[Photo Credit: Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging]
Interview by Daniel Loria
Your involvement in exhibition began as an usher at a movie theater. Were there any early lessons your learned from that experience?
One of the key focuses at that level is the guest, and if you keep that in mind throughout your career-that this is about the guest experience-then that influences everything that you do and the decisions that you make. I always look at the exhibition business as multiple businesses: it's a real estate business; in terms of dining options and food service, it's a hospitality business; it's about showmanship and the movies. You need to keep all those things in mind. Where you locate your theater, what kind of building you have, what amenities you add-you learn that from the ground up when you greet the guests and cut their tickets.
You've worked in a number of different sectors in the industry-sales, booking, distribution-and you went back to exhibition. What brought you back to this side of the business?
I was both a distributor and an exhibitor, and in my last iteration I was more on the technology side, working between exhibition and distribution. Exhibition has a special place for me, because I think it's more entrepreneurial. It allows you to challenge yourself on a lot of different fronts in terms of staying ahead of the industry. In distribution, a lot of these things stay out of your entrepreneurial realm. You're given a slate of films, so you're dealing with the given, whereas with exhibition you can make decisions that affect change. That's quite appealing to me, to make a decision that influences the other parts of the business.
You have international experience as well, not only with your work in Canada but with UCI. What are some of the lessons you've learned from the global marketplace, which has grown from an ancillary part of the business to a leading influencer?
I think that exhibition around the world has to be regarded as multiple local businesses. The one thing that you learn quite early when you take on a multinational job is to not paint everything with the same brush. You have to really listen to the local operators, customers, and competitors. The differences are vast throughout the world. You have to really take account of the local cultures and people and the local appetite for your product-whether it's the film, the theater building, or the seats. Everything must have that sensibility in order to succeed.
Are the borders being blurred between international exhibition markets and those in North America?
Absolutely. I don't think the United States has a monopoly on all the good ideas. I've seen a wonderful execution on cinemas in other parts of the world. The U.S. didn't start luxury seating; that came from Australia. Reserved seating, big in Europe, is now finding its way to the U.S. Cinemas serving alcoholic beverages like beer and wine, that was happening in Europe years ago. I think it's all about finding the right ideas and best practices, and then going out and testing them. Customers have to adopt them, and not everything is transferable between markets.
You've been at the forefront of many revolutions within the industry: the introduction of the multiplex, the transition from analog to digital, and the evolution of digital 3D.
I think it's part of the industry's need to stay ahead of competing activities that a customer might have. I always used to say that you compete more for peoples' time than for anything else, so you need to completely reinvent yourself, and this industry is very good at that. Whether it was stadium seating, multiplexes, digital, 3D, the industry is constantly looking for the next big thing. I was always one to ask what's next, and if there was something coming out, I wanted to try it. Not everything works, but you want to try it in order to see if your customers will react to it. I remember before digital cinema, doing football-game broadcasts in Canada on a big television projector that would show a very fuzzy picture. We had a great time with that because we made it an event. I was in Europe when the first digital projectors came along, and they were expensive, but we had to see where this was going. Maybe sometimes we were a little early, meaning more cost, difficulty, and bugs. I remember getting the call that said that the 1.2K projector I just purchased wasn't going to be getting any more films, that I had to upgrade to the 2K. Sometimes being early also means being a little bit ahead of the curve.
You were certainly early for something like digital 3D. Tell us about your experience with RealD; what was it like to launch digital 3D at time when people really weren't sure of the format's long-term viability? Far from being a passing fad, you helped build a global leader in the business.
I was invited to look at the [RealD] presentation early on. I had the same skepticism that I think everyone else shared: is it going to be a fad? Is it going to come and go? And I asked those same questions. I always like to approach things from that perspective: how is this going to be different? Why is it going to work this time when it didn't in the previous two attempts? Digital technology allowed for a lot of the corrections to 3D that were never possible before. 3D in the past gave people headaches because it was so hard to sync. The glasses were also horrible. It was just a terrible experience. When I went to see RealD and what they were doing, it was different. The next thing was to socialize it with some of my studio and filmmaker connections to see what they thought. If this was going to work, it had to have support from the entire ecosystem-not just me pushing it on somebody. It had to be something filmmakers, studios, and exhibition would embrace. Creating that ecosystem was key to whether or not this was going to be successful. When filmmakers like James Cameron came aboard, he ended up being on the board of RealD. I remember early on sitting with Dick Cook [former chairman of Walt Disney Studios] and he wanted to transform Chicken Little into a 3D movie. I saw the light go on in who I considered to be geniuses in our industry; they believed in it, and that gave me even more confidence that it could happen. Then it was just about putting all the other pieces together. The exhibitor platform: we designed a business plan where it would take very little capital for the exhibitor to participate and where we would participate only once they made money.
Was there ever a "eureka" moment with digital 3D, where you just stepped back and realized it was going to work, or was it more of a gradual process?
I relied quite a bit on what I was hearing in the creative community. They looked at 3D as another creative tool, and it's been most successful when it's utilized that way. It has been least successful when it's forced on a movie that doesn't need to be in 3D. If you look at the great storytellers that use that tool effectively: James Cameron, Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese-these great filmmakers who know how to best use their cinematic tools-that's when it's effective. We saw it play out again with Gravity.
