The Majority Of Georgia Movie Theaters Won't Reopen Next Week

Yesterday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp – the same elected official who claimed that he "didn't know" the coronavirus could be spread without symptoms, even though that news had long since become public knowledge – made headlines when he announced he was ignoring the advice of everyone who knows what they're talking about and allowing several businesses to reopen in the Peach State. The list of businesses includes movie theaters, which Kemp said could open on April 27.

But here's the thing: most movie theaters couldn't reopen even if they wanted to, since there are no new movies at the moment. As a result, the majority of Georgia movie theaters will remain closed.

The moment new broke yesterday that Georiga would be permitting movie theaters to open on Monday, April 27, I had my doubts. For one thing, there aren't any new releases for theaters to show. For another, despite what Gov. Brian Kemp says, I had a feeling the majority of movie theater chains would be apprehensive about reopening so soon. I reached out to several theaters, and almost immediately heard back from a representative of Cinemark, who wrote:

As Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi mentioned on our liquidity call last week, Cinemark is currently working toward a mid-summer opening date, contingent upon health and safety regulations, as well as availability of studio content. The first release currently scheduled is Christopher Nolan's Tenet set for July 17.

Regal also replied to me, stating: "For the time being we have no information about Regal being reopened."

Meanwhile, over at Variety, there's even more evidence that the bulk of GA theaters will be remaining closed for the time being. As they point out: "AMC Theaters, Regal Cinemas, Cinemark and other chains have furloughed or laid off almost all employees, and locations across the U.S. have been entirely shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. It would take longer than a week, insiders say, to re-hire staff and then train them in proper safety procedures."

On top of all that, there are legal issues. Say theaters could magically reopen by Monday. And say people did want to flock to them. What happens, then, if those moviegoers end up getting sick? Would the theaters be liable? Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the National Association of Theatre Owners told Variety that "individual movie theater companies, in line with federal, state, and local guidelines, and in cooperation with health officials will decide for themselves when it is appropriate to reopen."

But what of smaller independent theaters? One small theater owner told Variety: "While we've been hurting being closed, this certainly comes as a rather last-minute surprise. While nothing would make me happier than all of this being over and getting the 'all clear,' other than there being political pressure, I haven't seen anything of the sort." The theater owner also added they would be staying closed until at least June – and maybe longer.

Throw all of this in with the simple fact that there are no current release movies – the soonest thing left on the calendar is The Green Knight, which A24 has yet to move off its May 29 release date – and it's pretty clear that despite Governor Kemp's wishes, theaters will likely remain closed in Georgia for the time being.