The fallout of the “No Time to Die” delay has had an absolutely massive effect on the future of the theatrical business. Not only is it likely that other films will move out of 2020 and take their chances in 2021, but Cineworld (parent company of Regal Cinemas and the second-largest theater chain in the world) has also decided to close its doors beginning this week due to the lack of business. And according to a Deadline interview, CEO Mooky Greidinger places the blame on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Huh?
“It is not an easy situation, but we will get through this and I think it is the right decision,” said the CEO. “I believe that people should understand that cinemas all over the world, and for sure in the U.S., are in a way closing down in view of Governor Cuomo’s inflexibility. The Governor allows in-restaurant dining, bowling alleys, casinos and others, but he will not allow cinemas.”
He added, “There is no rationale. We received messages like ‘cinema is not essential’ and we fail to understand why other indoor activities are essential, but cinema excluded.”
Though Greidinger blames Governor Cuomo as a primary reason for the decision to close theaters for the foreseeable future, there are other reasons why Cineworld has shuttered once again. Namely, the performance of “Tenet” and the recent delay of “No Time to Die.”
“We have a lot of busy shows in Central Europe with the local product, but there is no doubt after what happened with ‘Tenet,’ the studios will not release movies without New York,” he said.
Regarding the recent decision to delay Daniel Craig’s final James Bond film, Greidinger said, “As you know, the cost of running the cinemas without movies is very high, but we said internally that we would hold for the coming six weeks (until Bond) and keep the business open for our customers and for our employees. But when the Bond decision arrived, a decision that followed numerous delays of other movies, we had to change the direction, close the cinemas and wait for a situation where the studios will be able to present a solid release schedule. The main thing blocking the studios is that they don’t see movement in New York — and in some other places — but New York is kind of the symbol. Even California is already 50% open.”
The Cineworld CEO did confirm that there is no timetable for when the cinemas will reopen again, however, it’s not out of the question that the doors will be open for “Wonder Woman 1984’s” release this Christmas. However, the company won’t reopen if there’s only one film on the horizon, Cineworld needs a full slate of movies.
“I hope it will be sooner rather than later, but we need to have a solid lineup of releases and this will again have to do mainly with the main territories led by New York,” he confirmed.
At the end of the day, clearly, it’s the message of Cineworld that Governor Cuomo is the reason for this closure. While that makes a little bit of sense for the US closures, considering New York (and New York City, in particular) makes up such a huge chunk of the potential box office, it seems odd that Greidinger is minimizing the effect of the “No Time to Die” delay and the lack of strong business for “Tenet.”
Would “Tenet” have made twice as much money with New York open? Probably not. The fact is that “Tenet” is a pretty big bust for Warner Bros. and it would be reductive to just blame one market for that, as it’s not showing as much staying power in locations that are open. In addition, the timing with closing after “No Time to Die” delayed is not coincidental. Clearly, the studios have to shoulder some of the blame for not wanting to offer films for cinemas to support.
And ultimately, the finger has to also point blame at cinemas themselves. They have done a pretty terrible job of getting the message out that CinemaSafe protocols are in place and (apparently) keeping people safe. In addition, the “inflexibility” of cinemas to work with studios with exclusivity windows and any sort of meaningful partnership to ensure films are released is also a big deciding factor.
The fact of the matter is that New York isn’t opening soon. And it’s easy to blame Governor Cuomo. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing.