coming in at 3.9% growth during Q2 2021, the smallest quarterly rise in new subscribers Kantar had ever recorded. This compares with 12.9% growth during the same quarter last year, when pandemic restrictions were taking hold and consumers were forced to stay at home.
Amazon Prime Video showed the highest growth in number of new subscribers, followed by Discovery+. Netflix maintained its top spot in overall market share, having two thirds of streaming households as subscribers, down from 74% at this time in 2020. Three-quarters of U.S. households access at least one streaming service. A range of advertising supported services are coming on-line which offer low to no-cost subscription rates, which may impact the decisions consumers make on which services to maintain. While growth may be slowing, services may find additional revenue by clamping down account sharing. The Kantar report measured that Netflix in particular was impacted by this phenomenon, with 27% of its subscribers reporting “someone else” pays for the account they use to log into the service.
AMC share price gets cut in half as reality sets in for meme stock investors (CNBC)
The price for AMC Entertainment shares closed on Friday at $33.96, a drop of almost 50% from its peak of $72.62 only last month. Nonetheless, even at the current level the exhibitor’s share price has increased more than 1,400% since its low of $1.91 in January, when pandemic pressures had driven the company to the brink of bankruptcy. Over the past several months, AMC has leveraged its suddenly high-flying share price to raise $1.2 billion in new capital from investors through new stock offerings. These resources will be critical in the company’s ability to pay down its substantial corporate debt, and ride out the slump in moviegoing caused by the pandemic. Still, AMC faces a number of fundamental questions about its future, with studios hedging on their commitment to open their movies at theatres exclusively. AMC may also be challenged to fill seats at their large multiplex locations, with some having as many as 30 screens. However, prospects for this world’s largest exhibitor appear much brighter now than they did at the beginning of the year.
HFPA Faces Calls For Deeper Reform As Golden Globes Producers Owner Proposes Big Changes (Deadline)
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is caught in the throes of a desperate attempt to save itself from oblivion, after the public flogging it has taken this year in the aftermath of a scathing expose published by the Los Angeles Times in February. The Times report highlighted the HFPA’s questionable business practices and a stunning lack of diversity, with not a single one of its 90 members being Black, as one example. The HFPA is attempting to reform itself from within, while facing enormous pressure from Hollywood stakeholders. After a parade of A-List Talent and Studios made statements ending their support for HFPA, NBC followed suit by announcing the cancellation of the 2022 Golden Globes Awards telecast. Last week Dick Clark Productions, the long-time producers of the Golden Globes awards show, delivered a list of recommended reforms that would “fundamentally change” the organization in an effort to rehabilitate its reputation. Later this month, HFPA members are scheduled to vote on a slate of reforms that the organization has developed over the last several months.
Indie Film and TV Studio A24 Explored Sale With $3 Billion Asking Price (Variety)
Amazon’s recent acquisition of MGM Studios and the mega-merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia are the most recent indicators of a new era of consolidation among Hollywood studios. The streaming wars are driving the search for new, original content, and this week Variety was the first to report on mounting interest in A24, the New York-based studio responsible for the award-winning features Moonlight and Uncut Gems and the critically acclaimed TV series Euphoria and Ramy.
It has been rumored for years that A24 has tested the waters of being acquired. However, potential suitors have been put off by the studio’s steep asking price of $2.5-$3 billion, given their limited slate of content. However, Amazon’s recent purchase of MGM has caused a shift in the market for content, making A24’s price tag seem more reasonable. A24’s appeal lies in their brand, which has been built by a strong slate of indie hits and a savvy marketing of their titles. Ever since Daniel Katz and David Finkel founded their studio in 2012, they have navigated the treacherous waters of indie film distribution to become a reliable provider of features that appeal to cinephiles.
Some speculate that A24 may be a natural fit for Apple, whose Apple+ streaming service with its 40 million subscribers is lagging behind the industry leading services of Netflix, Amazon and Disney. Apple has previously worked with A24 on distribution deals for certain A24 feature films and TV series.
Studio Release Calendar