Greg Marcus, president and CEO of Milwaukee-based The Marcus Corporation, says revenue projections appear “very positive” for the rest of 2023 as the movie and hotel industries continue to recover from the pandemic.

Marcus Theaters operates screens in 17 states and is the nation’s fourth-largest movie theater chain.

“Last year, our revenues were down 35 percent from pre-pandemic,” Marcus said on WISN’s “UpFront,” which is produced in partnership with “The number of movies released were down 35 percent. What does that tell me? It tells me people want to go if we give them the product.”

The company’s 2022 financial report released earlier this month showed revenue for Marcus Theatres was up 50.3 percent, and attendance increased 47.2 percent from 2021.

Matching national trends, Marcus said the company has raised ticket prices from pre-pandemic levels.

“We’re being cognizant,” Marcus said. “We’re trying not to increase them too much because we want to attract the audiences back, but like everybody else, we’re dealing with inflation. We are in a service business. We are trying to take care of people, and the cost of labor has gone up.”

Marcus said revenue projections also continue to increase for Marcus Hotels & Resorts, which has 16 properties in eight states.

“We are better than pre-pandemic years,” Marcus said. “We had a record year last year. That business is back, and that’s what gives me hope for the theater business, too.”

TikTok’s head of policy communications for the Americas is responding to calls by lawmakers like GOP U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher to ban the popular app nationwide.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, is facing increasing scrutiny on Capitol Hill, including a new bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate backed by Dem Sen. Tammy Baldwin and the White House that would give the Biden administration the power to ban the app in the U.S. over growing national security concerns.

“We have never been asked for nor have we shared U.S. user data with the Chinese government or Chinese Communist Party,” Brooke Oberwetter, TikTok’s head of policy communications for the Americas, told “UpFront.” “What we’re building through ‘Project Texas,’ however, is designed to explicitly address that concern of Rep. Gallagher’s to make sure without a shadow of a doubt there are no back doors in the software, there is no system access, there is no data leakage by which people outside of this new entity, TikTok USDS could gain access to user data.”

When asked directly, Oberwetter said, “I don’t think any company could guarantee beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Chinese government hasn’t accessed their data.”

Gov. Tony Evers and the University of Wisconsin System recently banned TikTok on state government and university system devices.

“I’ll leave it to executive branches to determine what is right for state phone devices that are under their purview,” Oberwetter said. “I don’t necessarily think a lot of those decisions were made based on accurate data or accurate information about TikTok and our company. Most of them seem to be spurred more or less by headlines than any actual credible intelligence about the security of the TikTok platform.”

A delegation from Milwaukee, including Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and representatives from Summerfest and Summerfest Tech, made a pitch for the city this weekend at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

“The music festival is a great thing to talk about to anyone from across the globe, let alone the nation,” Lena DeLaet, sales and Summerfest Tech director, told “UpFront.” “The tech event we do as part of it in its sixth year this year is a really important reason why we’re down here.”

Representatives from Molson Coors, Generac and Wipfli also joined in helping host a reception Friday evening.

“Through our sponsorship at the Midwest House, which is an official South by Southwest venue, they have programming, they have music, we were offered the chance to pitch Milwaukee at another venue down here,” DeLaet said. “And so it made sense to bring together the MMAC, the mayor’s office and some other delegates to figure out the best way to tell the whole story.”

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