A Century in Exhibition—The 1980s: Megabucks, MTV, and Megaplexes - Boxoffice

tagsDormitory Bunk Beds Metal

Boxoffice Pro

Scroll Magazine

box office

The experimental revolution that swept through the 1960s and 1970s was almost dead, buried in the 1980s. Summarizing the new decade, Peter Biskind

Wrote: "Before the Ronald Reagan tsunami swept through everything, the market replaced Mao Zedong,


, And supply-side economics replaced the power of the people. "The corporatization of Reagan America and the return to conservatism made Hollywood not interested in small, realistic, director-led films. Instead, it was all incorporated into megabuck films produced by large companies and displayed in the form of blockbuster films. 

Ride the wind and waves


In the past ten years, Hollywood in the 1980s turned all its energy to producing expensive science fiction, action and horror movies, such as


It has taught this industry not only the power of expensive special effects, but also the power of large-scale marketing activities. The soaring marketing budget greatly encouraged movie prices in the 1980s. MPAA President Jack Valenti revealed in November 1980 that in that year, the average film produced by the major film companies that make up the MPAA cost $10 million in advertisements and prints, which was a 1975 figure. Twice. Prints and advertising increased by another $6 million. According to Valenti, a film studio needs to reach a box office of $40 million in order to break even. 

In order to ensure the greatest return, Hollywood high-concept blockbusters are becoming more and more homogeneous. Unlike the popularity of lesser-known actors and even non-actors in the 60s and 70s, film studios increasingly rely on a handful of very popular actors whose star factor is enough to make people appear in the box office.

It even started publishing a list of "box office attractiveness" based on monthly surveys, which included the most popular stars and the most promising new actors. The studio also invested heavily in the sequel to minimize risks. Associate editor Jimmy Summers (Jimmy Summers) was quite ironic about the trend of the summer of 1983, when



Hit the screen. He wrote: "The summer of the sequel seems to be the season when the actors do exactly what the public wants them to do."

Higher production and sales costs proved to be a problem for exhibitors, who were sometimes forced to increase ticket prices to $6 or $7, which was twice the price in the 1970s. Between 1979 and 1980, the average ticket price was $2.69, and the MPAA reported that the average ticket price increased by 6.9%. Exhibitors found themselves stuck between higher printing costs, greater studio profits, and worry about losing customers.

Editor Alexander Auerbach took over from the magazine’s founder Ben Shlyen in 1979. He urged the entire industry to control costs and pointed out the studio’s hypocrisy in an editorial published in June 1982. . How do they recommend that a movie priced below US$10 million be used for online distribution at a price of US$3 million or less? "He wants to know. 

Financial changes in the 1980s made it increasingly difficult for small studios and exhibitors to survive. Instead, vertically integrated media groups have the ability to fund and distribute films for these films, thus ushering in the era of large corporate entertainment. The acquisition of studios by non-media groups began in the 1960s, but the 1980s was an era of unprecedented cross-ownership of media, vertical integration, and deregulation of financial instruments such as equity, shareholder value and other financial assets in an unprecedented period.

In 1982, Coca-Cola, the theater’s long-term partner, acquired Columbia Pictures for $750 million and entered the industry. This is the first time a large conglomerate has acquired a major Hollywood studio in Hollywood since Kinney National Services acquired Warner Bros. (Warner Bros.). SevenArts, Gulf & Western acquired Paramount, and Transamerica took control of UA in the late 1960s. In 1983, Colombia, HBO and CBS joined forces to create Tri-Star (later known as TriStar), a new studio that will produce movies for theater exhibitions and cable television. A year later, the three-star company acquired the Loews theater chain, raising antitrust concerns about potential violations of the Paramount Act. In 1987, the Japanese electronics giant Sony entered the drama distribution market to create AIP Distribution to increase its video sales. Two years later, in September 1989, the American company Sony acquired Columbia Pictures and Tri-Star from Coca-Cola and renamed them Sony Pictures Entertainment. 