Have you had any mentors in your career?
I think you learn as much from people you don't want to emulate as you do from those you do. People that have very draconian ways of doing business, you learn just as much from them about how you don't want to act. Then there are those people you want to emulate, and there are a lot of them who influenced my career, both in distribution and exhibition. I don't mean to leave anybody out: Frank Mancuso, Ted Mann, Larry Gleason, Dick Cook, Sumner Redstone. There are so many who touched my life and influenced me positively.
If we look at cinema, before we were an art form, before we were an industry, before anything else-we were first and foremost a technology. In your career you've helped bring new technologies to exhibitors and audiences alike. Are there any new technology projects you're involved in?
I always say, what's next? When I was building theaters, I would challenge my team by asking them what they did to make people turn right into our complex instead of turning left into our competitors'. That's a question I continue to ask about the industry. How do you make people come back instead of having them watch movies on their mobile devices? I think the answer is technology. Technology is our friend and enemy; it's the same reason we lose people from coming to our theaters, but it can also cure that problem. I look at technology as how you can stay ahead of other experiences.
Where do you think we are now as an industry, and where do you see the business going in the next 10 or 15 years?
I think there will always be a place for cinema-going as a communal experience, but that experience will change by definition in the way we approach our guests. I don't think the conventional theater in the future will look like it does today. I think it's important to try to understand that technology can get us to a more immersive and entertaining spectacle than what we have today. I see interactivity playing a big role, immersiveness, a reconfiguration of cinemas. It will be evolutionary, not revolutionary; one technology will lead to the invention of others, and so on.
By Daniel Garris
Disney's Avengers: Age of Ultron grossed $5.99 million on Tuesday to lead the daily box office for a twelfth straight day. The blockbuster superhero sequel from Marvel was up 11 percent over Monday and down 54 percent from last Tuesday. In comparison, 2012's Marvel's The Avengers increased 7 percent on it second Tuesday to gross $8.48 million, while 2013's Iron Man 3 increased 12 percent on its second Tuesday to gross $5.16 million. With a twelve-day gross of $324.79 million, Avengers: Age of Ultron is running 17 percent behind the $389.47 million twelve-day take of The Avengers and 10 percent ahead of the $294.72 million twelve-day haul of Iron Man 3.
Warner's Hot Pursuit held steady in a distant second place with $1.29 million. The comedy from MGM and New Line starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara was up 35 percent over Monday's performance. Despite the nice daily hold on Tuesday, Hot Pursuit continues to perform softer than expected with a modest five-day start of $16.19 million. The film is currently running just behind the $16.41 million five-day take of 2011's Something Borrowed.
Lionsgate's The Age of Adaline took in $0.679 million to remain in third. The romantic drama starring Blake Lively was up a strong 36 percent over Monday and down a slim 16 percent from last Tuesday. The Age of Adaline has grossed a very solid $32.93 million through 19 days of release.
Ex Machina continued to claim fourth place on Tuesday with an estimated $0.511 million. A24's critically acclaimed sci-fi film was up 16 percent over Monday and up a very impressive 50 percent over last Tuesday. Ex Machina has grossed $16.71 million in 33 days thanks in part to strong holding power.
Furious 7 rounded out the day's unchanged top five with $0.479 million. The seventh installment of Universal's blockbuster action franchise increased 18 percent from Monday and was down a healthy 22 percent from last Tuesday. The 40-day total gross for Furious 7 stands at a massive $339.44 million.
Their official press release:
LOS ANGELES - May 13, 2015 - According to Fandango, the nation's leading digital destination for moviegoers and fans with more than 36 million unique visitors per month*, two new releases, "Pitch Perfect 2" and "Mad Max: Fury Road," are dominating Fandango's weekend ticket sales and registering strong scores (89 and 87, respectively, out of 100 points) on Fanticipation, Fandango's movie buzz indicator.
"Pitch Perfect 2," voted in a Fandango moviegoer poll as the summer's most anticipated comedy, is outpacing previous summer comedies like "The Heat" at the same point in the Fandango sales cycle.
According to a survey of more than 1,000 "Pitch Perfect 2" ticket-buyers on Fandango:
· 86% are fans of Anna Kendrick;
· 84% are fans of Rebel Wilson;
· 71% have seen the original "Pitch Perfect" more than once;
· 67% will see the movie as part of a "girls' night out" get-together.
Fandango's "Mad Max" pre-sales are stronger than its pre-sales for previous R-rated action movies like "Lucy," "Kingsman: The Secret Service" and "300: Rise of an Empire."
According to a survey of more than 1,000 "Mad Max: Fury Road" ticket-buyers on Fandango:
· 92% are excited to see action effects that were created on set (and not by CGI);
· 85% had seen at least one of the previous "Mad Max" movies;
· 83% are anxious to see "Mad Max"'s Charlize Theron as a hard-hitting action star;
· 62% are looking forward to seeing the film's supporting cast of female action heroines.
