Don’t look now, but that dusty, deserted, possibly haunted multiplex near you may be getting set to open again.
According to Entertainment Weekly, AMC is still on target to open about 100 of its theaters this week. Regal hopes to do so, as well. Comscore—the firm that tracks box-office numbers—is planning to resume its work after a months-long hiatus. Meanwhile, Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s interminably delayed would-be “summer” blockbuster, may indeed actually hit theaters soon. It’ll open in Canada Aug. 27, followed by the United States Sept. 3.
Now, this is clearly no rush to normalcy here. Only a fraction of the United States’ 5,833 theaters will be opening this week. (AMC’s planned 100-theater opening represents about of quarter of the chain’s holdings in the United States.) And the theaters that will open will be … well, quite roomy. People will be sitting pretty far apart and will, of course, have to wear masks.
“It feels like what could be described as a slow relaunch of movie theaters, with some titles that are brand new,” Paul Dergarabedian, a senior box office analyst at Comscore, told Entertainment Weekly. “It is going to take some time to get ramped fully back up. To expect this burst of a huge opening weekend with reduced capacity would be misguided. That being said, maybe movies will have legs again. Maybe long-term playability is really where it’s at right now.”
But these openings coincide with another potential bombshell: The live-action version of Mulan being pushed to Disney+. Cost to rent? Thirty bucks. And while Disney insists that Mulan doesn’t represent a change in movie strategy—Disney’s Chief Executive Bob Chapek called it a “one off” during a recent interview—some wonder whether it might speed an already ongoing move to release films on streaming services or via premium video-on-demand (PVOD), rather than releasing them first in theaters. While films on PVOD don’t make nearly as much raw cash as those given a wide release, the percentage of that money that stays with the studios is quite a bit more, which might make for a tempting proposition for some.
So with all that, I’ve got a question for you: Are you ready to go back to the movies? Like, see a film in an honest-to-goodness theater? Would you feel comfortable there? Would you be comfortable taking or sending your children to a movie at the local multiplex? Or would you rather stay home?