Many Movie Theaters Won’t ‘Feasibly’ Be Able to Reopen When Early States Want, NATO Says

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp gave the green light to begin reopening movie theaters and other businesses next week

Last Updated: April 22, 2020 @ 10:35 AM

The National Association of Theatre Owners said on Wednesday that despite some state’s calls to reopen businesses to the public and that movie theaters likely won’t be able to get back up and running when they want.

“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. 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,” NATO spokesman Patrick Corcoran said in a statement. “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.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp recently gave the green light for movie theaters and other businesses to begin reopening next week.

In some states, there have been calls and protests to “reopen the economy,” and do away with state-mandated stay at home orders, meant to promote social distancing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Opponents of the measures have argued that they’re not worth the severe economic fallout — unemployment has hit record levels and companies across industries are at risk of collapse — that has come as a result.

National chains such as Cinemark and AMC theaters, both of which have been grossly impacted by the shutdowns, have previously said they plan to begin reopening theaters and scaling operations in July.

Cinemark and AMC have both taken drastic measures in the hope that their businesses will be able to survive and recover from the pandemic. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Cinemark said it had laid off more than 17,500 hourly employees and furloughed 50% of its corporate employees at 20% of their salary.

The exhibitor also issued $250 million worth of debt securities for general corporate purposes and to increase liquidity, in an attempt to buoy the business. AMC last week, announced plans to raise $500 million in a new debt offering, as the highly leveraged company has found itself in an even more precarious state than its peers.

Cinema’s surely have plenty of financial incentive to resume operations as soon as possible, however, there are a number of outsized factors and concerns.

For one, studios have pushed most of their major releases until deep into the summer, and further. Warner Bros. is planning to release its Christopher Nolan blockbuster “Tenet” July 17, which would be followed by Disney’s “Mulan,” a new “Spongebob” film and “Wonder Woman 1984,” the sequel to Warner Bros. hit 2017 superhero flick.

Then there’s safety concerns and the consideration that consumers may not be in a rush to fill up seats.

The fear of a new wave of COVID-19 infections because of early reopenings is still prevalent among many local leaders. Albany, Georgia Mayor Bo Dorough told CNN on Tuesday that Kemp made the “wrong decision,” warning that many businesses are either unprepared or unable to adhere to social distancing protocol.