Sony’s acquisition opened the way for foreign studio ownership and increased US concerns about "foreign invasion." The Australian Qintex Group acquired MGM/UA as early as 1989, surpassing the bid of Australian publisher Rupert Murdoch, who acquired a 50% stake in 20th Century Fox in 1985. It is now the only company that controls movie content, distribution channels, and the hardware (VCR, laser disc, etc.) that people watch movies at home. 

Despite the most important laws, the exhibition has not been able to shake off the trend of mergers and acquisitions. Sony owns a long-established chain of Loews (Loews), which was renamed Sony Cinemas before changing back to its original name. Warner Communications and Gulf and Western Corporation established the Cineamerica Theatre, a corporate entity that took over the Gulf and Western Corporation’s Mann Theater, Festival Enterprise and Trans-Lux tours. Eventually, Universal’s parent company MCA purchased 49% of Cineplex Odeon in 1986. 

Although most acquisitions are not the subject of reviews by the editorial team,

The new editor Harley W. Lond (who took over in 1984 and underwent major reforms to focus more on "important analysis and interpretation" rather than direct news), expressed this trend regret. He wrote in an editorial in August 1989: “The cluster fever in our industry has now shifted from acquiring exhibition shops to acquiring production shops. This does not bode well for us. Just recently, George Lucas ( George Lucas) complained about such indiscretionary corporate takeover actions, saying that such actions “damage the creativity of the entertainment industry” by establishing heavily indebted companies, thus occupying resources that should be used for new film adventures, filmmakers and new filmmakers. idea."

The survival of small independent theaters struggling to survive is threatened.

Specially make a lot of space for independent distributors and exhibitors, and regularly publish strategic columns and information on distributors and cinemas. Some independent developers have successfully developed, the most famous is New Line Cinema

And Miramax

As well as exhibitors such as Carmike Cinema, Pacific Theater and Laemmle Chain Store. But as Dan Hudgens, president of the Harkins Theater in Arizona, said in December 1987, independents are still "faced with extinction" due to the acquisition of corporate groups. Independent exhibitors are at the forefront of anti-integration and often promote solutions through NATO. In fact,

According to reports, in August 1987, Dan Harkins and other exhibitors from Texas and Indiana appeared before the New York District Court to prevent three-star companies from booking their films to Loews Cinemas. right. Despite all efforts, the court approved the three-star company's request. 

Vertical concentration was not the only challenge facing the exhibition industry in the 1980s. In March 1981, editor Alexander Auerbach summarized the threat of home entertainment. "Exhibitions and studios used to worry about the emergence of television, but now they are thinking about the impact of cable TV, pay TV, video discs and video tapes, direct broadcasting from satellites to homes, and other technological advances. He said: "All these new devices can be watched. Operation is an opportunity or a threat, but in either case, it cannot be ignored. "Since the advent of television in the 1950s, cinemas have been competing for the scarce time, attention and money of moviegoers, and now there are seemingly endless home substitute bounties. 

A major threat to home entertainment is the rapid improvement in the quality of home TV screens and surround systems. As readers of this column may remember, in response to the large format competition of the 1950s, Tony Francis, President of International Drama Products

The contributor, lamented in May 1981 that "pictures only provide size". He worried that although the quality of TV images is not as good as movies, they will soon surpass movies. Francis urged exhibitors to prepare for the competition and reminded readers that in 1981, only 15% of American theaters provided stereo sound, and consumers are increasingly liking this kind of sound. Therefore, people want to use the radio at home, Voice recorder, and headphones. In September of that year, Ioan Allen, vice president of marketing at Dolby, warned

Compared with home appliances, as many as 90% of theaters are inferior in terms of sound and/or projection. The innovation of HDTV technology makes the threat even more imminent. Interestingly, Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope Studios actually participated in the HDTV demonstration because he believed that the next logic was to distribute the tape movie on the satellite to the theater. 

The video tape boom is another challenge for exhibitors, especially after the mid-1980s. Sony's Betamax and JVC's VHS were launched in the US market in the 1970s, and they occupy the leading position in the cassette and video cassette recorder industry in fierce competition.

