Shy restart for US theaters

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New York (AFP)

The United States had its first real cinema comeback weekend with the reopening of the heavyweights of the AMC and Regal theater – but moviegoers have only made a tentative return to a country that continues to record more than 40,000 new cases of coronavirus per day.

Main theater operator AMC reopened 100 theaters last week and plans to open another 300 in the next two weeks, while Regal also opened on Friday but did not release figures.

The country’s third channel, Cinemark, began a gradual reboot on August 14 and ramped up this weekend.

Several large states, primarily California, New York and New Jersey, have not yet authorized the reopening of theaters and have not given a timetable.

During this first test weekend, the North American box office (Canada and United States) crossed the $ 5 million mark for the first time since March 15, taking $ 6.6 million, according to the specialized site Box Office Mojo.

By comparison, under normal circumstances, weekend ticket sales rarely drop below $ 100 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

The first major production to attempt a release after a five-month hiatus was the thriller “Unhinged,” starring Russell Crowe as a frustrated motorist who takes road rage to the limit.

Although it was almost the only one on screen, the feature film had to settle for $ 4 million in North American box office receipts for its second week of release, the first with a large number of theaters (1823 ), according to Box Office Mojo.

“Unhinged” is the first film to gross over $ 1 million in the US and Canada in a single weekend since March.

As a sign of the reluctance of moviegoers to return to a closed room, the specialist firm Exhibitor Relations noted that the top five sites in terms of ticket sales this weekend were all drive-ins, outdoor cinemas where people remain in their vehicle during the screening.

Before the restart, the National Association of Theater Owners had published a health protocol Friday covering 2,600 rooms and 30,000 screens.

In particular, it provides for mandatory face masks, social distancing, except for gatherings, and a functioning ventilation system.

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