Movie theaters can breathe a bit in New York. They will be able to reopen on March 5, almost a year to the day after their administrative closure due to a pandemic, announced New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. The reopening will be done with a maximum gauge of 25% of the usual capacity and a limit of 50 spectators per room, said the governor.
It’s a breath of fresh air for the film industry in the United States, deprived of its two largest markets, Los Angeles and New York. In New York, theaters have been closed since March 17, 2020, by decree of the mayor, Bill de Blasio.
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The decision comes as the number of positive coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in New York City returns to early December 2020 levels, the start of the second peak of the pandemic. New York City is now aligned with the rest of the state, where theaters were allowed to reopen in mid-October.
“An important step”
However, some cinemas in the rest of the state have decided to remain closed, believing that a reopening would not be economically viable. The low tonnage, restrictions on the sale of food and drink, as well as the lack of films likely to attract viewers, have deterred several exhibitors from taking the plunge.
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The release schedule has been shaken up by Hollywood studios which have postponed the arrival of most big budget movies. Disney and Warner have maintained a few titles, but opted for a simultaneous release, such as “Raya and the Last Dragon”, which will arrive in theaters and on the Disney + platform in early March.
For the American Association of Room Owners (NATO), “The reopening [à New York] will give confidence to film distributors to set release dates and keep them […]. It is also an important step in the recovery of an entire industry ”.
No reopening in Los Angeles
In a statement, Adam Aron, CEO of AMC, the largest chain in the United States, announced that the group’s 13 theaters in New York would reopen on March 5. Andrew Elgart, independent owner of three theaters in New York, said he would not reopen ” probably not “ on March 5, although he is studying the possibility of doing so later. It is not ” not sure “ that a restart is profitable under these conditions.
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There are currently no plans to reopen in Los Angeles. In San Francisco, the country’s third market, the authorities authorized the reopening in October 2020, but many operators have chosen to remain closed, deeming the conditions imposed too economically penalizing.