Updated, previous EXCLUSIVE: The California Department of Public Health has issued guidelines tonight that would allow movie theaters to reopen as soon as Friday, June 12. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has yet to comment on this current easing of COVID-19 restrictions, but the news provides the industry with a semblance of a summer season.
The news comes as a relief to exhibitors, which have been closed down since mid-March, and studios as well which have held back on expensive event movies. Warner Bros.’ Christopher Nolan movie Tenet is the hopeful bullseye to bring sheltered moviegoers back on July 17, but the studio will need a majority of the world’s markets to go with that title. Nonetheless, having Los Angeles open helps considerably. Prior to Tenet, Solstice Studios is set to open the Russell Crowe road rage movie Unhinged on July 1 to assist movie theaters in their return to order.
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Tomorrow AMC will be holding their earnings call, so we’re apt to hear when they’ll reopen in California. We also understand Arclight Cinemas won’t be among the immediate bunch to reopen on Friday. On Cinemark’s earnings call last week, CEO Mark Zoradi said that the chain would have a phased reopening between June 19 and July 10. Cinemark has local multiplexes in Baldwin Hills, North Hollywood, and near LAX at the Howard Hughes Center.
Some of the “additional considerations for movie theaters” according to tonight’s CDPH publication are:
–limiting the number of attendees in the theater to 25% or 100, whichever is fewer.
–implementing a reservation system so that moviegoers and arrive at staggered times
–Patrons should wear face masks when not eating or drinking.
–Ushers should assist with social distancing and directing entrance and exit traffic.
–Consider using disposable or washable seat covers on porous surfaces that are difficult to clean.
–Reconfigure parking lots to limit congregation points and ensure proper spacing (closing every other space).
Drive-In theaters were recently given the go-ahead to reopen in the Golden state, venues such as the Mission Tiki in Monclair, the Roadium in Torrance, and the Paramount in Paramount, CA.
As with the proposed guidelines to reopen film and television productions, reopening cinemas does also have the hurdle of public health to cover first. Specifically, that confirmed cases of the coronavirus and deaths from the respiratory illness continue to rise in Los Angeles county and hospitalizations are also going up.
We hear a similar process is underway over in New York State too, but it might be several more weeks before the doors are truly open on cinemas over there.
Deadline reached out to Gov. Newsom’s office, but has received no response.
Last weekend, industry estimates counted about 700 movie theaters open nationwide, with drive-ins repping 43% of that number. Many catalog titles from earlier in the year, such as The Invisible Man and Bad Boys for Life remain in play as well as indie genre titles such as IFC’s The Wretched, which clocked past $1.1M in its 6th weekend, and Quiver Distribution’s Kevin James movie Becky opening to $178K at 42 locations.