Movie Theater Owners Respond To Calls For Reopenings

Muppets inside movie theater

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown everyday life askew, and among the many businesses that have been forced to shut down are movie theaters. Well, in several states, including Georgia and Tennessee, plans are in motion to start easing the restrictions that have been implemented to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus, and that includes getting movie theaters back up and running by Monday, April 27.

NATO (the National Association of Theater Owners) has responded to these initiatives, noting how even if movie theaters in these states reopen, they might not necessarily be able to stay open given the lack of new cinematic offerings. As the organization put it:

While some states and localities are beginning to authorize the opening of movie theaters under certain conditions, the movie theater industry is also a national one. Until the majority of markets in the U.S. are open, and major markets in particular, new wide release movies are unlikely to be available. As a result, some theaters in some areas that are authorized to open may be able economically to reopen with repertory product; however, many theaters will not be able to feasibly open.

That’s a fair point. The effects of COVID-19 started to be felt the film industry in early March when movies like No Time to Die and F9 were pushed back, as well productions like Mission: Impossible 7 had to stop rolling cameras. But as far as theaters go, movies like Bloodshot and The Hunt having to cut their silver screen runs short and shift quickly to VOD was the opening salvo, and there haven’t been any new theatrical releases since then.

So even if a bunch of movie theaters in the United States managed to reopen their doors at the beginning of next week, it’s not like there would be a slate of new movies to offer visitors. Plus, let’s not forget that many of these theaters had to furlough or completely let go of their employees in the weeks following COVID-19 really getting out of hand. Even if enough people were willing to head back to movie theaters as the coronavirus rages on, there’s not enough time to ensure that there will be enough staff members ready to resume operations.

In any case, just because these states want movie theaters to reopen next week doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Case in point, Deadline has confirmed that major theater chains AMC, Regal and Cinemark will not reopen its locations anytime soon. While Regal doesn’t have a reopen date set in stone yet, AMC is eyeing a June relaunch, while Cinemark is aiming for July.

Of course, that still leaves plenty of independent and drive-in theaters, and some are indeed planning to reopen in the coming weeks. Again though, it’s not like they’ll be supplying new movies right off the bat, as the likes of Black Widow, Top Gun: Maverick and much more have been delayed. With that in mind, they could simply turn to older movies to lure people in.

In the meantime, it’s not like there aren’t new movies to watch while we stay indoors. Not only is Netflix still releasing cinematic content like Extraction, but we also saw Trolls: World Tour become a VOD-release, being available to rent for 48 hours. Scoob! is following in those footsteps, although in addition to digitally renting, you’ll also be able to buy the movie for a little extra money.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for all the latest updates on what’s happening with the movie theater business across the nation, and you can also keep track of what movies have been delayed with our comprehensive guide.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.