- The National Association of Theater Owners warned that despite authorization for cinemas to reopen in certain states, many will not feasibly be able to. In Georgia, theaters can reopen as early as Monday, but local owners have refused and are simply not prepared to.
- Many theaters still need time to reassess finances, rehire staff, ramp-up cleaning measures, and rethink seating arrangements to maintain social distancing.
- New film releases are also still several weeks away and theaters aren’t likely to release those projects if they can’t fill seats.
- Morning Consult survey found that a third of U.S. adults say they won’t be comfortable going to out of home entertainment for another 3-6 months.
Theater Owners Warn Against Reopening Too Soon
While some states are moving to reopen businesses, The National Association of Theatre Owners warned Wednesday that most cinemas won’t be opening right away, even if they’re legally permitted to do so.
“Until the majority of markets in the U.S. are open, and major markets in particular, new wide release movies are unlikely to be available,” the group said in a statement. “As a result, some theaters in some areas that are authorized to open may be able economically to reopen with repertory product; however, many theaters will not be able to feasibly open.”
The statement from theater owners came in response to news that a handful of Southern states are teaming up to lift some restrictions currently in place amid the coronavirus pandemic. This includes places like Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who has approved the broadest rollback of orders in a state so far, plans to reopen restaurants and movie theaters as early as Monday. Businesses like gyms, bowling alleys, and hair salons, are permitting to reopen in the state Friday.
Kemp’s decision was met with backlash from local mayors who are urging people to continue to stay home and business owners who have vowed to remain closed. It even faced criticism from celebrities like rapper Cardi B, who urged fans to prioritize “HEALTH OVER CAPITALISM!”
On Tuesday, President Trump also expressed concerns about Kemp’s plans, telling reporters, “I told the governor of Georgia Brian Kemp that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase one guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia.”
Still, the president said he wants Kemp to “do what he thinks is right” but warned that if he sees “something totally egregious,” he will step in. The President’s remarks came as a surprise to some given the support he’s shown protestors in other states pushing to reopen their local economies.
Why Theaters Cant Reopen Quickly
According to Deadline, big chains like AMC, Regal, and Cinemark, confirmed that they won’t be opening up anytime soon. AMC is reportedly eyeing early June openings, Cinemark is considering early July, and Regal hasn’t officially landed on a date yet.
So then you’re probably wondering: what theaters are reopening in Georgia? Well, it will likely only be drive-ins and independent theater owners who own their own properties. For many exhibitors who have abatements in their rental leases, it’s just not in their best financial interest to reopen if there isn’t a new supply of products from major studios.
And studios won’t want to release their newest projects if they can’t fill seats. As of now, there aren’t any new movie releases slated until mid-June, when films like The King of Staten Island and Fatale are set to drop. Even more people have their eyes on films dropping in July, like Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and Disney’s Mulan.
Some indie studios have already said they won’t allow their films to be exhibited in Georgia theaters that open next week. “We will not be participating in that,” said Tom Quinn, CEO of Neon, the distributor of Oscar-winner “Parasite” and “I, Tonya.”
“I hope people do the sensible thing and self-isolate,” he continued.
Chris Escobar, the owner of the Plaza Theater in Atlanta, told Variety, “You have to have movies to show.”
“Second, you have to have people willing to come in,” he added before stressing that there was no reassurance from public health authorities that it is safe to reopen. “I don’t want to be that movie theater, where the outbreak in Atlanta is all related to the f–king Plaza Theatre,” he said. “I don’t think anybody does.”
Reopening theaters also isn’t something that can just be done quickly since it means theaters will have to reassess their workforce and finances.
“We are not going to open on Monday, and we don’t have any plans as to when we would,” Brandt Gully, the owner of The Springs Cinema & Taphouse near Atlanta said to Variety. “Even if we wanted to, we wouldn’t be ready. It just doesn’t feel socially responsible to me to go out there to try to grab a few bucks.”
Theaters have been closed since about mid-March, so reopening means they’ll need to rehire or find new staff. However, at this time it’s really unclear how many workers are needed and what the demand for movies will be like.
