Georgia Governor Brian Kemp recently revealed a plan to begin reopening the state's economy in phases following weeks of stay-at-home orders. Part of the initial phase will allow movie theaters to reopen as early as April 27. Be that as it may, it seems most theaters in the state will remain closed, despite the local government allowing them to resume operations.
According to a new report, insiders working in the movie business expect that it would be nearly impossible for major theater chains to open their doors next week for a wide variety of reasons. For one, major chains such as AMC and Cinemark have had to lay off and furlough thousands of employees during the shutdown, which started in mid-March. It would be difficult for them to staff up and get things ready for business on such short notice. And that's assuming these major chains would even want to assume the level of risk that comes along with such a decision.
Kemp's order has been met with scrutiny, as many public health officials feel it might be too soon to begin reopening businesses. Kemp did dictate that movie theaters and other businesses would have to adhere to strict social distancing and sanitation guidelines. Even so, businesses like AMC and other big chains are still weighing the risk. What happens if someone gets sick while going to one of their theaters right now? Are they going to be held responsible?
For now, there are too many unknowns. What we've heard previously is that most major chains are hoping to re-open, in some capacity, starting in late July. More than likely, this will be with older library titles at first, since most major movies, save for Christopher Nolan's Tenet, have been delayed into at least August. A Cinemark spokesperson had this to say.
"Cinemark is currently working toward a mid-summer opening date, contingent upon health and safety regulations, as well as availability of studio content."
Smaller, individual theater operators could choose to remain open. But that also seems like, at best, it would be a very small number next week. Christopher Escobar, owner of the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, had this to say about it in a recent interview.
"While we've been hurting being closed, this certainly comes as a rather last-minute surprise. While nothing would make me happier than all of this being over and getting the 'all clear,' other than there being political pressure, I haven't seen anything of the sort... I'm not a public health expert. I just know I'm not getting an indication from actual public health experts that re-opening is a good idea."
For now, virtually the only theaters in the U.S. that remain open are drive-ins. These old relics have been thriving in recent weeks, as people have been looking for an escape from quarantine. We'll be sure to keep you posted as the situation develops. This news comes to us via Variety.