Cinemark CEO Sees Theater Chains Surviving U.S. Recession, Streaming Wars

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Mark Zoradi

"We continue to believe the box office is driven by the strengths of movies, rather than the ebbs and flows of the economy," Mark Zoradi told an investors conference on Wednesday.

Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi on Wednesday said a possible U.S. recession and escalating streaming wars won't greatly impact the movie exhibition business.

"We continue to believe the box office is driven by the strengths of movies, rather than the ebbs and flows of the economy," the exec told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York City during a session that was webcast. "We don't expect a recession to have a material impact on our business or industry. And any impact from streaming on our business is probably limited," he added.

Zoradi reiterated his long-term view of the exhibition business as one of stability, whatever the changes movie chains face from new technologies and new video viewing habits in the home from Netflix and other new digital alternatives.

"There's no question that the content in the home has never been better. All the streaming services coming are exciting and I think consumers will embrace them," he argued. But Zoradi said the impact of streaming services will be more dramatic on in-home TV viewing than on out-of-home moviegoing. "Even with all the technological changes ... people still want to get out of the house," he asserted.

The CEO added Cinemark isn't worried about Hollywood players like WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal and Disney as they enter the streaming space, possibly shifting blockbuster movies from traditional theatrical releases to their upstart direct-to-consumer offerings. "We haven't seen that so far. Disney has given us no indication of that," he said. "It's in their financial interest to have these movies open big theatrically, and then move down the chain to their streaming services."