With the digital age affecting the movie business, Hollywood still holds the golden standard in it’s pocket; movie theaters. The relationship between the top 8 studios and theater chains has been a successful (one might argue nearly monopoly like) one for nearly 100 years. However, today’s fast paced digital environment provides short cuts both for producing and consuming content. In fact, earlier in March, the four largest movie theater chains in the United States: Regal, AMC, Cinemark and Carmike signed a distribution deal with producer Robert Simond’s new movie company (STX Entertainment) that bypasses Hollywood’s major studios completely. The deal gives STX access to the Hollywood style theater distribution route. We can’t help but see the road ahead opening up to more of these mid-level companies who have top quality content ready for distribution. With more and more of the major studio films becoming flag ship 200 million dollar pictures, the space for single weekend openers will be getting larger. To give you a little insight into how valuable the U.S. theater market can be, we’ve detailed the top players below.
Movie Theater Releases
Since companies like Apple, Hulu and Amazon started down the path of consuming film content outside of the theater, the film industry has been throwing new ideas all over the place in hopes to find the new “standard” for releasing industry produced feature films. It’s safe to say we still do not have a clear picture on how best to manage the release of a film. For now, studios, who have too much to lose on a film, have taken to the practice of large market saturation of a film promotion often with marketing budgets of 100 million dollars and above. The stakes are high with today’s studio models. Most studios are investor controlled and have a financial obligation to squeeze every last dollar it can out of a film. The rise of mobile and web content consumption has thrown the film industry for a loop and even now we are seeing studios try drastic things to get people into theaters. Let’s review the top players involved in the Studio/Theater game.
The Big Eight:
- 20th Century Fox – now owned by 21st Century Fox.
- Columbia Pictures – now owned by Sony.
- MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).
- Paramount Pictures – now owned by Viacom.
- Paramount is America’s oldest running studio, founded in 1912.
- RKO Radio Pictures – defunct 1957.
- United Artists – purchased by MGM.
- Universal Studios – now a part of NBC Universal.
- Warner Bros. – now Time Warner.
Top Theater Companies
- Regal Entertainment Group – 7,295 screens
- AMC Entertainment Inc- 4,960 screens
- Cinemark Theatres- 4,499 screens
- Carmike Cinemas, Inc.- 2,892 screens
- Cineplex Entertainment- 1,635 screens