The movie business received some much-needed good news as it was announced that movie theaters in New York City can reopen beginning in March at limited capacity. New York City, along with Los Angeles, is one of the biggest moviegoing markets in the world and it represents a major signal to studios that movie exhibition may finally be going back to normal.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement on Monday that movie theaters in the area would be allowed to open again on March 5, 2021. The reopenings will be under tight restrictions in terms of capacity and regulations to ensure the ongoing safety of the public. The announcement comes as theaters in New York City have been shuttered just shy of a year due to the pandemic. Here is what Governor Cuomo had to say about opening movie theaters in the city once again:
“Movie theaters in New York will be brought in line with the rest of the state: 25% capacity; no more than 50 people per screening; masks; assigned seating; social distancing; staff to control occupancy, traffic and seating to ensure compliance. They need the enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards that DOH has specified.”
Movie studios have delayed many of their major releases in the last year because movie theaters in New York City and Los Angeles hadn’t shown any signs of being on the verge of reopening. The two areas represent the two biggest markets in the U.S. at the box office and, without them, movies have don’t really have a threshold for financial success. We have seen how films like Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 suffered without these markets online which gave many studios pause to move forward with some of their tentpole releases until New York City and Los Angeles became a factor once again. The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) had nothing but praise for New York City’s decision to begin opening their theaters again in the following statement:
“Theater owners are pleased with the announcement that New York City movie theaters will be allowed to safely re-open. Stringent voluntary health and safety protocols have made it possible for cinemas across the country to operate safely and responsibly at higher capacity limits for many months without a single outbreak… being traced to movie theaters.”
There hasn’t been any word on when Los Angeles will open their movie theaters again but COVID-19 numbers are steadily declining in the city and the percentage of ICU beds being used due to the pandemic has also improved. Studios are going to likely still wait for Los Angeles movie theaters to reopen before making any decisions about moving upcoming May releases like Black Widow or Fast & Furious 9 but the news about New York City is a step in the right direction and a signal that those of us who have been without theaters for nearly a year, will finally get to enjoy seeing a movie on the big screen as they should be seen.
Are YOU excited that New York City will be reopening movie theaters again at limited capacity? Do YOU think Los Angeles is close behind?