It's hard to believe that Emagine Theatre opened its Saline movie center less than a year ago. More than just another place to see the newest motion pictures, it feels like this is where you've always gone to fully immerse yourself in total entertainment experiences.
But 2017 closed with an announcement that Walt Disney Company had completed a deal to acquire the film studio business of 21st Century Fox. Some news outlests were quick to begin writing obituaries for movie theatres.
What does that mean for the future of our own Saline luxury theatre? In this first installment of a two-part interview, Emagine Entertainment Chairman Paul Glantz told us.
Saline 12 east: "Analysts have written about the enhanced 'leverage' this deal will give Disney over the theatres that show its films. What does that mean for Emagine in general, and Emagine-Saline in particular?"
Paul Glantz: "We have terrific relationships with all of the major studios. Disney, perhaps more so than others, keenly recognizes the importance of theatrical distribution to their brand and the role it plays in enhancing the long-term value of its intellectual capital franchises.
"Accordingly, I am sanguine that their proposed acquisition of Fox does not present additional risk to exhibitors like Emagine."
Saline 12 east: "It’s been said that this deal will make Disney 'the Wal-Mart of Hollywood.' Saline has a wonderful Wal-Mart. We also have great niche and boutique offerings. How do you feel that a 'Wal-Mart of Hollywood' serves movie patrons?"
Paul Glantz: "Disney management has been brilliant in acquiring intellectual property rights that have propelled the studio’s success. Pixar, Marvel, and LucasFilms all come to mind as representing major acquisitions that have made Disney the number one studio for several years running. When I think of Wal-Mart, I think about everyday low prices or an emphasis on value. I don’t perceive Disney in the same vain.
"I think of Disney as a top quality highly sought-after brand."
Saline 12 east: "This deal has also led to talk of cascading effect, with mergers and consolidations in your end of the business — for example, Cineworld Group of Britain agreeing to buy Regal Entertainment Group for $3.6 billion. Does this help or hurt customers?
"Is Emagine a target?"
Paul Glantz: "I’m not convinced that mergers among theatre chains represent any upside for consumers, per se.
"Emagine is not for sale, though as a businessman, I have to acknowledge that everything is for sale at the right price. We have certainly been approached by prospective suitors. However, we value our independence and, at this point, we are more focused on serving our guests than we are in financial re-engineering or in monetizing the business."
Saline 12 east: "Against this seeming doom-and-gloom for theatre owners, you opened the largest screen in Michigan. Do you know something the analysts and your competitors do not?"
Paul Glantz: "I do. If you give guests a great movie-going experience, they will come.
"You see, it is all based on positioning our business to offer guests something they don’t have at home. That’s why we now sell four different kinds of popcorn and we deliver food to a guest’s chair. That’s also why we invested over $2.0M in our Super EMAX auditorium in Novi. (It is truly a special experience and the guest feedback has been universally glowing.)
"It is ridiculous to whine about changing consumer behavior. My theory is this: Shut up and compete; justify your continued existence.
"Competition is good for consumers and it drives more effective business models."
Part 2 of our exclusive interview with Emagine Entertainment Chairman Paul Glantz will run on The Saline Post next week.