Right now, cinemas, like most other businesses, are in lockdown. Any form of entertainment that requires people to gather in a single space is on hold as we practice social distancing to flatten the curve so that hospital systems aren’t overwhelmed with new patients. But since we’re impatient and cooped up at home, we can’t help but wonder what the world will look like post-coronavirus. We don’t know how the theater industry will fare, and it’s possible that it could be radically different by the time this crisis is over.
For China’s part, with the country having contained the epidemic, 600-700 theaters have reopened, and they’re using past blockbusters to try and lure audiences back. According to THR, all four of the Avengers movies are set to be re-released in the coming days in the country along with Avatar, Inception, and Interstellar.
THR notes, “As of Wednesday afternoon, there were an estimated 600 to 700 Chinese movie theaters open for business. Many of the theaters were smaller operators with just several screens, located in remote regions of the country that were hit less hard by the epidemic during its peak in February. No nationwide Chinese cinema chains have announced a resumption of business yet, but more screens are switching on by the day.”
So is this what the future holds for American cinemas? Perhaps, although I would argue that cinemas should go even older. The Avengers movies and Avatar are available on Disney+ in America, so viewers might be tired of them. Instead, why not go for older classics like the Back to the Future movies or The Princess Bride? Why not offer audiences classics that they love but may not have had a chance to see on the big screen or haven’t seen in cinemas for a while? Hell, Disney could probably make a killing re-releasing the original Star Wars trilogy if they’re set on theatrically re-releasing movies that are on Disney+. Keep in mind that there’s also a backlog of new releases that have been in a holding pattern like Mulan and A Quiet Place Part II that are ready to go.
For now, the most important thing is to shelter in place, but after this crisis passes, I hope that studios make use of their extensive back catalogues to lure audiences back to theaters.