Cinemas are starting to reopen. Will anyone go?

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AMC, the world’s largest movie theater chain, will reopen more than 100 U.S. venues on Thursday after closing in March. Other big chains like Regal Cinemas and Alamo Drafthouse will also return this weekend, while Cinemark started its gradual reopening last weekend. About 1,400 of the 6,000 sites in North America are currently open, according to Comscore (BUT). (Track how box office sales were achieved on our recovery dashboard.)

It is a monumental moment for theaters and the film industry in general. The coming weeks and months will give Hollywood a sense of the film industry’s ability to bounce back from being ravaged by the coronavirus.

It’s not going to be easy.

Some cool blockbusters

For starters, theaters like AMC won’t have a lot of great movies to show for a few weeks. Christopher Nolan’s thriller “Tenet” won’t hit theaters in the US until September 3, and Disney’s “Mulan” is not on AMC’s release list. It arrives at Disney + on September 4.

Other films like “Unhinged” and “The New Mutants” open earlier, but aren’t exactly well-known titles that moviegoers can’t wait to see.

Until then, theaters are running old movies like “Inception” and “Black Panther” to attract people.

Is it safe?

Getting people back to the movies during a pandemic isn’t all about having movies people want to see. Movie chains need to convince consumers who have become accustomed to watching movies at home and are unsure of safety to sit indoors with strangers for hours on end.

Theaters should convey a feeling of safety and cleanliness.

AMC is asking all guests to wear masks as part of its “Safe & Clean” initiative. It also limits the capacity of movie theaters and improves ventilation systems. It remains to be seen whether these protocols will give moviegoers a strong sense of security.

Paul Degarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, told CNN Business that “it’s up to theaters to make sure they’re so well prepared to create the safest and most attractive environment possible.”

Degarabedian noted that “the sentiment of moviegoers going over the next few weeks must be positive.” This is what “will give theaters the best way to attract and, more importantly, keep customers coming back,” he said.

Canadian theaters have already reopened and are soon showing some of the films coming to the United States – like “Unhinged” – but attendance has been lukewarm.

The competition is fierce and the money is tight

The pandemic has put millions of people out of work, so disposable income is limited for many.

And consumers are at this point used to staying home and watching Netflix (NFLX), Disney +, and a host of other streaming services for a monthly subscription cost that roughly equates to the average cost of a ticket.

“Portfolios are tight right now, and most people have to do a cost-benefit analysis for almost everything in their life,” Dergarabedian said. “While movies have always been a steal compared to other activities outside the home, the price matters. ”

AMC (AMC) made the news last week when it announced that it would sell tickets for just 15 cents on opening day. After that, the channel offers tickets at a lower price than normal for older movie titles.

The big question: is it worth it?

Coronavirus cases are still prevalent across the country, and streaming movies poses a risk as the virus often spreads more easily indoors.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that gyms would reopen in the state later this month, but theaters would remain closed.

“I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of people out there saying, ‘I can’t live without going to the movies.’ But on a relative scale, a movie theater is less essential and presents a high risk, ”Cuomo said. “Cinemas are not at the top of the must-see list. “

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