May 16, 2021 18:14

Convention Business Dead?

Have you ever met a “strategic thinker?” We’ve known a few and they always seem to be a step ahead of the curve. All we can figure is they’re wired a little differently and can put together disparate information to come up with something that looks off-the-wall, but turns out to make a lot of sense.

Take this press release from Warner Brothers Thursday (sorry about the NYT link):

  • In a startling move that marked the biggest challenge yet to Hollywood’s traditional way of doing business, Warner Bros. announced on Thursday that 17 movies — its entire 2021 slate — would each arrive simultaneously in theaters and on its sibling streaming service, the underperforming HBO Max.

    Rather than having to wait roughly 90 days, the period that studios have long given theaters to play films exclusively, HBO Max subscribers will receive instant access to big-budget extravaganzas like a “Suicide Squad” sequel, “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Dune” and “The Matrix 4.” Other movies speeding to living rooms next year include Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights,” Clint Eastwood’s “Cry Macho,” the next “Conjuring” horror film, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and a “Sopranos” prequel called “The Many Saints of Newark.”

    While the move amounted to 17 shots in the arm for HBO Max, which has struggled to attract subscribers since its introduction in May for $15 a month, it was also a strikingly grim comment on the future of movie theaters. Even with a widely deployed vaccine, which is expected in the coming months, WarnerMedia does not believe that moviegoing in the United States will recover until at least next fall, an assessment that stands in sharp contrast with what other major movie studios and multiplex chains have signaled.

Our friend dropped us a line a day later:

  • You know what this means for convention travel and destination cities?

This is also a none-to-subtle sign that the big cineplexes are dead companies walking. There is an awful lot of prime real estate with mega-plexes downtown and in outlying suburbs that are on the verge of losing a huge anchor tenant. 

Tie that into combination operations like Water Tower Place that already have major tenants looking to move out when leases expire and….get the picture?

Now add in conventions.

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