Theaters are gearing up to reopen their doors next month but just how willing will people be to head back to the movies? A new study suggests that nearly half of Americans plan to avoid them, at least for now. To what degree this impacts the box office remains to be seen, but that is a potentially large percentage of business being taken off the table right off the bat.
The information comes from a study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Self Financial. It found that 49 percent of Americans will be cautious of movie theaters. The studio focused on which industries will be impacted when they reopen, based on how willing or unwilling people will be to visit those businesses. Public transportation came in on top with 52 percent saying they would avoid it, with bars and restaurants rounding out the top three at 47 percent. Just because the economy is reopening doesn't mean that people will simply return to normal and that could be an issue for the movie industry as a whole.
AMC, Regal and Cinemark, the three largest chains in the U.S., are set to reopen in July. In many ways, they were already fighting an uphill battle as new measures had to be put in place to try and ensure guest safety, such as increased sanitation, reduced auditorium capacity and online ordering of concessions. But all three chains recently faced a great deal of backlash when it was revealed that they wouldn't require guests to wear masks. AMC and Regal quickly reversed their decisions, but Cinemark has yet to weigh in. The Alamo Drafthouse has also said that its theaters will require masks.
The other issue to overcome in the early days will be a lack of new product to show. Some smaller movies such as Russel Crowe's Unhinged will be testing the waters to see how willing audiences will be to head back to theaters. The first major releases will be Disney's Mulan on July 24 and Christopher Nolan's latest Tenet on July 31. These will be huge tests for the industry as a whole, but it won't be like a typical summer. There won't be a flood of new movies coming down the pipeline each week, as many titles have been pushed back to much later in the year, if not well into 2021.
What is particularly tricky is that big movies need big numbers at the box office to justify their existence. That means studios need movie theaters and those theaters need a lot of meat in seats. So, even though the industry is getting ready to reopen, there are a lot of unknowns and studios may have to roll the dice a bit in the early days to see how this is all going to shake out. This news was previously reported by Comicbook.com.