At this point one has to wonder if a lot of theaters are going to be able to make it to late July, as at this time they’re already taking a huge hit and another two and a half months could very well cripple a good number of them. The smaller theaters might be gone by then and even a couple of theater chains might be ready to pack it in at that point since no money has been flowing in since the shutdown. As Ryan Scott of MovieWeb mentions, even if the theaters do open it’s likely that things won’t pick up that quickly since people are likely to be tentative despite the feelings of being cooped up in the house. Theaters are also going to need to be so much more careful about cleaning, sanitizing, and possibly reducing the number of seats being used to maintain the social distancing that will likely still be in effect, meaning once again, less money. The hope of course is that prices wouldn’t rise and therefore reduce the allure of the theater just a little more since people do want to get back to the theater experience, but they also don’t want to be gouged for every last cent they have just to watch something that might be coming out in the next couple of months anyway.
Plus, as Ryan Scott also mentioned, the downside of opening at all this summer is that there aren’t a whole lot of big budget movies that could bring the people running since the majority of them have been rescheduled for later, and those that still remain aren’t likely to be enough to make up for the time that’s already been lost. At this point the theater option is slowly drifting away as drive-ins are becoming the only theater experience left unless one happens to have a home theater system or a big enough back yard, a sheet, and a projector. Right now the future of theaters is really looking kind of grim, especially if the July opening isn’t going to be as reliable as people are hoping it will be. Yoni Heisler of BPR has more to say on this matter. It’s a tentative idea at the moment, one that a lot of people are hoping will become more concrete by the day since a lot of people are already coming to believe that we might be able to start looking towards the end of having to stay at home all the time. This doesn’t mean that anything else is going to open up unfortunately, but it could mean that theaters will start selling tickets to those that are quick enough to buy them.
Since the coronavirus hit we’ve lost a number of things that we tend to take for granted, not permanently mind you but definitely long enough to be noticed at this point since a lot of people are already bemoaning not being able to congregate with friends and family and are wishing that theaters, bars, restaurants, and other various spots that have been deemed non-essential would open back up. There haven’t been a lot of times when people couldn’t make their way to the theater, which stands as a bastion of entertainment and is one of society’s most prized locations since it offers so much in the way of distractions and comforts that we can get at home for the most part these days but still value since it’s something we grew up with and truly enjoy. It’s easy to think how many of us have sat in the darkened theater watching our favorite heroes and villains go at it on screen, or experiencing a love story or drama that unfolds with each passing minute as we’re held in breathless anticipation, hoping that what we’re thinking will come true on screen and vindicate our reason for being there in the first place. The movie theater is in a sense where we go to imagine, to dream, and to gain the kind of inspiration for life that a lot of people can’t find elsewhere apparently. Maybe it’s part of being a writer, but inspiration could come from a bug crawling up the wall to a rocket going off on the 4th of July, as all of it contributes to a story of some kind. But again, it’s very easy to understand how some folks absolutely need the theater at times, as it is an enjoyable escape from the real world for a couple of hours.
Hopefully by the end of July things will have calmed down and we’ll be able to enjoy the theater again, but if it does happen, don’t be surprised to see older movies being run out first, as it’s going to be a tentative thing that the theaters will be trying, and because there really aren’t a lot of blockbusters left that haven’t been switched to a later date. Sarah Whitten of CNBC has more to say on the topic.