In 1985, the Consumer Electronics Group of the American Electronics Industry Association released a study that showed that VCR sales increased by more than 72% year-on-year. Prior to this, the Supreme Court issued a Sony Betamax judgment in March 1984, which ruled that the practice of home video tape does not violate copyright law. Took unprecedented steps

Since 1985, through its "Boxoffice Video Supplement", its coverage has been expanded to video, so that exhibitors can understand the trend and potential uses of this new format. Soon, the sales of cassette tapes and VCRs surpassed the domestic box office. According to the report of the 1987 video tape supplement, the sales revenue of video cassettes increased by 30% compared with 1986, reaching 7.46 billion U.S. dollars, almost twice the total box office of 4.2 billion U.S. dollars in the same year.

In addition to improving the quality of home entertainment and the power of VCRs, the 1980s also witnessed the explosive growth of cable television. It is no coincidence that all major media and exhibiting corporate groups are scrambling to acquire premium channels. For example, in 1983, MCA, Paramount, and Warner agreed to become partners to purchase Movie Channel, a satellite-delivered movie pay-TV service that had more than 2 million subscribers at the time. Four years later, the late National Entertainment Company owner Sumner Redstone (Sumner Redstone) ran 400 movie centers and thus had a controlling stake in Viacom, which owns MTV and Showtime . For exhibitors, the danger is not just a brutal competition for the audience. As Perry Lowe, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Franchisees Association, explained in an article published in 1981, due to inflation and different industry cost structures, “theatre owners raise prices faster than cable TV operators must be fast, and the result will be a wider gap between the value of watching movies at home on cable TV and going to the cinema."

Overall, exhibitors’ response to these new threats is not as anxious as they have been in the past few decades. Despite countless doom and failure predictions in the past, the exhibition still survived. A lot this time

Writers and copywriters quickly pointed out how the auxiliary market can incentivize film production and bring new opportunities for return. Jack Valenti pointed out in 1982 that although about 40% of TV households are equipped with cable TV, 18 million have subscribed to pay TV or cable movie channels, and 4 million video recorders are operating in the country. In the living room, this year is still the highest record ever. -High box office record. He believes that the reason behind it is simple: people who love movies like them in every medium. 

Industry experts reassure exhibitors by highlighting the positive promotional opportunities offered by pay TV and cable TV. One such example is "Movieweek", which is a one-and-a-half hour program on the MSN Information Channel, using a model similar to MTV to bring movie marketing (including trailers and interviews) to thousands of homes. Video is also used as a medium to attract viewers who don't watch movies at all. Dan Harkins explained in October 1985: "Home video tape is actually a blessing to exhibitors because it is used by people who are not involved in Hollywood film production." A businessman went further in an article in 1981: "[Exhibitors have the knowledge that there is no other merchant group in the country. They know the movies and how to sell them. Therefore, they are the most prepared to become video tape and CD retailers. A good team.” Auerbach agreed in an editorial in 1984, “The rental business is a bit different from the usual snack bar activities, but it is hardly a huge challenge for the theater staff.” In fact, the magazine. Some of the small theaters introduced, such as the Fred Kesbill Theater in Ogallara, Nebraska, or the Country Theater in Knoxville, Iowa, have turned to video sales.

Exhibitors are also concerned about the theater's exclusive rights window. The discussion about windows can be traced back to the birth of television, but the 1980s was the decade when the issue was more common in the magazine’s coverage. The editing line is clear. In November 1980, Auerbach wrote after New Orleans held an informal NATO convention on this subject: “The exhibition must fight to maintain its status as the first sales channel for Hollywood products.” Auerbach paid special attention. The shrinking window between theater releases and cassette tape releases, noting that some videotapes were released while the movie was still showing in theaters. This applies not only to smaller movies, but also to larger box offices

, Can be used on tape six months after the first release.

