In some good news for the movie business, France is reopening its movie theaters next month. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in a televised address to the nation. This is a bit earlier than had been previously expected, as French Culture Minister Franck Riester recently indicated that cinemas in the country were shooting to open their doors again on July 1. That has now been bumped up to June 22.
While there are still many questions regarding how France will handle the reopening, Edouard Philippe said that social distancing measures will be in place. Since movies are typically scheduled to open on Wednesdays in France, theaters will effectively be opening their doors on June 24, even though the government has cleared them to open on June 22. Restaurants, bars and gardens will also be opening back up on June 2. Philippe had this to say.
"All the measures that we've announced will be re-evaluated at the end of June, or more precisely, before June 20th, the date of our next meeting."
France is home to more than 2,000 movie theaters, totaling more than 6,000 screens. Theaters in the country have been shut down since mid-March. Several new movies are scheduled to hit theaters in July, including Christopher Nolan's Tenet, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run and Disney's Mulan. While those theaters alone won't be enough to ensure these movies keep their current release dates, it is a promising start. Edouard Philippe also expressed gratitude to the nation's citizens in his speech.
"We are better than where we hoped to be. This good news is not the fruit of a miracle, it's the result of hard work... your vigor and civic-mindedness."
Theaters all around the world have been closed for months, effectively shutting down the global box office. This has presented a major challenge for the industry, as only a small percentage of theaters, as well as drive-ins around the U.S., have remained open. Several studios, most notably Universal Pictures, have experimented with premium VOD offerings to help generate revenue during the shutdown. Trolls World Tour did well enough to encourage Universal to keep the practice going in the future, which has ruffled feathers with major theater chains such as AMC and Regal.
Theaters in the U.S. are hoping to open again sometime in July. The chains have been working with public health officials and the National Association of Theater Owners to figure out how to do so safely. It's expected that auditorium capacity will be heavily limited, with theaters adopting intense sanitation measures as well. It's expected that older classics will be shown at a reduced price at first while theaters wait for new movies to be released. What remains to be seen is how many people will return once theaters are open again. We'll be sure to keep you posted as the situation develops. This news was previously reported by The Wrap.