Cinemark has unveiled its plans to reopen its doors in July. Virtually every movie theater in the U.S. has been closed since mid-march, save for a small number of drive-ins scattered about the country. Now, the nation's third-largest theater chain has revealed how they intend to resume operations this summer, and it will involve showing older movies for a lower price to get people back in the door at first.
Cinemark CFO and COO Sean Gamble made the reveal in a special conference call made with investors and financial analysts. Employees are expected to get back to work in mid-June in preparation for the July reopening. According to Gamble, they won't be opening everything up all at once. Rather, they will be taking it one step at a time. Gamble had this to say about it.
"We won't be everything back day 1, but dip our toe approach."
One of the biggest issues is that most of the major releases that were scheduled to arrive this summer have been delayed to, at the very earliest, late July, with most delayed to the fall, if not 2021 in some cases. Amazingly, Warner Bros. still has Christopher Nolan's latest, Tenet, set to arrive on July 17, and the goal for Cinemark is to be able to show that movie when it arrives as its first big new release.
AMC Theatres, Regal and other chains have yet to unveil their plans, but one would assume that's the goal for them as well, as all of these companies are suffering in a big way due to the shutdown. AMC is on the verge of bankruptcy and Cinemark recently laid off thousands of employees. Cinemark CEO and Board Director Mark Zoradi explained that they will utilize library titles, though no specific movies were named, to help jumpstart things in the beginning.
"We'll charge less when we start to get people back with high profile library product. We'll be able to make deals with studio partners prior to the big tentpoles coming. I don't anticipate we'll charge more for tentpole pictures."
China, similarly, was set to show former blockbusters like Avatar, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Avengers movies to help open their theaters back up. Unfortunately, after a brief moment of cinemas resuming business, they were all abruptly forced to close again, which is how they have remained since. The advantage for Cinemark, as explained by Sean Gamble, is that they can become profitable at 20 to 30 percent levels of occupancy. That's good, because the chain will still have to deal with social distancing orders, meaning that capacity will be reduced heavily in its auditoriums.
But this is still three months away and, as we've seen, the situation at hand is rapidly evolving. A lot could change between now and then. Assuming theaters do reopen around that time, there are many unknowns at play. Will people be willing to gather in public so quickly? Will old movies be enough to get people back out of the house? For now, we have more questions than answers, but this is potentially promising for movie lovers who want to see theaters up and running again. This news was previously reported by Deadline.