Oct 6, 2020 - Economy

Movie industry in shambles for foreseeable future

Illustration of a bag of popcorn wearing a medical mask

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Any hope that blockbuster hits would return to the big screen this year have been shattered in the past week.

Driving the news: Cineworld, the parent company of Regal Cinemas, on Monday said it would be temporarily closing all of its 663 theaters in the U.S. and the U.K. In doing so, it cited that movie studios weren't sending enough of its biggest movies to theaters to lure consumers. More movie delays announced Monday showcase their point.

Details: Warner Bros. on Monday said that its highly-anticipated film "Dune" would now be delayed in its theatrical debut until 2021.

  • Later that night, it was reported that Warner Bros. would push the theatrical release date for "The Batman," from 2021 to 2022, so that the release date would not coincide with the new release date for "Dune."
  • It also said it would delay other movies like "Flash," and "Shazam 2."
  • Regal's notice came three days after MGM announced it was pushing back the release date for the second time of the latest James Bond film to April 2021.

Be smart: These delays weren't shocking, considering the fact that the studio had already pushed back hits like "Wonder Woman 1984" after "Tenet's" shaky debut.

  • Warner Bros. tested a theatrical debut with its hit film "Tenet" over Labor Day and the results weren't good. It grossed less than $50 million in the U.S. since its debut, less than a quarter of what it's been able to pull in internationally and a tiny fraction of what analysts originally thought it would bring in pre-pandemic.

The big picture: The movie industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Analysts have said that the pandemic could put entire theater chains out of business.

  • Theater chains in August rolled out a joint set of industry-wide safety protocols, but surveys show that until there's a widely-available vaccines, some consumers are nervous about returning to theaters. In response to lackluster attendance, movie studios have delayed the release of their biggest hits.

Bottom line: The movie industry likely won't even begin to begin to bounce back until 2021, when big blockbusters are back on the release schedule. Even then it's likely to face continued closures and delays.

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