"What has the unwritten rule of the one-year period for the transfer from film to video tape (now six months on the surface, but four months or less in reality) become?" asked the editor Harley in December 1984 W. Lund (Harley W. Lond). He pointed out that the issuer has benefited from word of mouth about theatrical distribution and is eager to further shorten the window. The theater that followed was the hardest hit. Auerbach wrote in May 1984, "A reasonable "window" between theaters and tape distribution can at least help the first theaters, although the theaters where small films are shown are still very hard to beat." George Kerasotes, President of Kerasotes Theatres Agreeing with this, he announced in 1981: "I don’t think there will be any more theaters in the future, because nearby theaters will show pictures for a long time, because the market is rapidly being absorbed through cable crews, cassette tapes, disks, whatever Something appears."

In the above editorial, Harley W. Lond urged exhibitors to unite and put pressure on their suppliers, while also increasing investment in advanced technology to provide "a kind of unmatched Entertainment methods". He emphasized the widespread criticism of the exhibition industry. Although all novel technical threats have been found in the home video market, for some exhibitors, the biggest threat is the exhibitor itself. The report said: "The well-maintained theater, with poor acoustics, dim screens, untidy decorations, and harsh patterns are discouraging potential ticket buyers than any electronic miracle on the market today."

After the NATO meeting in Las Vegas in 1981. The diversified model of shopping centers has begun to appear boring and outdated. In 1989, executive editor Tom Matthews wrote: "Compact, efficient, and usually lacking personal style movie theaters have become Japanese cars in Japanese movie theaters."

The movie needs to bring back magic. Jack Valenti simply pointed out in 1986: "The theater's box office is inseparable from the magic of movies on the market. One goes down, and the other goes down. One goes up, the other shines." A new type of theater Can bring back the magic: giant theater. After the mid-1980s, huge modern theater complexes began to replace smaller theaters. In 1988, Brussels Kinepolis opened the world's first huge theater with 25 screens in Belgium.

The path to a complex era is detailed in the following documents

. Without the Canadian cinema Odeon Group and its president and founder Garth Drabinsky, history cannot be said. Drabinsky and Nathan A. Taylor founded Cineplex Odeon in 1979. According to the magazine's latest exhibition giant list, by the end of this decade, it has become the fourth largest cinema in North America, with more than 1,500 screens in the United States and Canada. Large complexes are usually located in shopping malls and are surrounded by the 1,000-seat Cineplex Beverly Center in Los Angeles, but the new trend of independent buildings with multiple amenities is becoming more and more common. For example, Cineplex Odeon's flagship store in Universal Studios is adjacent to Universal Studios and its theme parks. It was built in 1987, has 18 screens and 6,000 seats, and is priced at $16.5 million. In a speech at the NATO meeting in 1988, Draginski emphasized the basic principles behind this huge complex. He emphasized that "there is an urgent need to develop the most vivid movie viewing environment that current technology and the most creative architectural design will allow."

The large theater is designed to provide a luxurious experience for moviegoers. They are often inspired by the old movie palaces, and the visionary architects of those classic theaters, such as Samuel "Rosie" Rotherfield, Thomas Lamb, and the Rapp family, are often used in large buildings. Mentioned. Dan Harkins wrote in 1987: "Lobby and auditoriums are more inclined to use magnificent furnishings than the previous shopping mall biscuit box floor plans." This mentality may explain why so many pages.

The outline of the film palace dedicated to restoration in the 1980s. Large buildings are also designed to optimize customer viewing and comfort, which means that Dolby stereo surround sound system and Lucasfilm THX sound system are essential. To help exhibitors navigate countless innovations and new terms, the magazine's "Modern Theater" section has expanded its coverage of sound at a speed comparable to when sound was first introduced in the 1920s.

The whole idea behind large theaters and the struggle with home entertainment is to make movies an "experience". Franchising has become an integral part of this strategy, as many theaters have expanded their menus to provide more specialty franchises, such as beer and wine, and larger (32-ounce sodas are much smaller than 45 and 60-ounce cups). ) And combos. Commodity matching began to flourish. of

The success of licensing and merchandise sales made exhibitors eager to try, and many companies began to sell licensed T-shirts, posters, records, video tapes, toys and other utensils at franchised booths. Exhibitors hope to increase profits and turn the "buzz" of satisfied movie audiences into impulse purchases after the film ends. This is especially true for children's movies. As one exhibitor said in 1988, "We sold a lot

Nailed to our theater. But we try to commodity

But no luck. "Inspired by the fast food industry, the Coca-Cola Company acquired Columbia Pictures in 1982. It was a pioneer in this strategy and set up multiple promotional combinations on reusable cups and popcorn buckets. "The heat for screen development. The more attributes, the better the effect. Every year, all the publicity and hype on just one hot picture puts the theater industry in a painful dilemma," said Herbert Arnold, vice president of Coca-Cola America, in an interview in 1980.

