Major US cinema chains waiting for summer to reopen
Major U.S. movie theaters don’t plan on reopening until the summer, despite Georgia authorizing cinemas to resume screenings on Monday, and Texas planning to follow suit.
New operating rules in Georgia require movie theaters to spread groups of spectators at least six feet (two meters) apart and to clean seats between each screening.
In Texas, which plans to reopen theaters in four days, governor Greg Abbott has set a capacity limit of 25% for each individual theater.
During a presentation to investors in mid-April, the third-largest U.S. cinema chain, Cinemark, said its capacity limit was between 20 and 30%, noting the chain “can operate very profitably while maintaining social distancing.”
In the same presentation, Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi said the chain was aiming to reopen near the end of July.
Cinemark’s goal is to ensure that measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are in place, while also waiting for the release of a big-budget film to encourage the public to return.
The cinema chain has thus set its sights on “Tenet”, the new film by director Christopher Nolan, known for “Dunkirk” (2017) and “Inception” (2010).
“Tenet” is due for a U.S. release on July 17.
Cinemark is also looking at the release the following weekend (July 24) of “Mulan”, the live-action version of Disney’s animated film.
The leading U.S. cinema chain, AMC, said Friday that it plans to reopen its theaters “in the weeks ahead of these new blockbusters,” but added it “would be wise to do so only directly in advance” of the films’ release.
The president of the Georgia Theatre Company, Bo Chambliss, which has 22 theaters in the southern U.S. state, told local news site News4Jax on Sunday that he would do the same.
Regal, the second-largest US cinema chain, told AFP on Monday that it had not yet decided on a reopening date.
“In order to open our theaters, at first we will need to ensure the safety of our guests and employees,” a spokesperson said.
Additionally, “we are working closely with our studio partners on when they will make their movies available.” NVG
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