According to a Morning Consult survey, about a third of U.S. adults say they won’t be comfortable going to out of home entertainment for another 3-6 months, and about a quarter say they wouldn’t go for at least another six months.
On top of that, theaters will also have to rethink ticket practices, additional cleaning measures, and seating arrangements to maintain social distancing.
For some theater owners, reopening right now just doesn’t feel like the right move. “No one is demanding this,” Escobar told Variety. “Even the people saying, ‘I need a haircut,’ they’re not saying, ‘I need to go see a movie.’”
Though theaters can reopen in Georgia soon, film productions are still on hold as of now. Marvel movies, show like “The Walking Dead,” and hundreds of other projects are filmed in Georgia thanks to the state’s generous 30% tax credit.
But in a statement provided to Variety, the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office said the state was “cautiously working on plans” for a return to normal operations, which could include a testing system.
“We will continue to work with studios to make decisions based on what is best for public health and the safety of our terrific crews here, not what is happening in other states,” Lee Thomas, the director of the state film office, said.
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Hollywood Reporter) (Variety)
The Try Guys Address Removal of Ned Fulmer: “We Had No Idea This Was Going On”
The group said that by severing ties with Fulmer, it felt like they were losing a friend.
“That Is Not What We Stand For”
Digital comedy and sketch group The Try Guys posted a video on Monday night explaining the recent removal of member Ned Fulmer.
Last week, the Internet was filled with speculation that Fulmer, who is married with children, was having an affair with a staffer for The Try Guys. Fulmer confirmed the reports, claiming he had a “consensual workplace relationship.” The Try Guys quickly announced that Fulmer would no longer be working with the group as the result of an internal review.
In Monday’s video, the remaining three members, Eugene Lee Yang, Zach Kornfeld, and Keith Habersberger, explained what led to their decision to remove Fulmer. While the trio noted there were legal issues that prevented them from sharing certain details, they wanted to be as transparent as possible.
“On Labor Day weekend, multiple fans alerted us that they had seen Ned and an employee engaging in public romantic behavior,” Habersberger explained. “We reached out to check on that employee and Ned confirmed the reports, and since confirmed that this had been going on for some time, which was obviously very shocking to us.”
He emphasized that the rest of the group “had no idea this was going on.”
After this, The Try Guys reached out to a variety of lawyers and HR professionals to make sure they handled the situation correctly.
“This is something we took very seriously,” Yang said. “We refused to sweep things under the rug. That is not who we are, and that is not what we stand for.”
Removing Fulmer From Content
They decided to immediately remove Fulmer from work activities and hired an HR rep to conduct a review. Fulmer was also withdrawn from releases pending the results of that review.
As part of this, his video section was erased, he was digitally taken out of some content, and he was not included in merch drops. The Try Guys said this was a long and tedious process.
“Honestly, I want to give major props to our editing staff for how deftly they handled that,” Kornfeld said. “There are several videos that we have deemed as fully unreleasable, you will never see them, and that is due to his involvement. And that is a decision that has cost us lots of money.”
“We will not be able to recoup that money,” he continued. “But it’s a decision we stand by proudly.”
The group declined to share details of the review but claimed it found that Fulmer engaged in “conduct unbecoming” of the team. Because of this, Yang, Kornfeld, and Habersberger gave written consent on Sept. 16 to ax Fulmer as a manager and employee of The Try Guys company.
The three said they were always planning to make a public statement about their decision, but were initially waiting out of respect to the families and employees involved. As online speculation arose, they chose to deal with it sooner.
“We’re losing a friend, we’re losing someone we built a company with, we have countless memories with, we just made a TV show together,” Kornfeld said. “I’m sure many of you feel the same way.”
According to the group, some upcoming videos featuring Fulmer will be edited to remove him. They said they are currently taking time to reimagine their channel.
Bruce Willis Denies Rumors He Sold His Likeness For Deepfake Use
Deepfakes face criticism from Hollywood to social media.