In 1989, Coca-Cola launched a self-service walking commissary booth made by Cretors, the inventor of the popcorn machine. Coca-Cola will be one of the most important developments in the exhibition industry: automation. Although articles about automation occasionally

Since the 1950s, modern automation technology as we know it today began to emerge in the 1980s. "Ticket vending machines are nothing romantic. (...) But automation has reached the box office, and theaters that are not modernized will be damaged." Auerbach warned in June 1981. In order to help exhibitors understand the new technical tools available, we introduced a special section "Computers" in the modern theater section of the 1980s, discussing computer-related benefits, usage, costs and products.

Automatic ticketing systems, such as Omniterm, Dataticket and Movie/Master, are often advertised and explained in magazines. For exhibitors, the ability to print tickets faster and provide all necessary information to moviegoers on ticketing, while also tracking sales, is a huge innovation for exhibitors. These systems also allow customers to book tickets over the phone in advance and pay with major credit cards. More and more software products (such as Theatron All in One) are integrated with franchise sales, programming, bookkeeping and even booth and auditorium management.

The 1980s also saw the development of an online database designed to manage distribution and marketing materials. Two database services analyzed in it

It is Baseline (access to weekend box office reports and information about upcoming movies), and Cinemascore (which can provide demographic data about night open audiences). In December 1988, the magazine decided to extend its service to the digital space through Boxoffice OnLine. This computer service was designed to provide exhibitors with important information (such as trailers, trailers and change release dates) faster than the print version. Is faster.

Computers have also become an important part of the systematic use of data to understand consumer behavior and tastes. A contributor summarized the need for more research on the motivations of movie fans to watch movies in such a fragmented media environment. "Today's moviegoers don't go

Movie they go

"Movies", he wrote, forecasting and data are more necessary than ever. Software such as entertainment data and market relay systems have been developed to predict which movies will be shown, thereby helping exhibitors guide the schedule. September 1989 According to Tom Matthews, the editor-in-chief of the month, film studios and exhibitors have more funds than ever before, "The film industry has become a digital game. "

By the end of this century, the industry is optimistic. At the NATO/Southwest Exhibition in 1989, NATO Chairman William Kartozian pointed out that both screens and revenue showed a 20-year upward trend. The former increased from 13,000 to 24,000, an increase of 80%. The increase in annual income from 1.2 billion US dollars to 4.4 billion US dollars, an increase of 27%. In this case, from IP-based active films to experienced films, vertical integration and automation, the trend adopted in the 1980s has become the cornerstone of the industry in the following decades.

Share this post

Although Warner Bros. might abandon theatrical exclusivity in the film released in 2021, they did not abandon the theater. Next year, the publisher's title will be on the streaming platform HBO Max... debut on both the big screen and the small screen.

Universal, Warner Bros., and Disney are among the major studios that released the most movies in theaters during the Covid-19 pandemic, and this position is likely to remain until 2021 Year and 2022. This is due to the unprecedented transaction of Universal Pictures. .

The name "Jacobs" may not have a name, but the retractable seat system has become one of many family businesses that promote the development of the exhibition industry. Having been married for 43 years, Fred and Denise Jacobs have gone through multiple industries together and entered...

During the week from December 25th to January 1st, the cinema will show many films. This is a guide for watching movies while continuing to watch the big screen holiday tradition with the family during this holiday.

Contact Us
  • Maggie Kwan
  • +86 757 2363 2953
  • +86 139 2480 2689
  • +86 757 2387 9469
  • info@fumeiseating.com
  • +86 139 2480 2689