- Cineworld will be closing all of its 536 Regal cinemas in the U.S. and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse locations in the U.K. after Thursday, October 8.
- This follows news that the James Bond flick, “No Time to Die” has been pushed back from November to April 2021, making it the latest of several blockbusters to depart from a fall release.
- As studios push their films back in hopes of releasing them at a more profitable time, theaters are put in a tricky place because they have nothing new to lure in crowds. Some argue that studios should just release their movies now and take the hit to save theaters.
- Others think local governments, namely New York’s, should be more open to reopening theaters so the industry can be saved.
Cineworld Closes Locations
Cineworld announced early Monday that it will be closing its 536 Regal cinemas in the United States and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse venues across the United Kingdom after Thursday, October 8.
The movie theater giant, which is the second-largest behind AMC, has no reopening date in sight. The decision to suspend operations will impact 40,000 jobs in the U.S. and another 5,500 in the U.K. The company’s stocks dropped over 50% after markets opened on Monday morning.
“This is not a decision we made lightly,” the company said in a statement. “We did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable re-openings of our cinemas and we are so very grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our cinemas to the new protocols. We cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was.”
“As we have done to date, we will do everything we can to save livelihoods and the Company – this is an extremely delicate and tricky balance.”
The announcement comes as the release date for the latest James Bond picture, “No Time to Die,” was delayed yet again, this time from November to April 2021. It is the latest fall movie to get pushed back, following “Black Widow,” which will now come out in 2021, and “Wonder Woman 1984,” which is currently slated for a Christmas premiere. As more and more blockbusters get pushed back, theaters find themselves lacking the content they need to bring audiences in.
“We are like a grocery shop that doesn’t have vegetables, fruit, meat,” Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger told the Wall Street Journal. “We cannot operate for a long time without a product.”
It is unclear if AMC will follow suit and close any of its locations as the well of new films runs dry. Its stock also dropped with Cineworld’s, going down about 10% on Monday morning.
Studios Delay Major Movies
Theaters are banking on studios to release blockbusters in order for them to survive, but studios find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. They have two options in front of them. They can release their pictures now to help theaters stay open, but they won’t make the kind of box office revenue that they would hope for out of big-budget movies like James Bond. Their other option is to continue to postpone releases, which means that both studios and theaters take a huge hit right now, but can hopefully see a bigger check in the future.
Unsurprisingly, for the most part, studios have been choosing the path that could potentially lead to more money. Waiting to release movies is increasingly looking like the better option as Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” has underperformed at the domestic box office so far. While it has raked in a decent amount internationally, it’s smaller U.S. haul has scared other studios away from releasing their major projects too soon.
But because theaters need more movies if they want to survive the pandemic, many believe theaters need to move forward and release new movies anyways.
“While we can understand the studios’ desire to hold releases until the release environment is perfect, we also believe studios must be willing to take a hit to feed the industry and keep the exhibitor group from completely falling apart,” analyst Eric Wold said in a report.
New York Restrictions
However, studios are not the only barrier blocking theaters from getting people in their seats. In fact, John Fithian, prescient and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, believes that its local governments that are most in the way because it is their limiting restrictions that are stopping studios from releasing movies. Two of the largest markets in the United States, Los Angeles and New York, are not open yet. Because theaters in other parts of California are already open, and Los Angeles could see reopenings soon, Fithian believes that the fault largely relies on New York, which has no reopening plans on the horizon for its movie theaters.
“The failure of Gov. Cuomo to allow movie theaters to reopen anywhere in his state was a principal, if not exclusive, cause of the Bond move. If New York remains closed to theater operations, other movies scheduled for 2020 will move as well,” he said in an interview with Variety. “And I just don’t understand it. I know the governor has done a fantastic job combatting the virus. I know he’s got some increases of infections in some limited areas in the state.
“But restaurants in New York are open, gyms are open, churches are open, indoor dining is being offered,” he added. “Our recommendation, our urgent plea, is for Gov. Cuomo to allow movie theaters to reopen in the portions of the state that aren’t having spikes in the virus.”
