Marcus CEO Says Strikes “Nothing Like” Covid Hit To Theaters: “Mom And Dad Are Fighting [But] Have To Live In The Same House”

Marcus Corp. CEO Greg Marcus insisted today that dual Hollywood strikes are nowhere near as threatening to exhibition as Covid was amid hand-wringing that a second massive hit to movie theaters is unfolding.

A handful of release dates have shifted with actors unable to promote films given the SAG-AFTRA strike. The impact is “difficult, if not impossible, to handicap,” he acknowledged during a call with Wall Streeters after quarterly earnings.

But, he said, “Here’s what this isn’t. This isn’t anyone questioning whether [people] want to go to the movie theater. This isn’t Hollywood saying they are shifting movies to streaming, and suggesting the future is day-and-date releases. This isn’t facilities closed and people afraid to be together.”

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“What this is, is a labor dispute. Does a business on the mend need this? No. But it doesn’t come close to what we went through.”

“This is not a demand problem, it is supply-chain disruption,” added the colorful CEO know for dancing on TikTok videos. “A disruption is not helpful [but] we believe it is a short-term dispute that will ultimately be resolved. Metaphorically speaking, mom and dad are fighting, but they have no choice but to live in the same house.” The massive success of Barbie and Oppenheimer has made him more optimistic than ever on the future of exhibition, and should do the same for studios and investors. He gave a shout-out to Sound of Freedom, which has been playing well in the the circuit’s largely midwestern markets.

Of course that all depends on how long the strikes last.

The WGA strike is approaching the 100-day mark. Actors went on strike in mid-July. Studios have asked to reopen talks with the WGA, which confirmed a meeting Friday to discuss negotiations.

The actors walkout has had the most immediate impact on the entertainment industry, including exhibition. Marcus, when asked, said he wasn’t sure what renewed WGA talks with the AMPTP might mean for SAG-AFTRA. “It’s above my pay grade. I just don’t know.”

Marcus Corp. business is split between Theatres and Hotels & Resorts. It saw movie theater revenue rise 5.7% to $137 million last quarter, driven by higher average ticket price (up 14%) and a bump in average concession revenues per person (over 7%) from the year earlier. Operating income jumped 20% to $19.8 million.

Marcus Theatres President Mark Gramz said the top performer was The Super Mario Bros. Movie – which was up against a tough comparison with Top Gun: Maverick the year-earlier — and said he was pleased to see more “quality mid-sized wide-release films across a variety of genres.” Obviously, the exhibitor is “off to a great start to the second half of the year thanks to the global phenomenon known as ‘Barbenheimer’.”

A new Value Tuesday promotion with $6 tickets for loyalty program members (currently at 5.5 million) and $7 for non-members helped boost sales. The Magical Movie Rewards program includes a 20% discount on all concessions.

The chain said top highest-performing films in the second quarter after The Super Mario Bros. Movie were Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3Spider-Man Across the Spider-VerseThe Little Mermaid and Fast X.

For the rest of 2023, it’s looking to Blue Beetle, Gran Turismo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, Strays, The Meg 2: The Trench, The Equalizer 3, The Nun II, The Expendables 4, Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie, Killers of the Flower Moon, Dune: Part Two, Trolls Band Together, Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Wish, Napoleon, Wonka, The Color Purple, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

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