lord of the rings

Original ‘LOTR’ Cast Stands in Solidarity With ‘Rings of Power’ Cast Amid Racist Backlash

The original cast of “The Lord of the Rings” movies are standing in solidarity with the diverse cast of Amazon’s new series “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” The cast of “The Rings of Power” have been on the receiving end of a slurry of hateful messages from racist “fans” of the LOTR franchise. These fans are unhappy with the casting decision and feel that it does not represent what they perceive to be LOTR author J.R.R. Tolkien’s vision of its fantasy world, “Middle-earth.”

Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd, Sean Astin, and Dominic Monaghan publicly supported the new cast members on social media. They posted photos wearing hats and t-shirts featuring a row of human, goblin, and elf ears in various shades of skin tone. The four actors played the four hobbits in Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation of the LOTR trilogy.

The actors captioned their posts with “you are all welcome here,” which quickly became a hashtag and reaffirmed their support. The merchandise designed by Don Marshall also features the phrase printed in “elvish.” 50% of the merchandise sales profits go to a nonprofit supporting POC.

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On a statement on Instagram, The Lord of the Rings on Prime account wrote a response to the controversy.

“We refuse to ignore it or tolerate it. JRR Tolkien created a world which, by definition, is multi-cultural. A world in which free peoples from different races and cultures join together, in fellowship, to defeat the forces of evil. “Rings of Power” reflects that. Our world has never been all white, fantasy has never been all white. Middle-earth is not all white. BIPOC belong in middle-earth and they are here to stay.”

This is not the first time a cast’s diversity or lack of diversity stirred controversy. A few weeks before “The Rings of Power” started streaming, a prequel to the TV fantasy series “Game of Thrones” called “House of Dragons” was released. Fans noticed that the prequel attempts to create a more diverse world than in “Game of Thrones.” A few years ago, Idris Alba received backlash when rumors of him playing James Bond circulated in the media.

Neil Gaiman, a fantasy and science-fiction author and screenwriter, has also come out in support, dismantling some of the arguments circulated by racist fans. On Twitter, one user posted, “browner of skin means tanned white similar to people who work in the sun,” to which Gaiman responded, “Tolkien didn’t say ‘The Harfoots spent longer in the sun than any of the other hobbits and were a lot more tanned.” He said that Tolkien described them as “browner of skin.”

The TV adaptation of “The Sandman,” released on Netflix recently, features a similarly diverse cast. In the show, one of the characters, “Death,” is white in the comics and is played by a Black actor named Kirby Howell-Baptiste. Female actors played other characters who were originally male in the comics. Gaiman wrote the original comic and was one of the developers of the show.

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Actor Whoopi Goldberg also came out in support and talked about the absurdity of a diversity rule placed on a fantasy world. Goldberg said, “they don’t exist in the real world.”

“There are no dragons. There are no hobbits. Are you telling me Black people can’t be fake people too? Is that what you’re telling me? I don’t know if there’s like a hobbit club, I don’t know if there are gonna be protests, but people! What is wrong with y’all?”

“The Rings of Power” takes place in Tolkien’s Middle-earth second age, before the timeline of the first book. It is streaming on Amazon Prime.

award

Taylor Swift Teases New Album “Midnights” At MTV Video Music Awards

Sunday night marked a historic night as Taylor Swift won the biggest award of the night, Video of the Year. 

Her music video for “All Too Well: The Short Film” marked Swift’s third win in the category after previously winning for her videos “Bad Blood” in 2015 and “You Need To Calm Down” in 2019. 

“I know with every second of this moment that we wouldn’t have been able to make this short film if it weren’t for you, the fans because I wouldn’t be able to rerecord my albums if it weren’t for you,” said Swift.

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But along with the headlines covering her big win, she also surprised the world with the announcement that her next big album is on the way.

“I had sort of made up my mind that, if you were going to be this generous and give us this, I thought it might be a fun moment to tell you that my brand-new album comes out Oct. 21. And I will tell you more at midnight…” Swift said as she wrapped up her acceptance speech.

At the stroke of midnight, Swift made the official announcement on social media of the arrival of her 10th studio album. 

