Written by: Nick Bessignano
Film is an integral staple of American culture however amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic movie studios and theaters have suffered great financial losses and are desperate to switch the narrative. The industry has introduced various methods to counteract the situation including releasing content directly on-demand and also shifting release schedules months to even years back. With most theaters closed, cinephiles are eager to find a movie going experience wherever it may be.
Christopher Nolan’s upcoming espionage epic Tenet was anticipated to be the first studio tentpole film release this summer. The movie was expected to arrive on July 17th, which switched to July 31st and then August 12th before being completely removed from Warner Bros. release schedule. Many movies like The King of Staten Island and Palm Springs have found a home on streaming platforms however upcoming blockbusters like Mulan and A Quiet Place Part II are holding out for a traditional release date. John Fithian, the CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners, says “the old distribution models of big blockbusters need to be rethought.” Theaters still have fixed costs throughout this pandemic and haven’t received a dime of revenue. AMC Theaters, which is the biggest theater chain in North America, doesn’t plan on opening until mid-to-late August while competitors Regal and Cinemark haven’t unveiled their reopening plans yet.
While brick and mortar movie theaters haven’t opened their doors yet, drive-ins and other theater hybrids are seeing a rise in popularity. Walmart announced plans to transform 160 of their parking lots into drive-in theaters. The superstore is partnering with Robert De Niro’s media company, Tribeca Enterprises, to program the films. In addition, some events are expected to feature special appearances from filmmakers and celebrities. The event will run through October and include more than 300 showings. Beyond Cinema, an Australian entertainment company is launching a series of “floating cinemas” that will include 12 to 24 mini boats holding up to 8 people. The titles shown will be a mix of “golden oldies and new releases” and expect to roll out into cities like Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Chicago.
With theaters not looking to open until the tail end of August, moviegoers will have to wait just that much longer before they can take their seats for the big screen. A perk with theaters is that the auditoriums are much larger than a typical bar or restaurant, leaving more room to manage social distancing and traffic flow. In addition, IMAX will be requiring masks to be used by their exhibition partners in North America within chains like AMC, Regal and Cinemark. On July 28th Warner Bros. announced the international release of Tenet will be on August 26th and it will arrive in the US on September 3rd meaning we’ll be seeing Christopher Nolan’s next mind bending spectacle sooner than later.