Regal Entertainment Group Chairman and CEO Mike Campbell and NATO President and CEO John Fithian chat about theatrical exhibition with The Hollywood Reporter’s Carl DiOrio.
Before getting outside the box office, they get right into it:
HOLLYWOODREPORTER: Will summer 2008 set another new boxoffice record?
: We have a strong slate of films this summer, but what you’re missing is what I’d call the three money-in-the bank films you saw last year in May. There’s a lot of diversity in product this summer, but will it be a record summer? I can’t say that. CAMPBELL
FITHIAN: This year we have a few more unknowns. Some of those will surprise on the upside and some on the downside.
THR: And the year?
CAMPBELL: What I would say about the fourth quarter is that last year that was our weakest quarter, so on a comparable basis I think there’s more powerful product in that quarter of this year.
FITHIAN: I don’t disagree at all. I think it’s also important to remember we are coming off two up years in a row.
THR: Exhibitors tend to like less restrictive ratings, yet there continues to be a regular flow of R-rated movies. Are you OK with that?
: From a selfish, economic point of view as an exhibitor, we do better with PG and PG-13 films, and on any given year you generally see 17 or 18 of the top 20 films as PG or PG-13. There is still a place for R-rated films, but we do better at the boxoffice and at the concessions with PG and PG-13 films. CAMPBELL
FITHIAN: I am mystified why everybody in
wants to be Quentin Tarantino instead of trying to sell movie tickets. Hollywood
THR: Any other specific advice for
on the kind of pictures they should make? Hollywood
FITHIAN: More family titles of any genre. When you take an action film and decided to make it PG-13 instead of R, it does better. And in most cases, if you have a comedy and decide to make it PG-13 it does better, although there certainly is a role for the harder-edge comedies as well. But as the father of a 5-year-old, there are times I am looking to go to the movies with my child and can’t.
THR: You like to encourage “ 12-month releasing.” Isn’t there a limit to how many tentpoles can open while school is in session?
FITHIAN: Yes, but we’re still doing it wrong. Virtually every school in the country is still in session the first weekend in May, and the biggest movies in 2007 were released over the first weekend in May. Yet we leave April almost entirely off the table, and the circumstances of school are very similar in April and May.
There are only so many blockbusters you can tolerate in the year, but in summer when they are so close together we are losing money. With those huge titles last May, we lost— in my estimation —$50 million$100 million because we had them all in one month. If one of those had been in April, I think we would have made a lot more money.
: We could increase the boxoffice several percentage points by having a release schedule that was spread a little more evenly. CAMPBELL
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