Fithian believes that New York’s box office is so critical that movies that have already been pushed to 2021 could actually come back to their 2020 dates if New York decides theaters can open their doors. He also believes this would be a safe decision because epidemiologists who have been asked to study potential links between virus outbreaks and movie theaters have not yet found one.
Though, for his part, back in August, Cuomo explained that he did not think it would be necessary or practical for the state to start pushing ahead when it comes to movie theaters.
“On a relative risk scale, a movie theater is less essential and poses a high risk,” he said during a coronavirus briefing. “It is congregant. It is one ventilation system. You are seated there for a long period of time.”
Since the industry has faced so many obstacles because of the pandemic, many are advocating for the government to financially assist theaters so they can stay up and running. At the end of September, major directors like Judd Apatow, James Cameron, Greta Gerwig, Christopher Nolan, Jordan Peele, Wes Anderson, Clint Eastwood, and Ang Lee all signed a letter urging Congress to provide needed support.
“Absent a solution designed for their circumstances, theaters may not survive the impact of the pandemic,” the letters said. “Cinemas are an essential industry that represent the best that American talent and creativity have to offer. But now we fear for their future.”
See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (Variety) (Hollywood Reporter)
Netflix Reinstates Employee Who Crashed Director-Level Meeting After Criticizing Dave Chapelle
Terra Field had publicly accused Chappelle of making transphobic remarks in his new stand-up special “The Closer” just days before she was suspended.
Netflix Reinstates Terra Field
Netflix reinstated a transgender employee who was critical of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special after suspending her for attending a director-level meeting without an invitation.
Terra Field tweeted on Tuesday that she was reinstated once the company determined “there was no ill-intent in” her decision to attend the meeting.
“I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at,” she added. “At the very least, I feel vindicated.”
Field also shared an email Netflix sent her regarding her suspension being lifted.
“Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to this meeting,” the email said. “Additionally, when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.”
Field’s suspension came just days after she tweeted a viral thread criticizing Chappelle’s latest program on Netflix, “The Closer.” She was one of many activists who claimed Chappelle’s set was transphobic and encouraged Netflix to take action. Field wrote that his comments attacked “the very validity of transness.” Netflix insisted those tweets had nothing to do with her suspension.
Field reportedly attended the director-level meeting with two other employees who were also suspended. A spokesperson for Netflix told Deadline that those two staffers have likewise been reinstated and the company “will be distributing broader guidance about meetings and clarifying which are for which people.”
Netflix’s Response to Dave Chappelle Controversy
Netflix, for its part, has defended Chappelle and rejected calls to remove “The Closer” from the streaming service.
“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Srandos wrote in an internal memo. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
“We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line,” he added. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Among other things, Chappelle took time in his special to defend author J.K. Rowling, who previously faced backlash over a series of transphobic remarks she made. Chappelle said he agreed with Rowling.
“I’m team TERF,” he added. “I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”
Chappelle went on to make jokes about Caitlyn Jenner before comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
Many employees at Netflix are still frustrated with the way the platform has handled the controversy surrounding “The Closer.” According to The Verge, a trans employee resource group is planning a walkout on Oct. 20.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter,” the group said in a memo. “And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Deadline) (The New York Times)
Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch May Have Abandoned Plans To Participate In TikTok NFT Program
Lil Nas X’s TikTok NFT was scheduled to debut a week ago and is still not available to the public.
Creators Allegedly Leave TikTok’s NFT Program
Musicians Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch may have quietly exited TikTok’s new NFT collection, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
TikTok first announced the line, which is called “TikTok Top Moments,” at the end of September. It involves a series of creator-led NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique and tradeable digital assets. TikTok’s NFTs can be purchased with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. According to a press release, the money will “largely go directly to the creators and NFT artists involved.”
