Updated with statement from Alamo: Despite Texas Gov. Greg Abbott permitting movie theaters to re-open on May 1 in his state numbering nearly 30 million, big movies chains like AMC and Cinemark, which is located in Plano, TX, are still eyeing mid-summer re-opening, not only out of safety, but also due to the lack of new, fresh studio content.
Abbott said that cinemas, restaurants, retailers, and malls could operate at a 25% capacity. Cinemark boss Mark Zoradi said in a conference call to analysts two weeks ago that the chain could operate and make money off auditoriums with a 25% and 30% capacity limits. Alas, the problem lies in there’s no new films, evident in Universal taking their June 19 Pete Davidson comedy The King of Staten Island straight to VOD on June 12.
Said a Cinemark spokesperson in response to this afternoon’s news, “Cinemark is continuing to follow the timeline Mark Zoradi discussed on its April 15 liquidity call. The Company is currently working toward a mid-summer opening date, contingent upon health and safety regulations, as well as availability of studio content. The first release currently scheduled is Christopher Nolan’s Tenet set for July 17. It is important to note that the theatrical exhibition’s return to ‘normalcy’ may span multiple months, driven by staggered theatre openings due to government limits, reduced operating hours, lingering social distancing and a ramp up of consumer comfort with public gatherings.”
In response to Georgia’s re-opening of movie theaters today, AMC released a statement on Friday exclaiming ‘No yet’.
“As the largest movie theatre chain in the United States, AMC is strongly committed to bringing movies back to the big screen, safely and responsibly. As we plan our reopening, the health and safety of our guests and associates is our absolute highest priority. To be able to open, we also need a line of sight into a regular schedule of new theatrical blockbusters that get people truly excited about returning to their favorite movie theatres. Those blockbusters are scheduled to return this summer, beginning with Warner Brothers’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan, with many more major titles scheduled immediately thereafter. While we expect to open our theatres in the weeks ahead of these new blockbusters, utilizing creative programming of immensely popular previously released films, we would be wise to do so only directly in advance of the release of major new movie titles. AMC is currently working through every detail required to successfully showcase these exciting new releases in an environment that’s safe and welcoming for moviegoers, and we will share those details as we get closer to the dates when our theatres will reopen.”
Texas-based chain Alamo Drafthouse will also be taking its time to open despite the semi-clear from Abbott.
“Opening safely is a very complex project that involves countless new procedures and equipment, all of which require extensive training. This is something we cannot and will not do casually or quickly. We will not be opening this weekend. But know this, when we do open, we will be providing the safest possible experience for both our staff and our guests and we can’t wait to see you all again!” said an Alamo spokesperson today.
Not re-opening until mid-May in Texas are barber shops, hair salons, bars and gyms; such establishments being part of the next phase of business re-openings.
Sources have told Deadline that the theaters who can risk re-opening financially are those exhibitors who own their own properties. Currently, a number of major exhibitors are re-negotiating, and also getting eases, on their leases and it’s not in their best financial interest to re-open when there’s no new films, and foot traffic is expected to be slow initially. While there’s no new, big titles on the marquee, many theaters are planning to book studio catalog titles, movies they can charge low ticket prices for and reap all the upside of concession monies.