In the wake of Cineworld’s decision to shut down its U.K. locations and Regal U.S. cinemas, AMC Theatres and Cinemark have vowed to stay open during a truly trying time for exhibitors.
Cineworld and Regal plan on temporarily shuttering their downs by end of business on Thursday in the wake of another high-profile film, NO TIME TO DIE, shifting its release date from November of this year to April 2021. Since the latest James Bond entry was moved on Friday, DUNE became another tentpole release to vacate the 2020 calendar by moving nearly a year to October 1, 2021. As of now, Pixar’s SOUL and WONDER WOMAN 1984 remain the only major releases on deck in 2020. SOUL hits screens on November 20, 2020, while WONDER WOMAN 1984 plans on opening on Christmas day. The lack of new content prompted Cineworld and Regal to make their decision to close but AMC and Cinemark plan on riding 2020 out an vowing to be there for moviegoers that still want to go to the movies.
More than 80% of AMC’s U.S. circuit is open and an even higher share of the chain’s international theatres across Europe and the Middle East are open with more than 90% of its Odeon Cinemas Group across Europe and 100% of the chain’s locations in the Middle East. In addition, AMC is actively planning to open more of its theatres, especially in New York and California, when authorized to do so by state and county officials. New York and Los Angeles County locations being offline is the main reason why major studios have moved their major releases off the 2020 release slate because they’re the two biggest box office markets in the States. If they’re not open, studios feel as if it will significantly hurt the return on investment for their big-budget films. There are rumors that Los Angeles County could be a few weeks away from reopening its doors but there is no foreseeable plan for New York locations to reopen as New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo stands firm on not reopening cinemas. AMC CEO and President Adam Aron had this to say about their decision to stay open:
“We take great comfort in knowing that literally millions of moviegoers have already visited our theatres. They have done so in part because of our AMC Safe & Clean protocols, developed in consultation with Clorox and faculty of the Harvard University School of Public Health. Our guests are telling us that our theatres have never been cleaner and that they recognize the great effort AMC is making to keep them healthy and safe. Fortunately for AMC, our groundbreaking agreement with Universal Studios announced earlier this summer puts AMC in a position where we can open our theatres when others may feel the need to close. We are fully comfortable showing Universal films in our theaters, even as they implement premium video on demand as we have mutually agreed. This is because AMC will share in premium revenues coming from their early availability in the home.”
Cineworld Boss Mooky Greidinger made it clear that they believe New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was squarely to blame when it came to the financial blow to cinemas in the U.S. Greidinger doesn’t fault the studios, which have been switching up release dates on a weekly basis, leaving a virtually tentpole-deserted calendar for the rest of the year amid the COVID pandemic. Rather, the major factor for the veteran exhibitor is that the studios “don’t see movement in New York.” Greidinger was confused as to why the Governor allows in-restaurant dining, bowling alleys, casinos, and others to reopen, but he will not allow cinemas. In their brief discussions, Greidinger has simply said that “Cinemas are not essential.”
The fact that AMC and Cinemark plan to stay open could mean that their business levels may tick up since Regal will be out of the equation until at least 2021. Regal in the pre-pandemic marketplace fueled 18% of the domestic box office and that share fell to about 13%-14% during the pandemic. It’s very possible that AMC and Cinemark could grab a piece of what Regal is leaving behind and be able to stay afloat through 2020 and into the new year when a plethora of delayed films will begin to reopen.
Do YOU think it’s smart for AMC and Cinemark to remain open?