AMC Social Distancing Protocols

Can movie theaters survive the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic? With the fall/winter movie season  effectively out for the count after major studios pushed back their big releases to 2021 and state governments keeping major markets like Los Angeles and New York closed, movie exhibitors are struggling to stay afloat. Studios like Universal have reached a compromise with AMC Theaters by striking a VOD window release, but is that enough to keep theater chains from sinking?

Probably not. For theaters to truly survive, the movie industry may need to go back to the Classic Hollywood model of studios owning stakes in exhibitors. But major studios like Warner Bros. and Universal don’t have any plans to buy out movie theaters any time soon.

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Will Movie Theaters Survive

The fall/winter movie season has just effectively been torpedoed. Today, Disney announced that their big winter 2020 titles Black Widow and West Side Story have been pushed to 2021, while Death on the Nile has moved from October to December 2020. While there are still movies holding onto to their upcoming 2020 dates – No Time to Die from MGM, Wonder Woman 1984 and Dune from Warner Bros. – it sure seems like those release dates will be pushed any day now. Which asks a big question: how do movie theaters survive?

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New Jersey Movie Theaters Lawsuit

Last week, AMC Theatres, Cinemark and Regal Cinemas, along with the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), filed a lawsuit that claimed New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was infringing upon their First Amendment rights by forcing movie theaters to remain closed while churches, libraries and other venues were allowed to reopen. But a federal judge in New Jersey has denied their requests for a restraining order that would have allowed them to reopen. Read More »

california Movie Theaters

California movie theaters could start to re-open as soon as this weekend. Theaters across the country have remained shut since coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns were imposed in mid-March, but with studios gearing up to release big-budget tentpoles like Christopher Nolan’s Tenet in theaters by next month, there is pressure on movie theaters to get back into operation. California’s Department of Public Health has proposed new strict guidelines that could begin the re-opening of California theaters at 25% capacity by June 12.

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movie theaters around the world

The movie theater situation in America is still in a weird, uncertain place – will they re-open in time for Tenet in July? – but around the world, things are changing. In the Netherlands, cinemas can re-open on June 1 – with a 30 person limit. Germany’s heavily populated North Rhine-Westphalia is planning to re-open movie theaters on May 30. In Iran, drive-in theaters – once banned – are making a comeback. And down in Australia, they’re also hoping for a July revival.

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reopening movie theaters

How are movie theaters planning to bounce-back from the current coronavirus shutdown? John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) just gave an in-depth interview about the steps being taken to get theaters back on their feet. Task forces are being assembled, several options are being weighed, and a commitment to the theatrical experience is holding firm. And as we’ve already reported, the impending July releases of Tenet and Mulan are the goalposts theaters are looking towards to reopen. But no one can predict the future.

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