Movie theaters across the globe have been forced to close their doors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it now appears as if they will be free to attend upon reopening in the US.
While a large number of blockbuster films have been postponed to later this year (meaning there will be plenty for moviegoers to watch when the shutdowns end), there’s obviously some concern about getting people back in them. After all, there are those who will be understandably concerned about sitting in a crowded theater in the aftermath of this deadly and rapidly spreading virus.
Well, National Association of Theatre Owners CCO Patrick Corcoran has weighed in on that, and suggests that movie theaters could eventually open for free (while screening old movies).
“We’re working on it. We are working on it. We’re looking at what’s been happening in China. In the provinces that were least affected, they’re starting to open their theaters, and they’re open for free to patrons to coax them back. The movies they’re showing are older ones. We will see… It’s going to depend. We’re both local and national markets, and our main distribution partners are very interested in national releases as opposed to local ones, so depending on how this virus goes, and whether it’s more severe in some places and lifts sooner or later, that’s all going to go into it. We’re looking at ways to reach out to our patrons and also to our studio partners about the best ways to message and roll things out once we’re back up and running.”
It’s a good idea, but people are clearly flocking to streaming services (subscriptions for Disney+ tripled last week) and it will definitely be a struggle enticing people back if there’s some nervousness surrounding being in a place with a lot of other people. Is this the end of movie theaters as we know them? That’s a big question, and one it’s definitely far too soon to try and answer at the moment.
However, the business is likely to be be changed forever depending how long these lockdowns last.
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