Warner and Universal Discuss Theatre Industry Issues
Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and Warner Bros were asked this week if they had any interest in buying movie theatres to keep the industry afloat. Both had the same answer - no.
Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, said, "We have no plans to do that currently." Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of Warner Bros, also answered, saying, "We have no plans either."
Theatres have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with box office earnings down over 80%. New York City and Los Angeles, both huge markets, have been shut down for over 7 months and there's no telling when they may open up.
Both women did say that they will continue to support the theatres by continuing to offer theatrical releases.
"I'm kind of an armchair sociologist and I believe people want to have communal experiences and especially with certain genres. We're big fans of the exhibitors. They've been good partners of ours for many decades. We're rooting for them. I know it's tough sledding right now. I'm hoping they come out on the other side, probably even stronger," said Sarnoff.
She added, "There is no playbook. What you do all day long is you think about scenarios - ‘What if this happens? What if that happens? What should be our Plan A, Plan B, Plan C?' Without precedent, it is incredibly mentally taxing to try to think about what the right way to go forward."