Swift described the record as “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life. This is a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams.”

“Midnights” marks Swift’s first full length album since her successful album “Folklore” which debuted in 2020 during the pandemic. 

Other than “Folklore,” the only other piece of original music that she released was the song “Carolina” which was featured in the movie “Where the Crawdads Sing.”

The new LP is set to contain 13 tracks within it. “Midnights” will contain fewer songs than her last releases contained. 

In 2020 when Swift dropped both “Folklore” and “Evermore,” both albums contained 16 and 15 songs on them respectively. 

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Her latest re-release of her 2012 album “Red” held 30 songs within the record. 

Upon the end of the announcement online, Swift mentioned “For all of us who have tossed and turned and decided to keep the lanterns lit and go searching — hoping that just maybe, when the clock strikes twelve … we’ll meet ourselves.”

Only time will tell what Swift means by what she is teasing about her newest release and fans can find out when the album drops at midnight on Oct.21.

“Midnights” is now available on pre-order on four different formats: vinyl, CD, cassette and as a digital album.

stage

Olivia Wilde Speaks Out For The First Time Over Being Served Child Custody Papers At CinemaCon

In the recent CinemaCon, the ticketed industry convention for theater exhibitors, Olivia Wilde was looking forward to introducing her latest film “Don’t Worry Darling” to the people in attendance. 

As Wilde was getting ready to show some footage for the new movie, she was handed an envelope which was originally perceived as containing a script. Within the envelope actually contained child custody papers that were from her former partner, Jason Sudeikis. 

“Mr. Sudeikis had no prior knowledge of the time or place that the envelope would have been delivered as this would solely be up to the process service company involved and he would never condone her being served in such an inappropriate manner,” read a statement that was on behalf of Sudeikis. 

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Wilde has just spoken to sources about the incident for the first time since it occurred this past April. 

Wilde said to Variety that she felt it was “deeply painful” for her children to be involved in a matter that should’ve remained private. 

“It was my workplace. In any other workplace, it would be seen as an attack. It was really upsetting. It shouldn’t have been able to happen.”

After she received the envelope, she carried on in a professional manner and further continued her presentation on “Don’t Worry Darling.”

Wilde felt very frustrated that an instance like this had distracted so many from the work that many different people and workers from the studio were trying to present to the public. 

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“To try to sabotage that was really vicious. But I had a job to do; I’m not easily distracted,” said Wilde. But the incident also didn’t leave her surprised that it was something that actually happened. 

In her recent cover story with Variety, Wilde also recently revealed that she had to make the hard decision to push back her next project, “Perfect,” which was originally planned to start production this summer. 

With all the recent events, Wilde felt like now wasn’t the right time to be away from her children and to dedicate the long hours on-set as a director. 

Since her next film “Perfect,” also went back into development, Wilde believed that she also needed a break and that it was also time for her to be a stay-at-home mom for a while. 

“It was not the year for me to be on a set, which is totally all-encompassing. It was time for me to pause and devote myself to the kids when I have them,” said Wilde.

disney+

Sorry, Streamers: Disney+ Subscription Cost To Rise 38% In December

For many, multiple streaming subscriptions have become the norm – and unfortunately for you and your wallet, that might soon become challenging.

Disney has announced it will be raising the monthly ad-free subscription price of Disney+ to $10.99, a 38% increase, on Dec. 8th. To keep the same price, users will have to opt into an ad-based tier, which will launch on the same day.

In an analyst conference call, CFO Christine McCarthy voiced her confidence the increases won’t be a dealbreaker for subscribers. “We expect the ad tier to be popular and we expect some people to want to stay with ad-free,” she said.

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Disney also noted Hulu will see its price raised by $2 to $14.99 on Oct. 10th, while the ad-based tier will see a $1 increase, from $6.99 to $7.99. The entertainment giant offers a bundle of ad-free Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for $13.99 a month, which will also raise $1 to $14.99. Like the other increases, you can opt to keep the price the same, but all subscriptions will come with ads.

The company had previously upped Disney+’s ad-free tier from $6.99 to $7.99 back in 2021 after bursting out onto the streaming screen in November 2019, passing the number of expected subscribers within its first year.

