Ever since movie theaters reopened, it has been an uphill battle for exhibitors as they do what they can to stay afloat during the global pandemic. What these exhibitors need is content and with many huge releases making a jump to other dates after 2020, many theater locations are moving towards reduced hours and some are even shutting their doors for multiple days during the week.
Many exhibitors, including AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas, and Cinemark, the country’s three largest chains, are beginning to limit the number of showtimes, as are scores of other chains and independent houses in order to reduce costs. Other locations, including Cinemark and Marcus Theatres, are going further and closing a small number of their cinemas on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. About 15 or so Marcus theaters and a dozen or so Cinemark sites in smaller or relatively quiet markets have been impacted. Whether other companies follow suit remains to be seen. A Cinemark spokesman had this to say about the reduced hours:
“Cinemark’s reopening plan was thoughtfully and strategically designed with multiple contingencies in place to ensure we are able to be nimble and react as needed to the ever-changing environment. That said, we will evaluate opportunities to align with demand, including reducing operating hours while we await new studio content to encourage theatrical moviegoing.”
The biggest dilemma for exhibitors right now is the lack of new content. There is nothing new hitting screens until November 20, 2020, when NO TIME TO DIE and Pixar’s SOUL attempt to brave the new box office climate. Theaters reopened where they were allowed in time for Christopher Nolan‘s TENET, which opened over Labor Day weekend. However, without New York and Los Angeles in play, the $200 million event film has struggled, grossing $41 million domestically through September 27, 2020. Exhibitors had hoped that MULAN would follow TENET, but that tentpole was sent straight to Disney+ at a premium price in the U.S. over the Labor Day frame and it’s a move that reportedly paid off for the Mouse House. Since these release changes, WONDER WOMAN 1984 vacated its October 2, 2020, date and shifted to Christmas Day while Marvel’s BLACK WIDOW was moved off of November 6, 2020, to May 2021.
According to Comscore, there were 3,453 out of roughly 6,000 North American theaters back in operation over the weekend of September 18-20, as more jurisdictions allowed moviegoing. As of now, that number has been reduced to 3,350. Some exhibitors are optimistic that cinemas in Los Angeles may be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks with the same going for New York City. These two locations make up the two biggest box office markets in the States and having them open will definitely give the box office a boost.
Do YOU think 2020 moviegoing is a lost cause at this point? How have YOU movie theater experiences been since they reopened?