Box Office Pro Chief Analyst Shawn Robbins joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss box office expectations for ‘The Batman,’ AMC charging more for certain tickets, and the new subscription plan from Disney+.
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– I don’t care what happens to me.
– It’s only going to get worse for you.
– Whoa, take it easy, sweatheart.
RACHELLE AKUFFO: Well, could “Batman” signal the beginning of a blockbuster season for the box office? Movie theaters and streaming services are banking on it. For more on that, let’s bring in Yahoo Finance’s Alexandra Canal with more.
ALEXANDRA CANAL: Thanks, Rachelle. That’s right. “The Batman” is expected to exceed $100 million in domestic ticket sales. Joining me now to discuss is Boxoffice Pro Chief Analyst Shawn Robbins. Shawn, thank you so much for joining us today. Now you guys have a target between $130 million and $170 million when it comes to the film’s domestic debut. Lay out the factors that are at play here because theaters really want this movie to be a blockbuster success.
SHAWN ROBBINS: That’s true. And thanks for having me back. This is a movie that’s been a long time coming ever since “Spider-Man” came out. Hollywood and movie theaters have been waiting for the next big movie. And naturally, it’s another comic book movie.
“The Batman” has a lot going in its favor. Strong reviews came out earlier this week. There’s an intense fan base [? that’s ?] always driven this franchise with very, very few exceptions [? that’s ?] always delivered very high box office benchmarks.
This is also a reboot, though. So there’s kind of this transition period where I think we’re looking at the next generation, probably Gen Z’s Batman, in a way I would say it because it’s been about 17 years since Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale started their trilogy, and then we had Ben Affleck in between. So this is really going to be a test of where the future of Batman goes. And I think it’s off to a very good start.
ALEXANDRA CANAL: And it’s interesting, too, because this film is going to serve as an experiment of sorts. AMC charging a higher ticket price for “The Batman” compared to other releases out there. I know this is a pricing model that has been employed in some international markets. But do you think this could be a viable strategy here in the US as theaters look to redefine themselves in this post-pandemic era?
SHAWN ROBBINS: It’s absolutely in a testing phase, and it’s going to take some time, I think, to see how consumers react to it. There’s this– I think the overarching question is, will people see it as an added charge for a premium viewing experience? Or will it just essentially kind of maybe push them away from some of those peak show times?
I think economic situations are really something to consider right now, given what’s going on with the overall broader economy. But this is also an industry where movie theaters in particular have often seen the fact that they are still one of the cheapest forms of entertainment out there relative to some of the more expensive things that families go into in particular. But it’s also an industry moving more and more toward premium content, toward IMAX, toward Dolby Cinema, toward these big franchise movies. And I think we’re going to have to pay attention to the long-term trends and see other distributors experiment with this model because it’s very much an unknown thing here in North America.
ALEXANDRA CANAL: So if we do get to that point, if we get into that more premium experience moving forward, what does that mean for those smaller independent theater chains? Can they survive in that environment?
SHAWN ROBBINS: It’s a challenge. I mean, it’s still a challenge just from the pandemic itself, regardless of any other changes coming forward. That’s an audience that is very geographically dependent. And by that, I mean outside of New York and LA where film circles are the strongest and tend to support art houses the most. It really depends on other maybe mid-tier markets.
What we’re really seeing so far is the slowest recovery of moviegoing are for those theaters or for those movies that wouldn’t really be high profile anyway and need to build a kind of word of mouth. So in terms of how this might impact that sector of the industry, I think that’s even further down the road. Right now, they’re still trying to bring back the audience. And then they’ll look at the long-term trends of what can we do to continue adapting to the economic needs of the industry right now.
ALEXANDRA CANAL: And hopefully, “The Batman” will help bring back some of that audience. But when you take a look back over the past several months, “Spider-Man– No Way Home” was the last major box office success. But that was in December. It’s now March. There seems to be a bit of a backlog in terms of content. What does that mean as we inch closer to the summer box office season, which has struggled in the past few years due to COVID?
SHAWN ROBBINS: Right. I think “The Batman” is a harbinger of very good things to come. Knock on wood. Obviously, we’ve all grown used to things changing over the last couple of years. But studios really prepared for this.
I think this is a two-pronged situation. It began with the fact that productions were delayed over the past two years. So that’s caused some natural delays in movies even finishing being filmed and readied for release. But on top of that, studios also prepared for a winter that would eventually see a variant wave, which ended up happening with Omicron. And that’s one reason we didn’t see them plan a lot of releases months in advance for January and February.
“Batman” changes that. March is still going to be a little slow. It’s going to have some breathing room for “The Batman.” But once April rolls around, we have several high-profile movies that month. And by the time May rolls around, it’s essentially an almost normal type of summer calendar.
ALEXANDRA CANAL: I’m very excited and looking forward to that. Now I do want to get your take on this. Disney Plus just confirmed that they’ll be offering a new ad-supported subscription tier, just another example of how these platforms are really working hard to attract paying users. We’ve talked a lot about the threat of streamers at the box office. What’s your view on the streaming wars and how that could impact the future of the theatrical industry?
SHAWN ROBBINS: My view is still largely unchanged. I think the two can really co-exist. Now I do think obviously we’re seeing some waves and some changes in what types of content will be watched on what platform. That’s going to continue evolving. It’s very hard to compare it to the theatrical industry because it is so matured versus streaming, which is relatively nascent.
But Marvel is a great example. It’s delivered a number of hit shows on Disney Plus and still hit movies at the box office. Granted not everything can be Marvel, there are going to be a lot more challenging situations.
But I think, ultimately, there are two different types of content, two different platforms. And as much as people want to go out at times, people want to stay at home at times. What we often see is that the people who stream the most content tend to be the people that go to the movies most often as well.
ALEXANDRA CANAL: Absolutely. There’s a lot to keep track of in this industry. And I’m very grateful to have you to walk us all through it. Shawn Robbins, the Chief Analyst at Boxoffice Pro, thank you so much. And back to you, Emily.