The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every part of life since worldwide quarantines were ordered last spring. The entertainment industry and theaters were hit particularly hard through major film delays, closings and increased safety protocols. However, things may be looking up, as one of the largest theatrical markets in the country will be able to open back up again.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that theaters will be able to open at a reduced capacity starting March 5th, 2020. The New York Times Albany bureau chief, Jesse McKinley, first tweeted the news earlier today:
In the press briefing, it was revealed that New York City theaters will once again open their doors, so long as they adhere to the new safety protocols. Theaters will have a maximum capacity of 25%, i.e. up to fifty people. While the exact rollout across the city remains unclear, the news is surely a relief for struggling chains across the city and ultimately the rest of the country.
New York was hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and NYC theaters haven’t been able to open their doors since a closure order was put into place last March. The news comes after major delays across the entire entertainment industry, with some blockbusters being pushed back more than a year from their original release dates.
While the announcement will only affect New York theaters, those across the country could see it as a promising transition to the new normal. Over the last year, a number of theaters have had to permanently close their doors due to the lack of ticket sales, closure orders or a combination of both.
Since most are unable to visit their local theaters due to the pandemic, streaming services have seen an increased prominence in the world of entertainment. Last December, Warner Bros. made an industry-shattering decision to bring its entire 2021 movie slate to HBO Max and theaters on the same release day. The decision drew ire from some of the industries biggest names, with juggernauts such as Christopher Nolan and Dune director Denis Villeneuve speaking out against the announcement.
A few weeks ago, Disney announced that the studio still plans on releasing its upcoming films, including the highly anticipated Black Widow, in theaters. However Disney executive Bob Chapek noted that their team will be monitoring the situation as we approach the May 7 release date.
While we are still a long way from getting back to packed theaters for the latest MCU flick, the announcement could potentially provide a bit of hope for those of us out there looking for a return to the theater experience. I know that I’m not the only one who is absolutely dying to see something on the big screen, with the giant popcorn in hand.