TikTok said that creators like Poarch, Lil Nas X, Grimes, Curtis Roach, Brittany Broski, and more would be participating in the program. The company called NFTs an “empowerment tool” that will allow these creators to “be recognized and rewarded for their content.” It planned to debut the collection on Oct. 6 with Lil Nas X’s NFT, but that token has still not been made available. A source told Rolling Stone that it may never be released.
NFT Rollout Described as “A Mess”
The outlet also reported that Poarch is “actively contemplating pulling out of the program due to worries about its execution.” According to Rolling Stone, three sources familiar with the rollout of the program have described it as “a challenge,” “a mess,” and “a complete joke.”
Those sources claimed that in order to secure Poarch’s initial participation, TikTok offered her marketing support worth potentially $4 million for her next release. The company also allegedly promised to use one of her songs in an end-of-year campaign. A spokesperson for TikTok, however, described these claims as “not accurate.”
Neither Poarch nor Lil Nas X has commented on their participation yet. Meanwhile, TikTok declined to answer Rolling Stone’s questions about the status of their NFTs.
Some of TikTok’s announced NFTs have gone public, though. Throughout Tuesday, Roach’s “Bored in the House” video was up for auction on the platform Immutable.
NFTs took the internet by storm in early 2021, but their popularity peaked in May and declined throughout the summer. Celebrities, tech moguls, and everyday people featured in viral memes have hopped on the trend and made millions doing so.
According to Rolling Stone, TikTok has valued some of its own NFTs at $1 million. Now, it’s unclear if those tokens will ever hit the market.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Dexerto)
Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, and Others Honor World Mental Health Day
A slew of stars acknowledged the day by sharing personal stories and making hefty donations to organizations that offer mental health resources.
Celebrities Donate to Mental Health Organizations
Major celebrities honored World Mental Health Day on Sunday by speaking candidly about their mental health struggles and donating to nonprofits.
Singer Ariana Grande announced that she is donating $5 million worth of free therapy through the online counseling platform Better Help. The star previously partnered with the company over the summer to give $1 million in therapy to fans and opted to throw more money at the program following its success.
“I acknowledge that there are very real barriers when it comes to accessing mental health resources, and while this is only one small gesture (and a much larger systemic problem remains) I wanted to do this again with @betterhelp in hopes of bringing access to a few more people and perhaps inspiring a few of you to try something new and prioritize your own healing,” Grande wrote on Instagram.
Those interested can sign up for a free first month of Better Help and get an additional 15% off the second month.
Model Bella Hadid also pledged to donate to mental health resources. She teamed up with the beverage company Kin Euphorics, which will donate 10% of its October sales to Gurls Talk, a nonprofit that gives adolescent girls a space to talk about mental health, along with various educational tools to aid those discussions. Hadid will match those donations.
“Dealing with mental illness for most of my life, bringing awareness to the education of mental health through my platform is something that I will continue to do until our mental is just as respected as our physical,” Hadid wrote. “I want everyone who struggles daily to know that you are not alone.”
Stars Share Resources and Personal Stories
Meanwhile, actress and singer Selena Gomez used her new makeup brand Rare Beauty to share statistics about the prevalence of mental illness and the efforts to combat it. The company, which has previously focused on several mental health initiatives, shared that just 1.3% of philanthropic investments go towards supporting mental health.
The company additionally cited information from an American Psychological Association report, which revealed that young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health struggles. It found that seven out of 10 Gen Z adults are more likely to report experiencing depression symptoms compared to other generations.
Gomez shared Rare Beauty’s post to her own story as well.
Singer Olivia Rodrigo similarly opened up about mental health and therapy during an interview with CBS that aired Sunday. In it, she said she has been in therapy since she was 16, which she believes has helped her both personally and professionally.
“That was a really big, life-changing moment,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself.”
“I think there’s sometimes a stigma around it, too, like I was saying,” the singer continued. “Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, you don’t need that. You have so much. Your life is so great. What are your problems?’ I think that’s definitely a thing that sometimes older people can do to younger people to kind of trivialize what they’re going through.”