Could Hollywood Be on the Verge of a Comeback? Only 'Godzilla' Knows for Sure

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Godzilla Vs Kong
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Santa Monica-based movie-ticketing service Atom Tickets has pre-sold more tickets for "Godzilla vs. Kong" than any film since the start of lockdown.

Following a disastrous year for the box office, its performance could be a litmus test for Hollywood and the many theaters that teetered on the brink during the pandemic.


The big-budget action movie from Warner Brothers debuted on HBO Max this week and is hitting the big screen while many schools are on spring break.

"You're afraid to be like, 'It looks like we're almost at the end,' but it feels like we're making a lot of progress," said Atom Tickets co-founder and chairman Matthew Bakal. "The hunger of people going back is pretty palpable."

One big reason for the boost is that more seats are for sale as theaters have increasingly reopened. Several cinemas in Los Angeles opened on March 15th at 25% capacity. That will expand to 50% on Monday. Earlier in the month, theaters began opening at limited capacity in New York City and San Francisco.

These three regions comprise about 20% of the overall domestic market, Bakal said. Partly as a result, "Godzilla vs. Kong" will be playing on more American screens than any pandemic-era film.

"In November the story was, no one was sure what the future holds," he added. "Now it seems pretty clear that the future includes robust moviegoing as we get into this summer."

Another sign of pent-up demand is that outside the U.S., fans have been flocking to the silver screen.

"China, Japan [and] Australia have been booming for moviegoing," Bakal said. "It's like 110-115% of pre-COVID revenue, even at a 70% attendance cap."

Despite the optimism, in certain ways the pandemic likely has irrevocably changed the movie business. The theatrical window – the period when new films play exclusively in cinemas – has continued to erode. Warner Bros. will be debuting its entire 2021 slate on HBO Max at the same time the films hit the big screen, a decision that studio chief Ann Sarnoff described as "temporary." Disney recently announced "Black Widow," its biggest blockbuster since lockdown began, will be available on Disney Plus the same day it hits theaters this summer; the company has not taken a definitive stance on whether that will become the norm.

Many industry insiders have long argued that the window has been overdue for a washing.

The Theatrical Release Window: Will the Changes Last?

"If you're doing 90% of your business in 30 days, it's silly that there isn't an opportunity to see films at home on day 31," former Disney exec Craig Kornblau told dot.LA, when Universal and AMC were publicly feuding over the film studio's decision to debut its "Trolls" sequel on NBCUniversal's Peacock streaming service.

For decades the window has been steadily shrinking. At the beginning of the millennium, major studios generally adhered to a period of 150-200 days, according to the National Association of Theater Owners. Just before the pandemic, that had fallen to a 90-day standard, which now appears set to shrink further – though not quite shut.


"It looks like people are coalescing around a 45-day window," Bakal said, pointing to a string of recent announcements from several studios and theater chains.

"Ninety percent of revenue from theatrical movies are made in those first couple of weekends," he noted. "So as long as there's a solid exclusive window, things should return to relative normalcy."

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Regard Raises $15M for AI-Powered Software That Help Doctors Diagnose Patients

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

Regard Raises $15M for AI-Powered Software That Help Doctors Diagnose Patients
Courtesy of Regard

Culver City-based health care startup Regard, which uses AI-driven software to help physicians accurately diagnose patients, has raised $15.3 million in Series A funding.

Pasadena-based Calibrate Ventures and Colorado-based Foundry Group led the investment in Regard, formerly known as HealthTensor. Other investors that participated in the round include TenOneTen Ventures, Susa Ventures, Brook Byers of Byers Capital and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. The new funding will be used to grow Regard’s team and customer base, the company said in a press release.

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This Week in 'Raises': Regard Secures $15M, MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Second Fund

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

This Week in 'Raises': Regard Secures $15M, MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Second Fund
Image by Joshua Letona

This week in “Raises”: A local healthcare startup secured funding to help grow the team and deploy its software to more physicians and hospitals, while Black-led, seed-stage venture capital firm surpassed its goal for its second fund.

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Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

How Braid Theory Plans to Build the Blue Economy from the Port of LA
Photo courtesy of the Port of Los Angeles.

San Pedro-based Braid Theory is one of the growing number of accelerators in the country looking to grow the so-called blue economy, which spans a range of ocean-related industries and is estimated at $2.5 trillion a year.

The accelerator is accepting online applications until July 18, with its second-ever program kicking off in August.

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