That torrent pace — fueled by shows like “The Mandalorian” — continues to see ups, with Disney+ scoring over 14.4 million more subscribers than expected this past quarter, bringing it to 152 million total (a 31% year-over-year change).

The long-term forecast isn’t as pleasant. Disney now expects the service to reach around 215 million to a maximum of 245 million subscribers by the end of fiscal 2024, a lowered estimate that was originally pegged around 230 million to 260 million two years ago.

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Disney and CEO Bob Chapek’s reasoning for the increase is that it’s a necessary evil to match their increased content, which includes “Star Wars” and Marvel. “We believe, because of that increase in investment over the past two-and-a-half years relative to a very good price point, that we have plenty of room on price value,” Chapek said at an earnings call Wednesday.

Disney+ is also adding further content thanks to the acquisition of Fox studio, which will see R-rated movies like “Logan” and “Deadpool” hit the screens. It’s certainly a change of pace for both the service and company, both of which emphasize their family-friendly brand.

Chapek previously admitted it was a surprise to see how many adult-only households have a Disney+ subscription.

“We knew that we had interest in those general entertainment offerings, but didn’t really realize how important they could be towards our overall proposition, if you will.”

However, the price tick is also Disney attempting to compensate for the financial losses that continue to pile up. Direct-to-consumer operating income losses for the third quarter soared to $1.1 billion, up from $293 million a year ago.

Despite the subpar revenues and hits, Disney now ranks over main rival Netflix in terms of total subscribers across all their platforms by 400,000 with 221.1 million. Subscription tiers also remain lower than Netflix’s, which cost $9.99 for ad-supported streaming and $15.49 for HD, ad-free streaming.

comic con

San Diego Comic-Con Mandating Masks And Health Pass Screenings To Attend 

San Diego Comic-Con International (SDCC) has released their set of safety protocols for attendees as the world combats the sixth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

According to the set of health and safety protocols, all convention attendees must provide vaccine verification that proves they’ve received at least two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, or proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours. 

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Additionally, attendants must be wearing a mask the entire time they’re at the convention. Guidelines state that “face coverings should completely cover the nose and mouth, fit snugly against the side of the face, and not have any gaps.” 

The Los Angeles Times reported that as of Monday, “the California COVID Assessment Tool, published by the state Department of Public Health, said the spread of the coronavirus is likely increasing, with every infected Californian likely spreading it to 1.15 other people.”

“When you look at the [coronavirus] case counts, they’re no longer reliable. There are tremendous undercounts, and the number of cases now probably is not all that dissimilar to what we saw during the massive surge in December and January,” Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the UC San Francisco Department of Medicine, said. 

According to the SDCC’s FAQ page about attending the event, individuals can download the CLEAR app to easily upload their Covid-19 vaccine verification. 

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For unvaccinated individuals, SDCC says that “adults and children aged 5 and older who are not fully vaccinated, a recent negative COVID-19 test result must be obtained. All COVID-19 tests must be done by a certified lab, clinic, or physician. A negative test result must show the specimen was collected within 72 hours. Additionally, both PCR and antigen are acceptable as long as testing is conducted within the time frame.”

The website for SDCC also emphasizes that they will have health and safety protocol enforcers at the event to ensure that everyone in attendance is adhering to the guidelines that are implemented for everyone’s safety. 

During May’s Star Wars celebration in Anaheim, California, and June’s Anime Exposition in Los Angeles similar protocols were put in place, which allowed staff at SDCC to prepare for the convention itself and enforce the covid safety protocols. 

SDCC kicks off with preview night this Wednesday, July 20th, and ends Sunday July 24th.

godfather

‘The Godfather,’ ‘Misery’ Star James Caan Passes Away At 82

On Thursday, actor James Caan’s official twitter account reported that he passed away at the age of 82. “The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time,” the tweet said.

Born in the Bronx to Jewish-German immigrants, Caan’s roles have become some of the most memorable in cinema history, with his signature being the fiery Sonny Corleone, the son of Marlon Brando’s Vito Corleone, in the mafia epic “The Godfather.”

