It has been a bleak several months for the movie business, but it seems we are slowly starting to crawl out of the hole. Maybe. Some movie theaters have begun to reopen, with chains like Cinemark beginning to get back up and running this month. Now, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) has thrown a big heap of optimism on the fire, suggesting that 90 percent of theaters worldwide could be open in mid-July, which means Christopher Nolan's Tenet may well hit its release date. But this projection comes with some major ifs and caveats.

According to a new report, a NATO representative has said that they expect 90 percent of the global theatrical marketplace to be open by July 17. That ever-important date has been watched closely by the industry in recent weeks as Warner Bros. could be the first studio to pull the trigger on a major release since the widespread theatrical shutdown took place in March. Tenet, the new massive $200 million blockbuster from Christopher Nolan would, based on these numbers, probably have enough theaters open worldwide to justify a release.

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That said, it's not so simple as 90 percent of theaters. For one, theaters that are open are expected to have strict social distancing measures in place, which means reduced capacity in auditoriums. That number is expected to be anywhere between 25 and 50 percent, but in the early days, it will probably be closer to the low side. That will heavily limit the amount of revenue a single showing can generate. But the other, arguably more important factor, is where these theaters are located.

In the U.S., Los Angeles and New York are by far the two most important marketplaces when it comes to box office. At present, there is doubt as to whether or not theaters in those locations, as well as other major cities like San Francisco, will be open. When coupled with the limited capacity in the theaters that are open, that could be enough to delay a huge release like Tenet. Disney also has its live-action remake of Mulan slotted for July 24, with The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run arriving on August 7 and Wonder Woman 1984 a week later on August 14.

But that is assuming these seemingly optimistic projections hold out. A lot can happen between now and then. AMC Theatres, the largest chain in the U.S., recently cast doubt on its ability to stay open in the long term. Cinemark, meanwhile, caused a stir when it was revealed they won't require patrons to wear masks when they reopen. That could discourage quite a few potential moviegoers. And that gets to the biggest unknown factor of all; just how willing will people be when it comes to going to a theater right now? Millions, if not billions, of dollars are riding on that very question. This news comes to us via Business Insider.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott