Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for movie theaters? The coronavirus has shut down theaters across the globe, leaving the future of the theatrical experience up in the air. Now, Cinemark has revealed they have plans to start slowly re-opening their closed theaters starting July 1. But is this a good idea? The coronavirus situation isn’t going to magically go away, as much as we’d all like it to. But Cinemark also finds themselves in financial trouble, having just laid off 17,500 workers and furloughing 50% of its corporate staff.
During a conference call with investors today, Cinemark CFO and COO Sean Gamble revealed that the theater chain is hoping to “ramp up” again by July 1. Employees will be coming back two weeks earlier in June. The plan is to open theaters on a state-by-state basis, and screen “library product,” AKA older movies, since so many new movies have been delayed. That said, they’re hoping for one new title to help matters in July: Tenet, the new film from Christopher Nolan. Per the call:
“We won’t be everything back day 1, but dip our toe approach,’ said [Cinemark executive Sean] Gamble. Cinemark CEO and Board Director Mark Zoradi added there will be two weeks of ‘showing library product, high profile library product’ as the chain expects a slow ramp of attendance. The big blast off anticipated here is the weekend of July 17-19 which is where Warner Bros. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is blasting off.”
Cinemark also claims they can be profitable with “20% to 30% of capacity,” in case audiences aren’t eager to rush out again. They also plan on scaling things by demand, and could be operating with reduced hours and days. This news comes on the heels of the announcement that Cinemark “laid off 17,500 hourly employees and furloughed 50% of its corporate employees at 20% of their salary,” per The Wrap.
So what are we to make of all of this? Will movie theaters really be able to open by July? This is all a big “maybe.” As much as Cinemark might want to claim they’ll be able to start reopening by July 1, it’s not entirely up to them. It all depends on which states are willing to open businesses back up again – and when. Some states might be fine opening movie theaters by July 1, but I imagine others – like New York, perhaps – will be hesitant. The question now is: which theater chains are going to follow Cinemark’s lead here? And will this backfire horribly?
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