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That portrayal earned him nominations for best supporting actor at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes in 1972, while also thrusting him into stardom. From there, other notable performances would come in “Thief,” “The Gambler,” “Cinderella Liberty,” and “Funny Lady.”

Caan’s passing left many stars mourning, such as actress Kathy Bates, who played opposite Caan in “Misery.” Bates recalled the time spent together as “one of the most profound experiences of my career.” “When you watch his performance, his terror, it’s as though he’s watching a snake. Brilliant,” she said.

“So many memories are flooding back today. Jimmy saying, ‘Let’s get the most hyper guy in Hollywood and make him stay in bed for 15 weeks!’ We were so excited when we got to shoot in the dining room. He was kind. Hilarious.”

Al Pacino, who played Sonny’s brother Michael, also gave thoughts, calling Caan a “great actor, a brilliant director and my dear friend.” “It’s hard to believe that he won’t be in the world anymore because he was so alive and daring,” Pacino said.

Of course, while older generations embraced Caan’s gangster beginnings, today’s children might know Caan best as the workaholic, distant Walter Hobbs in “Elf.” Quite the departure from his more serious and dark roles, Caan helped to create a hilarious Christmas clash between him and his long-lost son, Buddy (Will Ferrell).

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Speaking with RollingStone in 2020, “Elf” director Jon Favreau discussed Caan’s transition to that particular role, noting him and Ferrell had some fun with Caan on set. “Will and I were kind of starstruck by him. But Will would bust his balls a lot, which was fun, too,” Favreau explained.

In order to help ease Caan’s demeanor, Favreau made sure to surround him with improvisors that would help to break tension. “The thing with Caan is, he’s got a great sense of humor. So if you could make him laugh, all the tension disappears.”

“We kept him laughing, and he kept us laughing. Eventually, something just clicked in Jimmy and he just went with it. He was a lot of fun.”

Of course, it was obvious Caan’s “Godfather” roots would never leave him. “We ended up hanging out a lot off-set. Whenever we’d go into an Italian restaurant, they’d put on ‘The Godfather’ soundtrack. Everywhere [Caan] goes, ‘The Godfather’ theme,” Favreau said.

Fans of Caan will be able to cherish him on the big screen for one last time, as his final movie, “Fast Charlie,” has finished production and is set to be released posthumously in 2023. In the film, Caan is set to play mob boss Stan.

Movies

‘Jurassic World Dominion’ Receives $245 Million At International Box Office 

Universal’s “Jurassic” franchise is once again proving why it’s become one of the most popular series since the 1990’s. “Jurassic World Dominion,” the sixth installment in the long-running series, received $176 million from 72 international markets over the weekend, bringing its international total to $245 million. 

When combined with its domestic earnings of $142 million, the film currently stands with $389 million and is likely to cross the $400 million threshold soon. 

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“Dominion” opened in 57 foreign markets this past weekend, including China, which has been increasingly hostile when it comes to showing Hollywood films. The movie received $52 million in China during its opening weekend. 

China has chosen to import a very select amount of movies since the beginning of the pandemic, so “Dominion” is already set to be the biggest non-local release in 2022. 

“Other top-grossing territories include the U.K. and Ireland with $15.4 million, France with $9.7 million, Australia with $8.5 million and Germany with $7.5 million,” according to Variety.

“Dominion” had a production budget of $185 million, and a promotion budget of $100 million. 

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Another movie that’s continuing the legacy of its original cinematic predecessor is “Top Gun: Maverick,” which earned itself nearly $747 million in international box office sales, passing the original “Top Gun’s” sales of $700 million. 

Within its third weekend of release, the blockbuster starring Tom Cruise earned itself $52.7 million from 64 international markets. According to Variety, “‘Maverick’ has raked up the most tickets in the U.K. ($63 million so far), followed by Japan ($33.9 million), Australia ($32.6 million) and France ($28.7 million).”

Worldwide box office revenue has been on a high as of late. Disney’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” earned itself $930 million in global ticket sales after last weekend, making it the highest grossing movie of the year.

This is an especially impressive feat as both China and Russia have decided not to show the newest Marvel movie and they account for a large portion of the international box office numbers.

