On Monday, California movie theaters were given the go-ahead to reopen as early as this weekend (June 12). But as Deadline points out, that doesn’t mean the theaters will actually open.
According to the report, all of the theaters operated by AMC, Cinemark (which has its own phased reopening plan beginning on June 19), Regal, Alamo Drafthouse, Arclight Cinemas, Laemmle, Cinepolis, and Landmark will all remain closed on Friday. Obviously, there isn’t anything new to show right now, with the first major wide release being the Russell Crowe road rage thriller Unhinged on July 1, followed (by the grace of Xenu) by Christopher Nolan’s twisty action adventure Tenet on July 16.
There are, of course, other factors as well, including the rehiring and training of employees, restocking of concessions, and the transformation of the theater to a safe, comfortable experience, including seat coverings, hand sanitizer stations, and the like. (It’s unclear how you’re supposed to suck down your bathtub-sized Slurpee and keep your mask on.) The report also states that many of the theaters have to renegotiate their leases, most of which have been paused during this unheard-of pandemic.
One of the key questions is what level of capacity the theaters will be allowed to operate at (it could be as high as 50% or as low as 25%), and how you’re supposed to get to and from the theater with stricter guidelines in terms of how you can park and how close you can be to another vehicle and the coordination of when theaters will be let out/let back in (to minimize congestion, crowds and the risk of exposure).
An exhibition executive is quoted in the report saying, ““The significance of the California opening date and guidelines is that it gives confidence that within a couple of weeks we will likely be allowed 50% and lets Warner Bros proceed with marketing Tenet.“ Well thank god they can proceed with marketing Tenet.
California is obviously taking a more measured, wait-and-see approach to reopening theaters (and pretty much everything else), especially after reports from states that have hastily reopened like Texas reporting a record number of coronavirus cases. But with a number of big new releases on the horizon, including Tenent, Disney‘s Mulan (July 24) and Wonder Woman 1984 (August 12), studios are going to have to make the tough decision of whether or not they’re going forward or holding out for a safer, more stable marketplace.
For a clearer picture of the road ahead, check out our calendar of the movies set for release for the rest of 2020.