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Movie theaters explore renting out their space to survive COVID

(BUSINESS NEWS) Movie theaters are getting creative by renting out private auditoriums to the public in hopes of outlasting the pandemic.

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Movie theaters glowing externally, open for rentals, but is it enough?

A lot of sectors are hanging on by a thread due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Festivals and events have either been postponed, canceled, or gone virtual. Broadway remains in the dark and isn’t set to open until Summer 2021. Hollywood is in a disarray, which has delayed filming schedules and movie release dates. As a result, movie theaters are struggling. And to stay afloat, they’re taking a more creative approach to bring in revenue.

AMC Cinemark, the largest theater chain in the U.S., is letting people rent out private theaters. Small groups of 20 people or less can rent out auditoriums to watch a movie or host a small celebration. Starting at $99 plus tax, this offer is currently available at around 600 locations nationwide.

According to a Variety article, the program was in beta for four weeks. During that time, the company received 110,000 inquiries. This number was four times higher than the total amount of private rentals AMC had the year before. While this is good news for AMC, will it be enough?

“I don’t think it’s going to be much from a cash flow perspective, but it’s certainly you know getting people back to coming to the theaters, which is what we need,” said Managing Director, Equity Analyst at Macquarie Securities Chad Beynon in an interview.

While private auditorium rentals may have eased some moviegoers’ minds and nudged them to come back and visit, what will, ultimately, hold back AMC and other theaters is available content. So far, 44 movies have been pushed back from 2020 to 2021. “Theaters are open. They’re waiting for the content,” Beyon said. “They’re just, you know, sitting and praying that there won’t be more delays.”

And, besides delays, another problem hurting movie theaters is the way the movie distribution model has begun changing. For instance, Mulan went straight to Disney Plus and never made it to the theaters. So, will other movie companies do the same?

Beyon said that about half of a studio’s earnings are gained during a movie’s theatrical release. For big companies like Disney, he doesn’t think direct-to-consumer will be permanent for them. However, this distribution model change could become more long-term for smaller mid-market movies that generate around $30 to $100 million.

So, are there any movie theaters that might stand a chance? Well, IMAX might. Although the company does rely a lot on blockbusters, it also does great with local content around the world. Also, it is viewed as a premium brand so people are willing to pay for it. “If they’re going to get out of their house, sit in one of these auditoriums, they want to see it in the best format, and that’s what IMAX offers,” Beyon said. But, not everyone is IMAX.

AMC has about $400 million in cash right now, and they are burning around $100 million each month. Beyon suggests AMC trim down its portfolio if it wants to stand a chance. “I think it’s going to be near impossible for them [AMC] to last without doing something else,” Beyon said. Blockbusters generate about $100 million domestically and account for about 60% of box office sales. With content being delayed or pushed straight to streaming services, private rentals might be creative, but not be sufficient for theaters like AMC to survive.

Veronica Garcia has a Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Science in Radio/TV/Film from The University of Texas at Austin. When she’s not writing, she’s in the kitchen trying to attempt every Nailed It! dessert, or on the hunt trying to find the latest Funko Pop! to add to her collection.

Business News

Are Gen Z more fickle in their shopping, or do brands just need to keep up?

(BUSINESS NEWS) As the world keep changing, brands and businesses have to change along with it. Some say Gen Z is fickle, but others say it is the nature of change.

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Gen Z woman shopping outside on a laptop.

We all know that if you stop adapting to the world around you, you’re going to be left behind. A recently published article decided to point out that the “fickle” Gen Z generation are liable to leave a poor digitally run site and never return. Now of course we’ve got some statistics here… They did do some kind of due diligence.

This generation, whose life has been online from almost day one, puts high stakes on their experiences online. It is how they interact with the world. It’s keyed into their self-worth and their livelihoods, for some. You want to sell online, get your shit together.

They have little to no tolerance for anything untoward. 80% of Gen Zers reported that they are willing to try new brands since the pandemic. Brand loyalty, based on in-person interaction, is almost a thing of the past. When brands are moved from around the world at the touch of your fingertips there’s nothing to stop you. If a company screws up an order, or doesn’t get back to you? Why should you stick with them? When it comes to these issues, 38% of Gen Zers say they only give a brand 1 second chance to fix things. Three-quarters of the surveyed responded saying that they’ll gladly find another retailer if the store is just out of stock.

This study goes even further though and discusses not just those interactions but also the platforms themselves. If a website isn’t easy to navigate, why should I use it? Why should I spend my time when I can flit to another and get exactly what I need instead of getting frustrated? There isn’t a single company in the world that shouldn’t take their webpage development seriously. It’s the new face of their company and brand. How they show that face is what will determine if they are a Rembrandt or a toddlers noodle art.

The new age of online shopping has been blasted into the atmosphere by the pandemic. Online shopping has boosted far and above expected numbers for obvious reasons. When the majority of your populace is told to stay home. What else are they going to do? Brands that have been around for decades have gone out of business because they didn’t change to an online format either. Keep moving forward.

Now as a side note here, as someone who falls only just outside the Gen Z zone the articles description of fickle is pompous. The stories I’ve heard of baby boomers getting waiters fired, or boycotting stores because of a certain shopkeeper are just as fickle and pointed. Nothing has changed in the people, just how they interact with the world. Trying to single out a single generation based on how the world has changed is a shallow view of the world.

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Business News

Chasing Clubhouse success? How the audio chat room trend affects products

(BUSINESS NEWS) It is inevitable that when a new successful trend comes along, other companies will try to make lightning strike twice. Will the audio chat room catch on?

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Smiling woman seated in dark room illuminated by lamp and phone light, participating in audio chat room.

Businesses are always about the hot new thing. People are the always looking for the easiest dollar with the least amount of effort these days. It tends to lead to products that are shoddy and horribly maintained with the least amount of flexibility in pleasing their customers. However, you also have to look at the customer base for this as well. You follow where the money is because that’s where its being spent. It’s like a merry-go-round, constantly chasing the next thing. And the latest of these is the audio chat room.

During the pandemic the entire world saw an eruption of social audio investments. Silicon Valley has gone crazy with this new endeavor. On the 18th of April this year, Clubhouse said it closed on some new funding, which was valued at $4 billion for a live audio app. This thing is still in beta without a single penny of revenue!

The list of other companies who have pursued new audio suites (either through purchase or creation) include:

  • Facebook
  • Spotify
  • Twitter
  • Discord
  • Apple

This whole new audio fad is still in its infancy. These social media and tech giants are all jumping headlong into it with who knows how much forethought. A number of them have their own issues to deal with, but they’ve put things aside to try and grab these audio chat room coattails that are running by. It’s a mix of feelings about the situation honestly. They are trying to survive and keep their customers.

If a competitor creates this new capability and they stay stagnant then they lose customers. If they do this however without dealing with their current issues then they could also lose people. It’s an interesting catch 22 for people out there. Which group do you fall in? Are you antsy for a new toy or are you waiting for one of these lovely sites to fix a problem? It’s another day in capitalism.

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Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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