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How movie theaters are having to adapt to changing times

Following the success of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour concert film, movie theaters are looking to repeat those box office figures through Beyonce's upcoming Renaissance concert film. Movie theaters are having a tough time getting movie fans into seats while competing with streaming content, especially after disappointing Thanksgiving weekend sales.

Box Office Pro Chief Analyst Shawn Robbins joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the ways movie theaters are learning to pivot and lean into certain strategies, such as creating events and experiences through these concert films, to assuage changing consumer wants.

"Eventizing things like that is partly attributable to the memberships, to the rewards programs, to being able to pay $25 a month and having access to go see at least one or two movies a week," Robbins says. "It's things like that the industry is really starting to embrace and I think is going to be a big part of their future..."

Click here to watch the full interview on the Yahoo Finance YouTube page or you can watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live here.

Video transcript

BRAD SMITH: Even in some of the strongest times for movie theaters, there were still the types of polls or the promotional environments that they had to really implore to make sure that they were still getting people into the theaters. And some of those had created an entire business models that were just not sustainable, that fell by the wayside.

We're looking at you, MoviePass. But at the end of the day, now, when you think about the number of people that are AMC stubs members, the number of people that have bought into this rewards type program, how strong is that holding up for the theater chains and operators? And is that enough to buoy them, if they're not seeing the same type of foot traffic that they had become accustomed to pre-pandemic?

SHAWN ROBBINS: That's such a great question. I think it absolutely has been a positive side, especially, for the major chains AMC and Regal. They lean on those subscribers. Because in slower times, people can look on that subscription and say, OK, I've got access to go see a movie. Let's just see what's playing right now, even if I don't know about a big Marvel movie. I don't know about "Barbie" or "Oppenheimer" or something like that. It's big out at the time.

And in this new world, where, I think, especially, post-pandemic in a streaming world, as I mentioned, some people are a lot more selective about what gets them motivated to go out and see something in the theater. And eventizing things like that is partly attributable to the memberships, to the rewards programs, to you being able to pay $25 a month and having access to go see at least one or two movies a week, if not more. It's things like that the industry is really starting to embrace. And I think it's going to be a big part of their future because this is a new world. As much as success, I think, lies ahead, it's also probably realistic to never expect things to go back to the way they were. So there has to be some adaptation there.

SEANA SMITH: Shawn, how are you looking at the importance of release dates surrounding holiday weekends? And I bring that up because of what we saw play out over Thanksgiving weekend. A bit of a disappointment when you look at the performance here, especially what we saw from Disney's "Wish."

When studios are thinking of release dates, how much-- I guess, is it as big of a priority some of those coveted holiday weekends, as they had been pre-pandemic?

SHAWN ROBBINS: Yeah. That's a great question too. I think with Disney's case, it's a little bit tricky right now. Their struggles, in particular, with "Wish" last week, come down to more of a branding issue and more of how consumers see them now. As I mentioned, it's a streaming world. And Disney, in a lot of ways, is the best example of that. Because they've essentially trained consumers to expect their biggest and best content free to stream within a few months, if you have an $8, $10 subscription at home.

But strategy and timing is still very important. I think we saw "Napoleon" do really well over the holiday. We, typically, do see that with a big high profile adult movie. And we'll have "Wonka" and things like "Aquaman" later this month with varying levels of expectations, of course. But it always comes down to the content.

Does it scream being important? Does it need to be something I need to go see in theaters? I think that's how people approach movies even more nowadays. Is it something that's getting good reviews? Are my peers, my friends, my coworkers talking about it in a positive way? More and more, that's important. But it always helps to be around a holiday or just any time on the calendar, I think, can support a good movie. It just comes down to those other factors.