Apr 22, 2020 - Health

Theater owners say big movies aren't coming back soon

Box office at Regal South Beach. Photo: Jeff Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images

In response to some state-specific efforts to begin reopening movie theaters as soon as next week, the National Association of Theater Owners said Wednesday that it is unlikely many theaters will be ready to resume so soon.

Why it matters: When it comes to the movie theater industry, the business dynamics aren't ready for a full reopen, and consumer sentiment is likely to keep audiences away from theaters for the foreseeable future. Similar dynamics are expected to play out in other industries.

What they're saying: "While some states and localities are beginning to authorize the opening of movie theaters under certain conditions, the movie theater industry is also a national one," the NATO said in a statement.

  • "Until the majority of markets in the U.S. are open, and major markets in particular, new wide-release movies are unlikely to be available."
  • "As a result, some theaters in some areas that are authorized to open may be able economically to reopen with repertory product; however, many theaters will not be able to feasibly open."

Be smart: Even if theaters were to restart, surveys show consumer sentiment around attending leisure events is still largely behind the federal government's plans to open up.

  • On top of that, movie studios are unlikely to want to distribute their films anytime soon, as it's unlikely they'll be able to pick up big bucks from their cut of theater sales if enough seats cannot be filled.
  • Even if they did, so many theater chains have laid off or furloughed employees at this point, that it will be almost impossible for them to quickly get back up and running without reassessing their workforces and finances.

The big picture: Georgia’s governor said earlier this week that the state will reopen theaters on April 27, as long as they take strict social distancing and safety precautions.

  • Analysts have argued that until there's a vaccine, it's hard to see how movie theaters can go back to operating with business as usual.

Go deeper: What's next for movie theaters as some states eye coronavirus reopening

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