Yet another Coronavirus related bombshell hit the movie industry this morning, as AMC announced that they’re closing up their theaters during the pandemic. The cinema chain – the largest in the United States with 630 locations – revealed that they are suspending operations for at least six to twelve weeks. The decision was taken to comply with local, state and federal directives intended to ensure the health and safety of moviegoers and their staff. As to exactly when they’re going to reopen? Well, nobody knows.
If AMC’s theaters do indeed remain closed for 12 weeks, that’d mean they’d be shut until June 6th, 2020. In addition, if AMC is closing down for health reasons, it stands to reason that other major theater chains will follow suit (Regal Cinemas already has). This is going to have some pretty big implications for the movie industry and will most likely mean that the remaining blockbusters still sticking to their release dates are going to get postponed.
The most high profile new casualties will likely be Black Widow and Wonder Woman 1984. While both Disney and Warner Bros. will take a big financial hit from delaying these films, releasing them in the current climate is essentially sending them out to die at the box office. This would be a particularly bitter pill to swallow for Wonder Woman fans, as the movie had already been delayed from its original November 1st, 2019 release date.
All of this means that analysts are predicting that 2020 could see the lowest domestic box office in 22 years. I would hope that, with audiences effectively forced to remain at home due to health concerns, the industry could bite the bullet and release some upcoming movies straight-to-digital on their original release dates. Sure, they might have to revise their profits down, but they’re going to have to do that anyway. That they’d pick up some amazing goodwill from bored audiences would be the icing on the cake.