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When are movie theaters reopening? Due to the coronavirus pandemic and mandatory business closures, movie theaters throughout North America have had their doors closed for the last several months. New Hollywood movie releases were either delayed, cancelled or pushed directly to streaming services such as Disney+ or Netflix. With uncertainty surrounding how long the lockdown will continue, many film releases have been pushed back to the end of this year or into next year.
The closing of theaters was essential to combating the spread of COVID-19, as a packed movie theater would lead to easy spread of the virus. However, these months-long periods without business has meant disaster for even the biggest theater chains. AMC Theatres, the biggest and most prolific theater chain in the world, revealed that it was experiencing significant financial difficulty. According to CNN Business, AMC had “substantial doubt” that they could remain afloat without any substantial revenue. The theater chain estimated losses of up to $2.4 billion within the first quarter of the year. While a tentative reopening was planned for July 30th, CNN Business reports that the date was once again pushed back indefinitely as Hollywood blockbusters continue to be delayed. Without huge films to bring audiences to the theater, it makes no financial sense for theaters to open yet.
Movie Theaters reopening – Not yet. But some small-town ones are showing old classics.
Despite doubts about whether theaters can come out of this pandemic unscathed, North American theaters are preparing to reopen very soon after nearly three months of closures. The theater chain Cinemark, which has locations throughout North and South America, has already begun the process of gradually reopening their theaters. The Texas-based theaters’ chain has already reopened eight cinemas in the state, as well as several in other states such as Florida and Pennsylvania. The Cinemark website contains a theater Reopening Schedule, so film fans can keep track of when a nearby theater may reopen.
Due to the fact that no new releases are ready to premiere, these Cinemark theaters will instead be showing classic films, such as Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and charging a lowered fee of $5 per ticket. However, the theaters are also hosting Private Watch Parties, where up to 20 guests can reserve their own private theater for $99 and select which movie they want to watch. This early opening strategy is likely intended to begin recouping the severe loss of revenue that has resulted from the nearly three-month closures. When new studio releases once again become available, Cinemark will transition back to their regular pricing model.
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Movie Theaters reopening – How will the USA lead?
However, Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi is remaining realistic. Deadline reports that, in a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Zoradi stated that he doesn’t expect things to completely get back to normal until 2022. Zoradi explained, “studios have had to adapt to not being able to do filming and do post-production, they’ve had to move their schedules. Therefore, we’re going to adapt as well.”
In addition to big chains, smaller theaters across the United States have already begun to reopen. The Kentucky Theatre in Lexington, Kentucky had its reopening on June 1st. However, theater manager Fred Mills told WKYT that several safety precautions will be made in order to ensure that patrons and employees practice social distancing. Employees will wear masks, and sometimes be placed behind a shield if they are dealing with concessions. Lines will extend out of the theater in order to accommodate social distancing, and each theater will only be filled to 33% capacity with a row kept empty between each occupied row.
The reopening of North American theaters will reflect the reopening of movie theaters around the world. Deadline reported that the Chinese government would allow movie theaters to begin reopening on July 20th, due to the country’s containment of the virus. Only theaters in and around Beijing will remain closed, due to a number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in that area. Stock drops and lack of revenue have spelled disaster for Chinese cinemas, just like in the Americas, and as the original source of COVID-19 China has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and containment efforts. The reopening of theaters has apparently been planned extensively in China, so there are sure to be sufficient precautions.
Even as cinemas in North America and around the world begin to reopen, a major issue will be a lack of films to show. Many major releases for the summer, including blockbusters like Marvel Studios’ Black Widow and the James Bond flick No Time to Die, were pushed back to the end of the year. With no major releases to draw in customers, it is likely the it will take time for theaters to begin making a profit again.
Movie theaters reopening – Tenet is definitely coming to theaters
However, some projects are still determined to release in theaters as soon as possible, as Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is gearing up to be the first post-quarantine blockbuster. CNN Business reports that the film is seemingly confirmed to be releasing internationally on August 26th, including European and Chinese theaters, before releasing in the United States in September 3rd. The latest trailer for Tenet very deliberately ended with the phrase “coming to theaters”, which serves as a declaration that Nolan’s newest project won’t be released via streaming service. This determination is likely fueled by the cinematography and visual style of Nolan’s films, which are usually complemented by a big screen and audience reactions.
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The coronavirus epidemic has been a long and difficult experience for both movie theaters and their audiences. While everyone is eager to see cinemas reopen, safety precautions must still be taken to avoid the return of the virus. As scheduled reopening dates quickly approach, it remains to be seen what effect this will have on the entertainment industry.
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