Box Office Expert Thinks The Croods Sequel Confirmed Theaters Can Make a Return

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to take a devastating toll around the world, it's hard for most to imagine when we can expect life to return to any normalcy, which would include being able to safely go to movie theaters en masse. Following theaters closing their doors around the world back in March, exhibitors have made various attempts to bring back business, though many of the year's biggest films have been delayed for long stretches of time or instead pivoted to a number of different streaming strategies. Despite anxiety about the future of movie theaters, National CineMedia CEO Tom Lesinski noted that the recent success of The Croods: A New Age proves that theaters will be able to make a comeback.

Over the course of the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, The Croods sequel took in $14 million, with Lesinski noting how this bodes well for the industry during the Bank of America Securities Leveraged Finance Virtual Conference.

“It’s a good indication of not if this industry’s going to recover but when,” the exec shared during the conference, per Deadline. “Consumers are going to come back.”

Earlier this year, Christopher Nolan's Tenet landed in theaters, marking the first major blockbuster to land in theaters following their initial closures. As many studios hoped they could close out the year with some of their major releases, Warner Bros. only recently revealed that Wonder Woman 1984 would be opening in select theaters, though it would also be available on HBO Max for those without safe access to theaters.

With news emerging about a possible vaccine finding success and with a new political administration arriving in January, many experts are hopeful that the pandemic can be controlled in the coming months and that the spring movie season can offer safe opportunities for fans to return to theaters.

“I don’t believe that the pandemic is going to have a significant effect on people’s behavior,” Lesinski shared of long-term effects on moviegoing. “Different studios will be testing different windows and different availability,” though he also noted that he was “confident that consumers will come back to the theaters as soon as there’s a real release schedule."

One streaming avenue that took off during the pandemic was the Premium VOD model, which charged a premium price for films like The King of Staten Island, Bloodshot, and Mulan, which were slated to hit theaters. While PVOD proved a success for studios, Lesinski noted that this blurring of the lines between theatrical and streaming could see more streamers launching their films in theaters.

The exec pointed out that he thinks the top streamers could "look at a theatrical window that they might not have looked at before.”

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Stay tuned for updates on movie theater openings.

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