Willis Debunks Rumors
Actor Bruce Willis denied rumors over the weekend that he sold his likeness to the deepfake company DeepCake.
Willis agreed last year for his face to be used in a commercial for a Russian telecoms company. For this commercial, DeepCake digitally edited Willis’ face onto a Russian actor. This sparked rumors that Willis had sold the rights to his likeness for the company to use in future projects.
However, both management for Willis and DeepCake itself denied any partnership or agreement for these rights.
“Bruce couldn’t sell anyone any rights, they are his by default,” DeepCake said.
Agreements for the AI generation of actors have been heard of before, however. Recently, actor James Earl Jones agreed for his voice to be technologically generated for the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise.
This comes as deepfakes are facing mounting criticism online, including from prominent YouTube personality and author, Hank Green. He recently tweeted about a channel that uses similar deepfake technology and AI-voice generation to parody popular YouTube creators. He stressed his concern that while the channel in question may not be nefarious, this technology could end up being harmful.
“There are ways to do this that would be much worse, more mean spirited, and more exploitative than this,” Green said. “And I’m very worried about what that will look like, because if this is working (and allowed), people will do it.”
Among other issues, Green mentioned these videos could abuse monetization and sponsorship opportunities while exploiting someone else’s face and brand. Green even implored YouTube to evaluate its terms of service as the popularity of deepfakes rise.
See what others are saying: (BBC) (Mashable) (The Telegraph)
Twitch Faces Backlash After Booking Megan Thee Stallion At TwitchCon Amid Creator Pay Cuts
The cut in revenue share has ignited severe backlash on Twitch, where users argue pay for creators should be increased, not slashed.
Revenue Share Shake Up
Twitch users are criticizing the company for hiring artist Megan Thee Stallion to perform at TwitchCon just one week after announcing cutbacks to top creator pay.
Last week, the video and streaming platform said that starting in June of next year, some creators will receive less revenue from their subscriptions. While the standard split for subscription revenue is 50/50, some major streamers previously received a more favorable 70/30 share in premium agreement terms.
Many creators have long argued that everyone should get that 70/30 share, but Twitch took a step in the opposite direction. In the future, streamers with premium terms will only get the 70/30 slice for their first $100,000 from subscription revenue. After that, they will get bumped down to the regular 50/50 cut.
The company argued the move was necessary as the premium terms previously lacked transparency and consistency, insisting it tried to modify the policy in a way that impacted the least amount of creators. According to Twitch’s statement, 90% of streamers on standard agreements will not even be impacted by the change.
Still, this move outraged Twitch users who were furious the company was not investing more in the creators that bring so many viewers to its platform. Those frustrations were exacerbated on Wednesday when the company announced Megan Thee Stallion would make an appearance at TwitchCon, a weekend-long event set to take place in San Diego in early October.
Backlash Continues to Mount
While no details of Megan Thee Stallion’s agreement to perform have been disclosed, one can assume she charges a pretty penny to book at an event of this nature. Critics argued that if Twitch is willing to spend money on her, it should be willing to spend it on its own streamers.
“So Twitch can’t afford to pay their creators 70/30, can’t fix their media player that crashes after each ad, can’t enforce their policies so people aren’t doing inappropriate things on stream, but they can afford paying celebrities to promote their streaming site?” one person wrote.
“It’s weird that a company that just announced a bunch of budget cuts due to infrastructure costs goes out and grabs an A-list musician instead of promoting their own musicians that run on their platform,” another person claimed.
“Instead of giving your creators a cut they deserve when they do so much work, this is what you do…?” one user asked. “Maybe give your creators a better deal instead of wasting their hard earned money on things we don’t even want.”
Twitch has not responded to the outrage, but Megan Thee Stallion was not the only music act the Amazon-owned service booked for the event. Kim Petras and Meet Me at the Altar will also take the stage at TwitchCon.
The backlash comes as concerns have been mounting against Twitch for a plethora of reasons including creator pay, gambling streams, and more.
In recent months, some of the platform’s biggest names have left Twitch in favor of rival services like YouTube Gaming.