EXCLUSIVE: Despite Monday’s good news for the exhibition industry from the California Department of Public Health that the state’s movie theaters can reopen as early as Friday, we’re hearing that many notable chains won’t. That said, we understand that some independently owned cinemas could throw their doors open again.
This has been par for the course for several theaters in states like Georgia and Texas which have eased their COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in recent weeks. Some of the prime reasons to remain shuttered include lack of marquee fare, which doesn’t ramp up until Solstice Studios’ Russell Crowe movie Unhinged on July 1 followed by Warner Bros’ $200M Christopher Nolan movie Tenet on July 17. But movie theaters also need time to prep — i.e., restock concessions and bulk up on safety supplies like face masks, seat covers, anti-bacterial lotions and wipes. A late-June/early-July start for many is still in the cards. In addition, many theaters have paused their leases with landlords.
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Also, while a 30%-50% capacity auditorium level is doable financially for most theater owners, a 25% cap is stretching it for some.
Chains in California we hear aren’t reopening Friday include AMC, Regal, Cinemark (which has outlined a three-phase approach beginning June 19 in Dallas), Alamo Drafthouse, Arclight Cinemas, Laemmle, Cinepolis and Landmark.
Drive-in theaters, which recently were given the go-ahead to reopen in the Golden State, remain in full operation including the Mission Tiki in Montclair, the Roadium in Torrance and the Paramount in Paramount. The Vineland in the City of Industry just reopened Monday.
Nonetheless, according to one exhibition exec consultant, “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.“
Other CDPH guidelines issued to cinemas include separation between cars in parking lots, the availability of staff to coordinate crowds in between screenings and entering/exiting auditoriums, and the wearing of face masks by patrons except when they’re eating and drinking.
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