"‘Pitch Perfect 2' and ‘Mad Max: Fury Road' are the hot tickets this weekend, and the weekend race looks close," says Fandango Chief Correspondent Dave Karger. "Both films appeal to very different but sizable audiences. 'Pitch 2' is perfect for date night and girls' night out, while the ‘Mad Max' franchise has been rebooted for a new generation of action fans with gritty performances by Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy."
About Fandango's Fanticipation
Known for having its finger on the pulse of moviegoers, Fandango's movie buzz indicator, Fanticipation, provides statistical insight into the movies fans are planning to see in a given weekend. Fanticipation scores (based on a 1 to 100-point scale) are calculated via an algorithm of Fandango's advance ticket sales, website and mobile traffic, and social media engagement. Fanticipation is not intended as a forecast of the weekend box office; it is a snapshot of movie fan sentiment.
*According to comScore
by Travis Reid, CEO, Screenvision
Who is Joe Peixoto ... and why is it spelled that way?
Joe Peixoto has lots of friends, many of whom make up the fraternity of people who worked for, and were mentored by, our late, great friend Ted Mann. Joe and I are both proud to be "Mann Boys," a group of guys who have stayed close, helped each other whenever possible, and have been lucky enough to do well in life. And Joe is among the best of us all.
As Joe's friend, one has lots of adventures. Joe and I have rarely lived in the same part of the country and yet over nearly 40 years of friendship, we've been to each other's weddings, met up at virtually every industry event for 30 years, gone to a football game in an RV, been to concerts together, gone to car races at Laguna Seca, and attended the New Orleans Jazz Festival.
And I've been to his beach house several times with my wife, with a group of friends, and once when I just needed a place to be. Our next adventure, for which I will rely on Joe's Portuguese roots, will be sailing. Joe couldn't be a better friend-though he does come with a warning: whatever happens, he won't be the one who gets in trouble. A typical conversation with my wife after a late night out goes like this:
"Who was with you?"
"Lucky you got home at all."
"Oh! How's Joe?"
Joe, the Family Man
If you know Joe, you know his family. They are the most important thing in his life, and he loves to share with us what they are doing and how they are doing. When Joe moved up to San Francisco in 1977 for a very brief stay, I told him about some people he should meet, including my friends the Steele sisters. Joe met Jan Steele, married her within six months, and moved her to New York. Over the years they have lived in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Los Angeles again and have traveled the world together. Together they raised their children to believe they can be anything they dream to be and to go where their passions take them. They all took that to heart. Michael, the oldest at 33, and his wife, Maile, are both professors at the University of Oregon. David, 30, is a successful concept artist for Microsoft; he lives in Seattle with his wife, Elizabeth, a therapist who works with troubled children. And 29-year-old Christine is a professional ballerina with the Sarasota Ballet of Florida. Who knows what their 3-year-old granddaughter, Matilda, will do?
Joe, the Consummate Professional
Joe has pursued his career with energy, enthusiasm, and creativity, which has served him well in positions in distribution, exhibition, and technology. His successes have been on a global scale. He spent his first five years in the industry working at United Artists Distribution. Joe moved twice during that time and rose from an entry-level booker to a salesman to a sales manager. He later had two more stints in distribution, moving from UA to Associated Film Distribution and then later to De Laurentiis Entertainment Group. He went to work at Mann Theatres as a film buyer in 1980 and later moved to Metropolitan Theatres, where he held a general management position.
In 1992 Joe was hired by Paramount Studios as president of their Canadian exhibition chain, Famous Players, where he proved to be a more than formidable competitor to my company, Loews Cineplex. Joe completely reinvented Famous by developing innovative designs that created great customer experiences and enabled retail opportunities within the complexes. Joe's work resulted in huge increases in attendance, revenue, and market share and influenced theater design well beyond the Canadian border.
Five years later, Joe moved to the CEO position of United Cinemas International, the largest international circuit in the world, with 1,100 screens located in 14 different countries. Joe applied many of the same ideas he had developed in Canada to great success around the world, leading to the sale of the circuit in 2004 to Terra Firma.
Perhaps Joe's greatest success was at RealD, where he started in 2005. At that time Joe was the fourth member of the management team; they had no 3D screens deployed and there were no 3D films in production. Through Joe's leadership and hard work, RealD is now by far the world's largest 3D platform with over 25,000 screens.
Why Joe can spell Peixoto any way he wants
Several years ago, just as the ShoWest (now CinemaCon) convention was starting, a very close friend of ours experienced a devastating family crisis. Joe heard about the situation while on his way to a meeting in Las Vegas at ShoWest. He handed the person he was with his room key, asked him to send his luggage home, and got in a cab for the airport. He was on the next plane out and was with our friend within a couple of hours. And that story tells you all you need to know about Joe.
Disney is reporting that as of May 13, Avengers: Age of Ultron has grossed $932.2 million worldwide. The blockbuster opened in China yesterday with $33.9 million, an all-time high for a Tuesday in the Middle Kingdom. Also on Tuesday, Disney passed the $2 billion mark at the global box office for the 14th straight year thanks to strong international showings from Cinderella, Into The Woods, and Big Hero 6.