The slow process of getting back to normal following COVID-19 has begun as businesses across the country are in the early stages of reopening. And this includes movie theaters. Drive-ins and independent cinemas have already reopened, of course, but the next step is major chains.
On Monday, California governor Gavin Newsom announced that effective June 12th, movie theaters and other family entertainment venues can reopen granted they abide by the new social distancing measures in place. One particular note of interest though is that the state is not requiring moviegoers to wear masks. This comes after the news that Cinemark is also allowing patrons to come in without protective face gear. They are, however, enforcing strict safety guidelines to help prevent the spread of the virus.
As for the state’s requirements, a policy is in place which restricts the number of people allowed in each screening. According to the mandates, theaters can only allow occupancy of 25 percent of normal capacities.
According to Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi, despite theaters now reopening, he doesn’t see the cinema experience going back to normal any time soon, saying:
“The reality is I don’t think we’re going to be able to get into a full-on rhythm again of product cycles and all that we had prior to COVID-19 until 2022,” he said last week. “That’s more production-related than our operation-related because as studios have had to adapt to not being able to do filming and do post-production, they’ve had to move their schedules. Therefore, we’re going to adapt as well.”
The entire industry essentially shut down in March, with many high-profile productions placed on hold, including Jurassic World: Dominion and The Matrix 4. So, while many movies already in the can are seeing a delay in release, the ones still in the process of being made jeopardize future earnings of the major theater chains. AMC, for one, doubts they can stay in business following such a long shutdown.
Film and television productions are also in the process of reopening with the same safety measures, but unfortunately, it may prove to be too late for some of the theater companies.