Movie theaters are reopening. We asked an expert if it's safe to go
London (CNN Business)The new James Bond film has been delayed a second time because of the coronavirus and will now be released almost a year behind schedule, delivering another big blow to Hollywood.
MGM, Universal and Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a statement on Friday that “No Time To Die,” the 25th film in the James Bond series, will be delayed until April 2, 2021 “in order to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience.”
“We understand the delay will be disappointing to our fans but we now look forward to sharing No Time To Die next year,” they added.
Its the latest blow to the pandemic-struck movie industry. More than a dozen major films, including “Black Widow,” “Tenet” and “Wonder Woman 1984,” have either been delayed or skipped theaters altogether and gone digital, as in the case of Disney’s “Mulan.”
The new chapter in the lucrative Bond series, which has raked in nearly $5 billion worldwide, was the first major film to be delayed because of the pandemic. It was due to hit US theaters on April 10, but in March its release was pushed back to November 25.
The decision to postpone the film a second time comes as the coronavirus continues to rage across the United States and a second wave of infections also threatens Europe’s fragile recovery. US President Donald Trump now has Covid-19, as do several senior White House aides, introducing even more uncertainty into the upcoming election and discussions about more economic stimulus from Washington.
Movie theaters may not survive
The Motion Picture Association and other industry groups last week urged Congress to prioritize financial assistance for movie theaters. “If the status quo continues, 69% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently, and 66% of theater jobs will be lost,” they said in a letter signed by several Hollywood heavyweights, including James Cameron, Guy Ritchie and Martin Scorsese.
“Tenet,” the Christopher Nolan spy thriller, received a lackluster response from movie goers, as did “Unhinged and “The New Mutants,” signaling that audiences may not be ready to return to cinemas.
In a bid to draw people back, AMC (AMC), the world’s largest movie theater chain, sold tickets for just 15 cents on August 20 when it reopened more than 100 US venues. Most of the company’s 1,000 theaters are now open but at 40% capacity or less.
Box office sales in the United States remain near rock bottom, reaching just $11.3 million on October 1 from a 2020 peak of about $247 million on January 23, according to the CNN Business Recovery Tracker.
AMC has previously expressed “substantial doubt” as to whether it can remain in business and posted a $2.7 billion loss in the first half of this year.
Cineworld, the owner of Regal Cinemas, said last week that it may need to raise more cash early next year if a second wave of coronavirus cases cause “prolonged” shutdowns in the United States and Britain. “There can be no certainty as to the future impact of Covid-19 on the group,” it said in a statement. The company’s auditor, PwC, has cast doubt on Cineworld’s ability to stay in business.
Cineworld said that it had so far reopened 561 out of its 778 theaters. Of those that remain shut, 200 are located in the United States, 11 are in Israel and six are in the United Kingdom.
PwC said the company was particularly “sensitive to the ability to open the remaining cinemas in New York and California by the end of October, and to further delays of the current forecast movie slate.”
— Frank Pallotta and Streisand Neto contributed reporting.
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