Over the past three months, we’ve been fairly tongue-in-cheek with our insistence that Warner Bros.’ upcoming film, “Tenet,” really is going to dictate the return of cinemas after the COVID-19 pandemic. Obviously, “Tenet” is set to be the first major film to arrive in theaters since March and, as such, is allowing for big cinema chains like AMC, Regal, and Cinemark to reopen their doors and make some money. But even though it often sounds like hyperbole to say Christopher Nolan’s film is going to “save the theatrical experience,” it’s being shown that this isn’t far from the truth, as everything changes in response to the film’s release date being delayed. And this apparently includes the reopening of the world’s largest theater chain, AMC.
According to Deadline, in response to “Tenet” being pushed back from July 31 to August 12, AMC Theatres has decided to delay the big reopening until July from its original plan of July 15. Now, the chain is expected to open 450 locations on the 30th, with the rest of the cinemas coming back shortly thereafter, as they all wait for “Tenet” to arrive.
“We continue to devote extraordinary resources into our plan to operate our theatres with a hyper commitment to the safety and health of our guests and associates, notably in the United States through our new AMC Safe & Clean initiative,” said Adam Aron, AMC CEO. “Our theatre general managers across the U.S. started working full time again today and are back in their theatres gearing up to get their buildings fully ready just a few weeks from now for moviegoers. That happy day, when we can welcome guests back into most of our U.S. theatres, will be Thursday, July 30.”
We’ve seen this chain of events unfold before, with “Tenet” moving dates from July 17 to July 31, which caused the domino effect of a bunch of films delaying (no studio wants to go first) and cinema chains outlining their reopening strategies based on the Nolan film’s date. But now, with yet another delay (and still no guarantee that the August 12 date will stick), we’re seeing more films (“Mulan,” “Bill & Ted 3,” and more) delay with AMC now following suit. Will Regal and Cinemark also delay their reopening in light of this news? It would seem likely.
Of course, it’s not 100% the responsibility of “Tenet” that AMC is making this move. Clearly, the spike in COVID-19 cases around the country (specifically in states where reopening happened early) is also a factor in the chain’s decision to postpone.
The real question that looms over all of this is whether or not August is realistic. And if not, what happens then? If “Tenet” can’t be released during August, will WB still release the film in September, when kids begin school again and $200 million movies don’t normally open? Or is this really kind of a last-ditch effort to get Nolan’s films on screens in 2020? And thus, if “Tenet” is going to be delayed further, how does this affect AMC’s precarious financial situation? We know the chain is already struggling to remain financially viable, with government filings showing that the company is in dire need to reopen and soon. Can AMC survive a summer without movies?
As with everything related to COVID-19 and the “Tenet” release date debacle, only time will tell.