Movie theaters have a post-quarantine message: Take us back?

Big theater chains have big plans to put butts back in the seats.


April 21, 2020

You probably haven’t seen a positive movie-theater headline since the implosion of MoviePass. But here’s one: Stock prices for Cinemark, AMC, and IMAX have all increased this month, after falling sharply in March.

Cinemark hunkered down and drafted a full-scale plan to get your ass back in the seat this summer. It looks like this:

  • Doors will swing open in some theaters starting July 1.
  • Movie fans will have to sit several seats apart.
  • Hours might be cut short.

In some states, you won’t have to wait ’til summer: Georgia’s governor just announced that theaters can reopen next week.

The industry just wants a ticket out of this

As people ease into new routines, theaters want to play classic films — one industry leader called out “Grease,” “Harry Potter,” and “Back to the Future” reruns. They don’t want “sad or very heavy dramas,” Reuters reported.

They’re also going to whip up some special promotions. During a Potter screening, the chain B&B is considering serving butterbeer to draw uncertain audiences.

These plans are all theoretical until states approve them — movie theaters do not yet have governing authority, unfortunately.

But theaters don’t mind the limited audiences that come with a little in-house social distancing. Cinemark reports that it can butter up profits even when its theaters operate at 10% capacity.

All is not well on the silver screen 

That is not to say movie theaters will be going steady when life returns to normal. AMC is reportedly still shopping around for bankruptcy lawyers. Studios are unloading films like the Issa Rae-led “The Lovebirds” onto Netflix, while others are trying their hand at $19.99 paid rentals for new releases.

Experts are asking: Do studios still need theaters? Universal says that “Trolls” set a straight-to-video record, though it isn’t clear whether the profits were anywhere near the film’s $100-million budget. (Straight-to-video numbers aren’t reported the way box-office figures are.)

Facing months without movie releases, even the Oscars are up in the air — execs are meeting on April 28 to decide whether next year’s ceremony can even happen.

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