Despite lifted restrictions, theater chains unsure of what comes next

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

In the Mouth of Madness, COVID-19, restrictions

Movie theaters, while not considered to be an essential service, are something that is an intrinsic part of our modern society. It's true. Going to the movies has been quintessentially human since the dawn of the medium. But, in an era where we all have phones and TVs, we don't necessarily need to be sitting in an auditorium until after this pandemic ends.

However, despite warnings from health officials, certain states are relaxing their quarantine and social distancing guidelines, which will allow movie theaters to resume business. This being the case, many theater companies are questioning whether it's actually wise to allow their doors to swing wide. With hundreds of thousands of workers furloughed, and few if any new releases on the horizon for the next several months, theater chains would not have a whole lot to offer when looking to get asses into seats.

It's recently been reported that states like Georgia will ease their COVID-19 shelter-in restrictions as early as this weekend, allowing cinemas to re-open on Monday, April 27, the National Association of Theater Owners issued a statement today.

“While some states and localities are beginning to authorize the opening of movie theaters under certain conditions, the movie theater industry is also a national one. Until the majority of markets in the U.S. are open, and major markets in particular, new wide release movies are unlikely to be available.  As a result, some theaters in some areas that are authorized to open may be able economically to reopen with repertory product;  however, many theaters will not be able to feasibly open,” said NATO in their official statement.

Among the many theater chains that exist throughout North American territories, cinema houses the likes of AMC, Regal, and Cinemark, won't be opening anytime soon. For the moment, AMC has floated an early June re-opening date, while Cinemark is eyeing a July 1st window with regard to allowing patrons into theaters. Meanwhile, Regal has yet to officially say when they plan to open their doors.

“At this time, we have not made a decision when to reopen Regal theatres. We are constantly following the information provided by authorities.  In order to open our theatres, at first we will need to ensure the safety of our guests and employees. At the same time, we are working closely with our studio partners on when they will make their movies available. We will continue to work with both authorities and the studios in order to host our audiences and show them the big blockbusters in a safe environment,” Regal said in a statement sent to Deadline.

With big theater chains continuing the err on the side of caution and adhere to the recommendations issued by health and safety officials, which theaters do you think will re-open in states like Georgia, once their COVID-19 shelter-in restrictions have been lifted? Drive-in locations? Independent cinemas? Even if they do resume business, what films will they have on offer? Will a desire to go to the theater win out over watching movies from the safety of one's own home? Are movie fans ready and willing to risk their health (as well as the safety of others) for a film that isn't considered to be a new release?

Sound off in the comments section below and let us know what you think.

Source: Deadline

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.