The outlook for movie theaters, and the movie business in general, just got much better. New York City, one of the biggest moviegoing markets in the world, will finally allow theaters to reopen their doors next month. This means that the box office, which has been suffering greatly since March 2020, may finally get a much-needed boost. It also means that upcoming blockbusters have a much better chance of meeting their current release dates.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement on Monday. Movie theaters will be allowed to open again on March 5. It will, however, be under tight restrictions, in terms of capacity and regulations to help ensure the safety of moviegoers. This comes as theaters in the city have been closed for just shy of a year. Here's what Cuomo had to say.
"Movie theaters in New York will be brought in line with the rest of the state: 25% capacity; no more than 50 people per screening; masks; assigned seating; social distancing; staff to control occupancy, traffic and seating to ensure compliance. They need the enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards that DOH has specified."
Many of the delays that major releases have seen in the last year theaters in Los Angeles and New York City were not open. These represent the two biggest markets in the U.S. at the box office. Without them, movies have little chance to succeed. Given the results for titles such as Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984, that logic checks out.The National Association of Theatre Owners praised the state's decision. NATO had this to say about the news in a statement.
"Theater owners are pleased with the announcement that New York City movie theaters will be allowed to safely re-open. Stringent voluntary health and safety protocols have made it possible for cinemas across the country to operate safely and responsibly at higher capacity limits for many months without a single outbreak... being traced to movie theaters."
2021 has largely been absent of major releases, or box office hits, due to ongoing health and safety concerns. However, things are showing signs of improvement. As such, it's possible that movies like Black Widow, F9 and Free Guy, all of which are currently set to arrive in May, will not be delayed further. Several other blockbusters such as No Time to Die, Morbius and Ghostbusters: Afterlife were recently delayed once again by several months.
2019 saw domestic box office receipts total $11.3 billion. That number plummeted in 2020 to just over $2 billion, representing a decline of more than 89 percent from year-to-year. Hollywood has since embraced streaming as the future. Movie theaters can ill-afford further delays in reopening en masse if they hope to be a major part of the industry's future. Warner Bros. releasing all of its movies on HBO Max and in theaters on the same day this year doesn't help. But NYC opening for business, albeit in a limited capacity, certainly does. This news was previously reported by CNBC.