Regal Cinemas, the second-largest theater chain in the U.S., has pushed back its planned reopening date. Cineworld, the chain's parent company, will now open its theaters on July 31. This represents a three-week delay, as the chain was previously set to reopen its doors on July 10. Cineworld will also open its theaters in the U.K. and Ireland at the end of July.
This comes after AMC and Cinemark similarly postponed their previously announced reopening plans. Most theaters in the U.S. have been closed since mid-March and July has long been viewed as the month when the exhibition business will try to get back on its feet. Cineworld had this to say about the decision in a statement.
"In line with recent changes to upcoming film release dates, we have made the decision to move our re-opening date to 31st July. We hope that we will be able to re-open the doors of all Cineworld cinemas across the U.K. and Ireland at that time, subject to U.K. government restrictions. With the on-going pandemic, this new date remains subject to final confirmation. We know how much you've been missing the cinema and we are excited to welcome you back to Cineworld soon! With great films ahead, including Mulan, Tenet, A Quiet Place Part II, Wonder Woman 1984 and many more."
The major theater chains will, at first, show a lineup of old classics and blockbusters to get meat in seats. This is largely because there will be no new movies to show at first. Christopher Nolan's Tenet and Disney's live-action Mulan remake are set to be the first major releases to arrive. Recently, both movies had their dates pushed back, which prompted Regal, AMC and Cinemark to delay their reopening.
All of the chains have implemented strict measures to try and make things as safe as possible. This includes reduced auditorium capacity, extra sanitation between screenings, online ordering of tickets and concessions, as well as mask requirements. Initially, the companies were only going to require employees to wear masks, while merely encouraging visitors to do the same. Following intense online backlash, Regal, AMC and Cinemark all reversed course on the issue. All customers will be required to wear masks unless they are eating or drinking.
During the shutdown, billions in box office revenue has been sacrificed, which has hurt both studios and theater chains alike. What remains to be seen is how robust the box office will be once the theaters do finally reopen. The reduced auditorium capacity and extra time between screenings will be limiting, but if people are hesitant to head back to the movies, that could further complicate things. Even with options such as premium VOD, studios need theatrical distribution to help justify blockbusters such as Tenet and Mulan. We'll be sure to keep you posted as the situation develops. This news was previously reported by Variety.