ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon’s Albert Lao & USC Students

“How will advances in network technology over the next 36 months impact the way we watch movies, play video games, and create and produce immersive and engaging experiences?” was addressed during the first “ETC Executive Coffee with…” Zoom session. The September 23rd meeting was hosted by Albert Lao, executive director of solutions architecture for the Americas, Verizon Business Group, who took time to speak with a group of USC students. After a short video describing Verizon’s plans for 5G and edge computing, Lao led a discussion on the future of streaming media, the post-pandemic theatrical experience, immersive media, and other topics related to entertainment and technology. You can watch a 22-minute highlight reel of the one hour discussion or start with a 4-minute preview video. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon’s Albert Lao & USC Students

AMC to Open Two-Thirds of Its U.S. Theaters by September 3

AMC Theatres introduced a plan to open about 100 locations as early as August 20 and two-thirds of its 600 theaters by September 3. An earlier plan to open was abandoned after strong backlash. Now, customers and employees will be required to wear masks, seating in auditoriums will be limited and the company will implement social distancing and increased cleaning. Furthermore, AMC stated that masks, which would be sold at the theater for one dollar, must “cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly around your face and chin.” Continue reading AMC to Open Two-Thirds of Its U.S. Theaters by September 3

AMC Prepares to Open Most of its Theaters Worldwide by July

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest movie-theater chain, particularly hard. After registering a $2.2 billion net loss for Q1, it made “virtually no revenue” in the first two weeks of the quarter ending March 30. Now, AMC chief executive Adam Aron says he hopes to get AMC Theatres in the U.S. and U.K. open in July, although he did not specify a date. AMC has 1,000 theaters with 11,000 screens in several countries. In California, 51 counties have been approved to reopen movie theaters as soon as June 12. Continue reading AMC Prepares to Open Most of its Theaters Worldwide by July

Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Lance Podell of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services

For the latest installment in ETC’s Executive Spotlight series, we had a fascinating conversation with Lance Podell, senior vice president and general manager of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services (IMES), a leader in media archiving for the entertainment industry. IMES steers its film, music, broadcast and sports clients in media preservation, restoration and distribution. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Podell’s group has focused on safety and remote productivity while developing innovative methods for protecting assets and serving as an extension of its clients’ businesses. Iron Mountain has also created a “digital studio in a box” so that projects can stay on track during this challenging time. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Lance Podell of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services

TV Ad Budgets Dwindle, Productions Shut Down in Pandemic

With the presidential election and the Tokyo Summer Olympics, television networks expected robust advertising in 2020. But MoffettNathanson noted that, with the Olympics postponed and presidential campaigns muted due to the coronavirus pandemic, advertising revenue is expected to drop 12 percent; the WARC research group predicted that will pencil out to a $25.5 billion loss in spending. Although viewership has exploded during the shutdown, research firm Kantar said that companies have cut advertising budgets more than 40 percent. Continue reading TV Ad Budgets Dwindle, Productions Shut Down in Pandemic

Filmmakers Return to Production During COVID-19 Pandemic

After months of shutdown, film and television production is reviving in two countries that have successfully flattened the curve. Producer Lucas Foster isolated his cast and crew in a small Australia town to shoot Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn.” Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur used color-coded armbands to shoot Netflix sci-fi series “Katla” in Reykjavik. Going back to production in the time of coronavirus isn’t easy, and requires security guards to monitor social distancing, medical staff and other strict protocols. Continue reading Filmmakers Return to Production During COVID-19 Pandemic

Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Paramount’s Anthony Guarino

Welcome to the second week of ETC’s Executive Spotlight series, in which we interview execs from our member companies about how they are adapting business operations during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Today we have Anthony Guarino, EVP of Worldwide Technical Operations at Paramount Pictures, who explained that his studio had the necessary infrastructure and processes in place to smoothly transition their global archive, mastering and content distribution operations when social distancing went into effect. From the start of the safer-at-home orders, Paramount’s Tech Ops team has effectively worked from home since most of their operating processes utilize software systems that are web enabled. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Paramount’s Anthony Guarino

Some Drive-Ins Experience New Life as Movie Theaters Close

Drive-in theaters have been in decline since the 1970s, with only 300 such theaters still open in the U.S. Now, with movie theaters closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, some of those remaining drive-ins are experiencing a bit of a renaissance. In Virginia, one 54-year old theater is open for business, with at least three of that state’s other drive-ins ready to reopen. According to United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association president John Vincent, about 150 drive-ins will reopen in the next three weeks as the shutdowns are lifted. Continue reading Some Drive-Ins Experience New Life as Movie Theaters Close

TV, Streaming and E-Commerce Skyrocket During Pandemic

According to a poll by Los Angeles-based E-Poll Market Research, Americans have doubled their TV viewing in the last month-and-a-half and expect to continue watching TV and streaming more after the coronavirus pandemic is over. E-Poll also found that people are wary of going into spaces such as theaters, concert venues, sports stadiums and theme parks where social distancing is problematic. Polling lowest was “taking a cruise.” E-commerce is also booming in the current crisis, with Amazon seen as the biggest winner. Continue reading TV, Streaming and E-Commerce Skyrocket During Pandemic

Facebook, Google and Others Challenge Zoom’s Dominance

The group video chat app Zoom has been No. 1 in the Apple store for more than a month, growing 740 percent in the last month, according to App Annie. The company, valued at $47 billion, now boasts 300 million daily participants. Success spurs competition, and Zoom is now in the crosshairs of Big Tech and telecommunications companies. After Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg urged a focus on completing its video chat projects, the company launched Messenger Rooms for as many as 50 people. Continue reading Facebook, Google and Others Challenge Zoom’s Dominance

Movie Theater Owners Ponder How, When to Reopen Safely

Movie theater owners have started the conversation about when to reopen, even if new Hollywood movies won’t debut until mid-July. Although they are financially struggling, owners fear that opening up too soon could risk branding their theaters as dangerous places. That dilemma has suddenly become very real in Georgia, where the governor okayed the reopening of theaters on April 27, much to the dismay of many smaller operators who stated they do not plan to do so. The major movie chains there, however, haven’t weighed in. Continue reading Movie Theater Owners Ponder How, When to Reopen Safely

Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. federal government, via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local governments, is receiving analyses of people’s movements — based on location data from millions of mobile phones — in “certain areas of geographic interest.” The data, provided by the mobile advertising industry, is being used to understand how such movements may be impacting the spread of coronavirus. MIT researchers are also debuting a project to track COVID-19 patients via a phone app. Continue reading Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Facebook’s Instagram recently debuted Co-Watching, a feature that makes it possible for users to video chat while they browse the app. With Co-Watching, users can engage in direct-message video-chat conversations to look at saved, liked and suggested photos and videos together. Co-Watching is just one example of ways that Facebook and Instagram are shifting to accommodate users and communities during the coronavirus pandemic, when many are confined to home. Instagram first began testing Co-Watching a year ago. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Coronavirus: AMC Is Latest Theater Chain to Close Locations

In response to precautions being taken to avoid spread of the coronavirus, AMC Theatres announced that, as of yesterday, it is closing its U.S. locations for at least 6-12 weeks while remaining flexible to comply with CDC and government guidelines. “AMC Stubs A-List members will automatically have their accounts paused” for the period of closure (without billing or payments), while film fans “are encouraged to continue the AMC movie-watching experience through AMC Theatres On Demand.” AMC joins Regal Cinemas, which announced earlier that it would be closing all its theater locations “until further notice.” Continue reading Coronavirus: AMC Is Latest Theater Chain to Close Locations