Morning Consult Entertainment: What’s Ahead & Week in Review


Essential entertainment industry news & intel to start your day.
August 1, 2021
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Welcome back to the Sunday newsletter. Before we begin, the national average of adults who said they were comfortable going to movies climbed by how many percentage points between April and July of this year? Answer choices: 


A: 5 B: 7 C: 11 D: 15 E: 17 


Check out the answer at the bottom of today’s newsletter.


What’s Ahead

Activision Blizzard Inc. reports earnings on Tuesday. Why it’s worth watching: While it will be interesting to see if last year’s pandemic-inspired gaming boom has been sustained when the company discusses second-quarter earnings during a 4:30 p.m. conference call, I’m focused on updates from company leadership about California’s lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and discrimination at the company. These topics have long been discussed in the gaming world and Activision Blizzard’s response to the lawsuit (which employees haven’t been pleased with so far) could set a precedent for future incidents in the industry. 


ViacomCBS Inc. and Cinemark Holdings Inc. also report earnings this week. Why it’s worth watching: ViacomCBS is scheduled to report second-quarter earnings on Thursday with a conference call at 8:30 a.m. It’s been nearly five months since Paramount+ launched, so I’m listening for any subscriber numbers the company shares, particularly whether or not they will break out specifically how many subscribers Paramount+ has compared to the ViacomCBS’ Showtime service. 


I’m also interested to hear what the company says about “A Quiet Place Part II.” The film had a strong run in theaters before it was made available on Paramount+. I’m eager to hear what executives have to say about its performance in both outlets and whether or not the film’s success has influenced the distribution strategy for some of Paramount Pictures’ upcoming films, notably “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Mission: Impossible 7.” 


Cinemark will wrap things up on Friday when it discusses its second-quarter financials in an 8:30 a.m. conference call. I’ll be listening to any projections about the outlook of the theatrical space for the rest of the year, especially as concerns about the delta variant grow. (Seventy-three percent of U.S. adults said they are concerned about the delta variant, per Morning Consult polling. )


“The Suicide Squad” opens in theaters and on HBO Max on Friday. Why it’s worth watching: Superhero films often feel like a guaranteed win at the weekend box office, but “Black Widow’s” post-opening numbers may have some questioning that notion. James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” is the latest superhero flick to open day-and-date, and I’ll have my eye on not just its opening weekend tally, but its grosses in subsequent weeks to see if it has staying power, or if the lure of streaming availability will be too much for theaters to compete with. Importantly, the well-reviewed film could also serve as a test to see if the delta variant is already dissuading audiences from making the trip to the cinema. 


Events Calendar


Week in Review

  • Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney Co. alleging that the company’s decision to release “Black Widow” on Disney+ at the same time it was released in theaters breached her contract, which she said promised a theatrical-only release, while a source familiar with the actor’s contract contended that Disney’s move cost Johansson more than $50 million. A spokesman for Disney said the company was in compliance with Johansson’s contract and argued that the Disney+ release has “significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation” on top of the $20 million she has already received. 
  • Spotify Technology SA had 365 million monthly active users as of June 30, a 22 percent year-over-year increase, and 165 million paying subscribers, a 20 percent increase. Quarterly subscription revenue climbed 17 percent to 2.06 billion euros, or $2.4 billion, while advertising revenue totaled 275 million euros, an increase of 110 percent. 
  • A potential deal between ViacomCBS Inc. and Comcast Corp. is being delayed as the Biden administration increases antitrust scrutiny of acquisitions, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions, who said both parties are waiting to see how the proposed merging of AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit with Discovery Inc. is received. The source said it wouldn’t be surprising if discussions between ViacomCBS and Comcast continued in the fall. 
  • Netflix Inc. will reportedly require casts and “Zone A” crew members working on U.S. productions to be vaccinated for coronavirus, becoming the first major studio to mandate vaccinations. The studio will reportedly allow limited exemptions for medical, religious or age reasons, as well as potential exemptions for projects that are currently filming. 
  • Disney will also require vaccinations for all of its “​​salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S.,” according to a statement from the company, which said unvaccinated employees who are currently working on site will have 60 days as of Friday to get the coronavirus vaccine.  
  • Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal saw adjusted earnings climb 13 percent in the second quarter, even with a $363 million Peacock-related loss, with the service now hitting 54 million sign-ups, up from 42 million in April, and more than 20 million monthly users, which the company said was due to the premiere of both “The Boss Baby: Family Business” and “Dr. Death,” as well as the start of the Olympics. Revenue for NBCU’s studios unit climbed 8.4 percent to $2.2 billion, which the company attributed to an increase in theatrical revenue, while theme park revenue increased to $1.1 billion.
Stat of the Week


This is the share of Gen Zers who said they plan to go to the movies more often following the pandemic

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