Another day, another major blow to the movie theater business. Regal Cinemas, the second-largest theater chain in the U.S., has postponed its planned reopening indefinitely. The company had previously set its reopening date for July 31. However, the chain's website was recently updated, which confirms that they have decided to delay those plans indefinitely. The message on the website's homepage reads as follows.
"Announcement of New Reopening Date Coming Soon."
It has also been confirmed that this message is not referring to previous delays. Originally, Regal had hoped to open on July 10. However, with studios continuously shifting their release calendar, theater chains have had to shuffle their plans as well. Once Christopher Nolan's Tenet and Disney's live-action Mulan remake were postponed until August, Regal announced the shift to July 31. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. recently revealed that Tenet isn't going to arrive as planned and has yet to be given a new release date in the U.S. as such, Regal has postponed its opening plans once again. The third-largest chain, Cinemark just made a similar move.
It is expected that AMC will do the same. The nation's largest chain has been on the verge of bankruptcy for months. Theaters originally closed in the U.S. back in mid-March. Even before the closure, AMC was saddled with tremendous debt, said to be in the $5 billion range. The company recently managed to rework some of its debt to stay afloat for a little while longer. But without being able to safely reopen, it is unclear how long AMC, Regal or Cinemark will be able to hold on without succumbing to bankruptcy. A report in June suggested that theaters were going to lose $30 billion in revenue this year, which represents a 60 percent decline in business.
The problem right now is there is an odd game of chicken going on. Studios like Warner Bros. and Disney can't risk releasing blockbusters such as Tenet or Mulan without a certain level of return at the box office. They both have budgets said to be in the $200 million range. At the same time, chains like Regal need new movies to get people in seats. While the plan is to show older classics and recent hits to drum up some business in the beginning, that likely isn't a sustainable model for these big chains. Drive-ins have had a lot of success during the shutdown, but that is still on a relatively smaller scale.
Once theaters do reopen, it will be with strict safety measures in place. All of the major chains will be requiring customers and employees to wear masks, following online backlash to initial policies that did not require them. Auditorium capacity will also be reduced, which means fewer tickets can be sold for each screening. Additional cleaning and sanitizing will take place as well. We'll be sure to keep you posted as any further updates are provided. For more information regarding the chain's specific reopening policies, you can head on over to RegalMovies.com.