The summer movie season, or what remains of it, is looking grim this month. AMC Theatres is now pushing its planned reopening date back by two weeks to July 30. The world’s largest movie exhibition chain was set to begin a phased set of re-openings across the country on July 15, but with the month’s flagship new releases “Tenet” and “Mulan” now shuffled to August 12 and August 21, respectively, there isn’t going to be enough new product to justify reopening any sooner amid a calendar as constantly shifting as it is dizzying.
At the moment, “Unhinged” starring Russell Crowe and from Solstice Studios is set to kick off the summer movie season on July 31. Don’t hold your breath. Another bit of summer escapist fare, “Broken Hearts Gallery” from Tri-Star and executive-produced by Selena Gomez, was also moved to August 7 on Monday.
According to AMC Theatres, the company expects some 450 of its 600 theaters to be reopened on July 30, and more or less fully operational by early August, in time for the summer’s slim offerings. The struggling chain, which has been hit with well over $2 billion in losses and has been shut down since mid-March, stirred much ado earlier in June when it announced that patrons weren’t required to wear masks in states not mandating face coverings. AMC quickly reversed course given the online response, but also the rising numbers of COVID-19 in the United States. Social distancing at AMC venues will be enforced through the use of directional signs and reminders.
It’s not necessarily good news. Exhibitors are wary about theaters reopening for a variety of reasons, IndieWire’s Tom Brueggemann reports. That includes not only the issue of masks and property distancing in theaters, but also the fragility of the theatrical window at a moment where virtually every studio is pushing its titles to VOD.
There’s also the issue that theaters could close again, too. New York officials have said that even in phase four, theaters still won’t be able to reopen. Los Angeles was given the green-light in early June to reopen on June 12, but the city abruptly put a pin in that, leaving theaters that had planned to open doors hanging.