Court

After Intense Court Feud, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Look To Rebuild Images And Lives

After weeks of intense court drama between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard that was the darling of social media, a decision by the Virginia jury has finally been reached: both stars were declared to be defamed, though Depp was award $15 million (which was capped to $10.4 million) in damages while Heard was awarded $2 million.

Plenty of claims were thrown around in the trial. Depp accused Heard of defecating on their bed, punching him in the face twice, and severing his finger with a vodka bottle, forcing it to be surgically reattached. Heard accused Depp of abuse — throwing objects, slamming her against the wall, and slapping her — and sexual assault back in 2015.

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Speaking to the Associated Press, crisis mitigator Eric Dezenhall explained that while Depp may not see the star-studded heights he once enjoyed in his acting prime, he still has the chance to maintain a solid career going forward.

“Depp has a hill to climb. Heard has a mountain to climb. If Depp keeps his expectations proportional and understands that he’s unlikely to hit his former heights, he can have a solid career if he takes things slowly. After all, he was vindicated in court, not declared a saint.”

It remains to be seen how Depp will proceed. Prior to the trial, amidst the abuse allegations, Disney cut ties with Depp, who had the leading role as Jack Sparrow for the majority of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. Similarly, Warner Brothers also cut Depp from his role as Gellert Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts.”

However, Depp could find himself back in Disney’s favor following the verdict. Talking to People, a former Disney executive expects Depp to return to his defining role. “There is just too much potential box-office treasure for a beloved character deeply embedded in the Disney culture.”

Jumping back into that iconic character for the most well-known mass media and entertainment conglomerate might not be “taking things slow,” but it would sure help Depp revitalize his career. Meanwhile, Heard finds herself in a much deeper hole.

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Heard didn’t suffer the losses Depp did before the trial, but it’s unknown whether she will be able to keep her role as Mera in “Aquaman 2.” Prior to the verdict, Heard’s screen time had reportedly been cut down to 10 minutes.

The diminished role was confirmed during the trial by DC president Walter Hamada, claiming the reduction was made in the early stages of the film due to Heard’s lack of chemistry with leading man Jason Momoa.

It’s clear the fans would rather Mera be recast. A petition for Warner Brothers to remove Heard from the movie, scheduled to release in March of next year, has reached 4.5 million signatures. Should it reach 6 million, it’ll become one of the top petitions on Change.org.

Worst yet for Heard is her current financial situation. Appearing on NBC’s “Today,” Heard’s attorney Elaine Bredehoft said that the actresses has no means of paying the $10.4 million owed to Depp due to legal fees and reported lavish spending. According to sources, Heard is relying on her homeowner’s insurance policy to cover the cost of her current attorneys.

Between that lack of financial uncertainty and the current image of Heard — which, to some, is one that has set the growing #MeToo movement back — it might be hard to see her gaining back good publicity and work anytime soon.

Marvel Disney

Marvel Studios Signs 20-Year Deal With Genius Brand To License “Stan Lee” For Future Media Use

While legendary comic book writer Stan Lee passed away in 2018, his name and image continue to live on — and are making a hefty paycheck while they do. POW! Entertainment has entered a 20-year agreement with Marvel Studios and Genius Brand that will let Marvel Studios use his name and likeness in future enterprises.

“We are proud to be the stewards of the incredibly valuable rights to Stan Lee’s name, likeness, merchandise, and intellectual property brand,” Genius Brand chairman and CEO Andy Heyward said in a press release.

“There is no better place than Marvel and Disney where Stan should be for his movies and theme park experiences. As we enter the centennial year of Stan’s birthday, December 28, 2022, we are thrilled to see his memory and legacy will continue to delight fans through this new long-term agreement with Marvel.”

Lee had previously run into conflict with POW! Entertainment, which he co-founded back in 2001. The production company was sued for $1 billion by Lee in 2018 for allegedly forging his signatures on legal documents. He later dropped the claim months before his passing.

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“As Stan’s longtime business partner and friend, I’m looking forward to commemorating his work in this new way,” POW! Entertainment president Gill Champion said. “Building a connection with his fans is important to us and it’s a privilege to get to do that on his behalf.”

