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Movie Theatres Are Back: But is it Worth the Showtime Yet?

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The coronavirus outbreak has impacted every facet of life so far, and the movie industry is no exception. Over the past few months, the movie theatre business has been hit hard by the tough operating landscape created by the ongoing pandemic. However, in a bid to get the industry back on track after five-months of lockdown, big movie theatre chains like AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. (AMC - Free Report) , Cinemark Holdings (CNK - Free Report) and Marcus Corporation (MCS - Free Report) to name a few began to reopen for public viewing with enhanced health and safety protocols in place.

The release of Christopher Nolan’s $200-million worth big-ticket film Tenet was a huge acid test for the cinema industry. It was expected to drive moviegoers back to the halls. Although the film garnered international acclaim, its lackluster box-office performance on the domestic front showcases the flagging fortunes of movie business. In the United States, Tenet’s box-office collection in terms of cumulative ticket sales was $36.1 million. In comparison, the film notched up $203 million globally, taking its worldwide total to $239.1 million.

The disappointing domestic collection makes it palpable that audiences are still apprehensive about going to the theatres for watching movies as the auditoriums are not really conducive to social distancing. Per a recent survey conducted by the global data intelligence company Morning Consult, only 22% consumers find it comfortable to return to the cinemas, even with big-budget flicks. 

Thanks to the waning ticket sales, many significant movie releases got postponed. For instance, the release of Wonder Woman 1984 is deferred to the Christmas Day from its earlier scheduled date in October. With Disney’s Marvel blockbuster Black Widow debut being pushed to May 2021, the next big releases are slated for a November release. MGM’s No Time to Die and Disney’s Pixar film Soul are supposed to hit the screens then.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged the trend of releasing several movies including Hamilton, Trolls World Tour and Greyhound on the streaming services or the online rental platforms, which were otherwise planned for a theatrical release. In fact, Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) , Disney’s (DIS - Free Report) Disney+ and Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) , which currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), and a host of other streaming services completely disrupted the theatre space as it is no longer necessary to unveil a movie at the theatres.

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In a nutshell, the much-awaited return of the cinemas from a temporal setback may not be all that hunky-dory. Theatre chains will have to win back their loyal crowds of consumers by strongly ensuring them an ambience of safety and cleanliness. AMC’s set of health and safety mandates including capping theatre capacity, ventilation system upgrades and the need for wearing masks, aim at offering a secure entertainment experience. Nevertheless, with the spike in coronavirus cases across the United States, the big question that crops up in the mind is whether it’s essential to venture out for movies during a pandemic.


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