New York City Movie Theaters Can Expand Capacity To 33% Next Week

New York City movie theaters are steadily opening back up. Roughly two weeks after the state expanded its vaccine eligibility to all residents, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York City movie theaters can expand their capacity from 25% to 33%, starting next week.

Cuomo on Monday announced new COVID-19 (coronavirus) safety guidelines, which included a capacity expansion for New York City movie theaters, Deadline reports. Theaters were allowed to reopen at a limited capacity of 25% on March 5, and just over a month later, Cuomo has announced that the capacity can increase to 33%. This just after U.S. theaters enjoyed the best box office weekend since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The second largest moviegoing market in the country right behind Los Angeles, New York's reopening has already been a huge boon for the Hollywood box office. Godzilla vs. Kong smashed pandemic box office records, and much of its success is credited to the reopening of the major movie markets of Los Angeles and New York, which represent the largest moviegoing markets in the U.S. And with the summer movie season going full steam ahead, all eyes are on LA and New York to raise the movie theater capacities in time for the big summer movie releases. New York's chapter of the National Association of Theater Owners said it is calling on Cuomo to raise the limit to 50% by Memorial Day and 75% by July 4, in time for the rollouts of tentpoles like CruellaA Quiet Place 2F9 and Black Widow, per Deadline.

It's great news for exhibitors, who have struggled immensely during the pandemic. While many theaters in the city were able to reopen in early March, some (namely, the smaller theaters that don't belong to a chain) opted to remain shuttered, fearing that they would not be profitable enough to resume operations with the strict restrictions and New York's notoriously high rent, per Variety.

And while things are certainly looking up for the movie business, New York's cautious approach is not without its reasons. As of last week, nearly 1 in 4 New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, according to Cuomo, with about 37% of New Yorkers having received at least one dose of the vaccine. New York's COVID-19 infection is also down to 2.94%, the lowest it has been since last November, while total hospitalizations stand at 3,783. But we're still a while away from achieving the herd immunity that can be afforded by vaccinating the majority of the population.

At the press conference, Cuomo also announced that museums and zoos can move up to 50% capacity. And starting May 19, large indoor arenas can increase their capacity to 25%, in a move Cuomo signaled would tie in to the start of the NBA playoffs next month.