New York City to reopen its theaters for the first time in nearly a year

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will allow New York City theaters to open with a limited audience capacity for the first time in nearly a year.

As part of the restrictions, theaters will only allow a maximum of 50 people to be seated at each screening (restricting capacity to 25 percent). Attendees must wear masks and sit in their assigned seats. Theaters will also have to implement advanced air filtration systems, according to Cuomo. While cinemas outside of New York City have been able to reopen in recent months, the high number of cases in the city has kept people from going. Theaters originally closed due to the pandemic in mid-March 2020.

Allowing New York City theaters to open is a big problem, especially for studios like Disney and Universal, whose executives are probably worried about the timing of the next big releases like Black widow (May 7th) Y F9 (May 28). Ticket prices are much higher in key markets like New York City and Los Angeles (where theaters may not open yet). Additionally, New York and California account for 21.5 percent of all American movie audiences. Not having those theaters open, even with limited capacity and higher ticket revenue, is catastrophic for movies that could potentially bring in a billion dollars in the days leading up to the pandemic.

While industry insiders speculated that Disney might move Black widow to Disney Plus as a Premier Access title and then releasing the film internationally where theater attendance is better, it was also becoming increasingly apparent that Marvel Studios didn’t want to go down that path. Black widow It is a movie with a budget of more than $ 200 million; moving it to Disney Plus, even as a $ 30 Premier Access title, would never generate the same initial revenue that it could get in a pre-pandemic theater.

Without New York City or Los Angeles, Disney probably would have delayed the movie again. But with New York City theaters reopening, even at a quarter full, studio executives are likely to be hopeful that Los Angeles can continue in the coming weeks, and there may be a better chance. of a decent premiere Black widow (well, by pandemic standards). Add a recovering movie theater business in key markets like China, one of Marvel Studios’ most important demographics, and Black widow you could break even, potentially even making a small profit.

The alternative is a situation that the American public saw with Wonder Woman 1984. With a production budget of $ 200 million and an additional tens of millions in marketing budget, the film needed to generate at least a couple hundred million dollars to break even. That was not going to happen in December 2020 with New York City and Los Angeles theaters closed, as well as restricted capacity at theaters in other states.

Warner Bros. decided to move the film to a simultaneous release, releasing it in theaters and on HBO Max in the United States on the same day. In late January, executives at AT&T (Warner Bros. parent company) told analysts that Wonder Woman 1984 boosted a swath of new HBO Max subscribers, increasing the numbers to 17.2 million accumulated activations, more than double the number of activations in the previous quarter of AT&T (8.6 million). The movie ended up making $ 159.9 million, with about 73 percent of that total coming from outside the U.S. For comparison, the former Wonder Woman film made $ 821 million worldwide with about 50 percent coming from the US alone.

It’s also a huge victory for theater owners, whose executives have asked Cuomo and California Governor Gavin Newsom to open theaters in New York City and Los Angeles in recent months. AMC CEO Adam Aron thanked Cuomo when theaters were allowed to open in New York State in October 2020, noting at the time that the company continued to “work closely with state authorities and Locals about the reopening of New York City, which we now look forward to with growing confidence is not far off. “

Still, studio executives and theater owners can’t predict whether people will actually show up to theaters right now. As more vaccines are implemented across the country, people can feel safer being in a theater with strangers while maintaining the proper social distance. For others, however, it may take some time before they are ready to see a stranger six feet away throw popcorn into their mouths or sneeze.

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