Disney and others still need movie theatres: Cinémas Guzzo CEO
One of the loudest voices in Quebec’s cinema landscape isn’t buying what some Hollywood giants are selling about streaming platforms being the future of cinema.
“What has come out of this whole 11-month, or almost-12-month experience of changing the way we distribute movies is that PVOD (premium video on-demand), VOD is not a viable model to replace movie theatres. The platform is not strong enough to replace movie theatres,” said Vince Guzzo, president and chief executive officer at Cinéma Guzzo, in an interview on Tuesday.
Guzzo’s response was directed at Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Chapek, who said the COVID-19 pandemic has made movie-goers less patient and that the convenience of streaming platforms will prove a stronger pull once going to cinemas becomes a worldwide option again.
“The consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before, particularly since now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting titles at home pretty much when they want them,” Chapek said Monday at a media and technology conference organized by Morgan Stanley. “I’m not sure there’s going back.”
Guzzo was skeptical about Disney’s ability to speak to what consumers wanted out of their entertainment consumption habits.
“What’s always funny when you listen to these CEOs is how, when it suits them, they talk about the public’s changing tastes, or whatever, and then when it doesn’t suit them they do totally the opposite,” Guzzo said
“I’m assuming Disney Plus was created because customers wanted to pay twice the streaming platform money every month, right?” Guzzo sniped. “I mean it’s not because [Disney] thought it was an opportunity for them to create their own platform.”
Guzzo’s attack on Disney continued, as he posed an analogy regarding the future of in-person entertainment and questioned whether a trip to DisneyLand could be replaced by a virtual reality headset. He also said Chapek probably would not be Disney's CEO long enough to see the “ripple effect” he himself had touted.
The early stages of Quebec’s reopening plan have left Guzzo’s independent cinema chain operating at approximately 10-to-15-per-cent capacity, he said, adding that curfews pose an additional hurdle. Montreal currently has an 8 p.m. curfew in force as part of its pandemic containment measures.
“I think they just thought they were doing something good,” Guzzo said of the cinemas that have operated in the province as part of its limited economic reopening, “but ultimately it will cost them a lot of money.”