Earlier this week, we got word that movie theaters in New York City will reopen for the first time since the pandemic started. This is a big deal since New York City was often cited as one of the reasons why it didn't seem quite worth it for studios to release big movies into theaters because they were specifically missing that and Los Angeles as markets. It seems to be a reason to celebrate that the movie industry might not have to check completely out of 2021, just the first half of it or so because people can't get their collective shit together to wear a stupid mask or social distance. The third biggest theater chain in the country seems optimistic. Mark Zoradi, CEO of major exhibitor Cinemark (via Deadline), has said that they are optimistic for the summer of 2021 in light of these reopenings.
"The last weekend in May, in that traditional beginning of summer, you have Cruella from Disney and you have F9 from Universal and you have Infinite from Paramount," he said. "So, you've got three big movies." The July Fourth weekend, he added, has Minions: The Rise of Gru and Top Gun: Maverick. … We're optimistic that we're going to be able to light up these theaters again come this summer."
The big question seems to be how Cinemark is looking to a post-COVID-19 future. They are one of two theater chains to strike new release window deals with Universal shortening the theatrical window, Warner Bros. is releasing their entire slate as a hybrid release, and Paramount recently announced that they are cutting the theatrical window in half and releasing their movies to streaming after 45 days instead of the usual 90. The world of movies has changed a lot in a year, and Zoradi was asked how they are approaching these new deals.
"We're looking at this as a way for us to look at, 'Do we want to open our theaters up to some of this different content with different, restructured deals depending on the length of the exclusive window?'" Zoradi said. "It potentially has some negative but it potentially has some positive."
Zoradi thinks we're two to three weeks away from Los Angeles reopening as well, but we'll have to see if that actually happens. We have another month or so to see how the vaccine rollout continues and if studios like Disney will keep their theatrical only releases or move them back again. We've already seen some April delays, so it's hard to say what's going to happen. Whatever the case, it seems that Cinemark is optimistic about the future; I wonder what that's like.