With the deal, Marvel can now use Lee’s name, image, likeness, and signature in films and television projects, along with utilizing previously recorded footage and audio of Lee. The agreement also includes exclusive rights to use Lee’s name and likeness at Disney theme parks, cruises, and experiences, along with merchandise.

Lee, 92 at the time of his death, has long been celebrated for the creation of timeless Marvel super heroes like Spider-Man, Captain America, the X-Men, Iron Man, the Hulk, and the Fantastic Four, among hundreds of other characters. Lee — who would become Marvel’s editorial director and publisher in 1972 — is also known for his defiance of censorship and the Comics Code Authority, showing that creativity couldn’t be held down.

With today’s technology, it’s now more possible than ever to portray deceased actors in projects with the use of CGI. Disney hasn’t shown to shy away from such creative decisions, as “Star Wars: Rogue One” featured digitalized versions of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin and Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia.

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Still, it’s unknown whether Marvel Studios will continue to have Lee cameo in the MCU, which he did for each film in the $25 billion-earning franchise from 2008 to his death. The studio has done tributes of Lee in their projects since then, however. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Heyward stated that the audience’s feedback will play a large role in how they utilize him while protecting his legacy.

“The audience revered Stan, and if it’s done with taste and class, and respectful of who he was, [uses of his likeness] will be welcomed,” he said. “He is a beloved personality, and long after you and I are gone, he will remain the essence of Marvel.”

Cinema Movie Theater

How Cinemas Are Going Above And Beyond To Lure Moviegoers Back 

Compared to 2019, domestic movie ticket sales for the first four months of 2022 show a 44% decrease, however, cinemas are seeing a significant increase in ticket purchases when compared to last year. 

“Blockbuster titles like Warner Bros.′ ‘The Batman,’ Paramount’s ‘Sonic 2’ and the Marvel-Sony’s ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ have led to a 338% increase in ticket sales from 2021, reaching $1.95 billion,” according to data from Comscore.

Cinema operators were excited to hear all the new titles coming out this year, and were reassured by studios that they will continue to receive a large number of theatrical exclusives going forward. Operators were also told about the plans certain studios have for the future at CinemaCon last week. 

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The annual convention hosted at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas was seen as a major success after multiple studios expressed their excitement for showcasing a diversity of content in the coming year. 

Movie theater owners, however, have to be more individually creative in order to market their movies to citizens who are still hesitant about returning to the theater. Many theaters have offered exclusive food and drink deals, as well as flexibility regarding the content they show at the theater. 

For larger chains such as AMC, Regal, and Cinemark, live events like concerts, sports and gaming are being used to draw moviegoers back to the cinema. 

AMC announced that it would be investing $250 million into Cinionic’s laser projectors to be placed in 3,500 of its locations in the US by 2026. This technology offers brighter and crisper imaging, and makes it easier for the operators, as the bulbs don’t need to be replaced multiple times a year like more traditional projectors. 

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“We wanted to make a bold, straightforward statement to remind moviegoers of that immersive, communal, multi-sensory experience that you can only get by seeing a movie in a theater,” said Alicia Cook, director of advertising at AMC Theatres, during a CinemaCon panel.

Smaller chains with less access to large sums of money to invest in have gotten creative in creating a better theatrical experience for their audiences. 

“We are more nimble than the larger organizations. I think our superpower is eventizing but also creating those experiences around going to the movies. So, we do crazy stuff,” said Rich Daughtridge, president and CEO of Warehouse Cinemas.

Daughtridge said “promotions range from offering margaritas with movie tickets to special daddy-daughter date night showings. Mid-pandemic, we  capitalized on the release of Solstice Studio’s ‘Unhinged’ by hosting a car smash event during the film’s fifth week in theaters.”

“I think as marketers we tend to say ‘this movie is playing,’ ‘this movie is playing. I think from an engagement perspective, let’s talk a little bit more about why going to the movies is a good thing to do … I think the messaging that we are trying to do to create that engagement is more about why moviegoing makes sense versus just what movie is playing,” Daughtridge said.