Remember last month when Cineworld, the parent company behind Regal Cinemas, announced that it would be closing the bulk of its theaters in the US and the UK? At the time, the reason was the fact that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wasn’t opening theaters in the state and it was negatively affecting the entire industry. Well, Cuomo did allow for New York theaters to reopen (outside of NYC, at least), and Regal opened the doors to a handful of cinemas in the state. But today? They’re closing their doors again.
According to Deadline, the remaining Regal Cinemas in the US (a handful in California and New York) are being shut down, as was previously done with the rest of the chain. It would appear that the big reason why theaters are struggling right now isn’t the fact that New York is shut down, but it’s because there just aren’t any movies driving business to cinemas. Outside of “Tenet,” most major studios have pushed their big releases until 2021, with the lone holdout being “Wonder Woman 1984” on Christmas Day, but many are predicting a delay in inevitable.
So, now, every Regal Cinemas location in the US is closed and there’s no reopening in sight. With the holiday season being completely lost and the beginning of 2021 not looking much better, it’s unclear when Regal, AMC, Cinemark, and other major chains will find themselves profitable again. And as for the small-to-mid-sized theaters? Well, they’re doing even worse.
But for once, we aren’t here to just talk about all the terrible things affecting the theatrical business right now. In fact, with the recent announcement that Pfizer is pretty far along on a COVID-19 vaccine that is reportedly 90% effective, one exhibition executive is optimistic. Imax CEO Richard Gelfond told THR the vaccine could be the thing that the film industry needs right now.
“Pfizer said it is a game changer in terms of public health issues. And I think the vaccine is a game changer in terms of the movie industry. No one had a time frame before. The announcement puts bookends on in,” said Gelfond.
Perhaps the announcement of a vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel that people have been waiting for in the film industry. Of course, even with the revelation that a vaccine might be on its way, it’s unclear what timeline they’re working on when it could be released on a mass scale and then there’s still the issue of how many people will actually take it. But for once, these reports about the theatrical release business isn’t all bad news. Just mostly bad.