Cinemas in the United States are likely to remain closed until the middle of 2021 due to the “prolonged impact” of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Hollywood Reporter wrote that market analyst Doug Creutz, of financial services firm Cowen, has downgraded his expectation for Disney stock in recognition of the continued spread of the virus across America.
Infections in the States have accelerated in recent weeks, with a record 77,300 new cases confirmed in a single day on Thursday.
Read more: Cinema releases still planned for 2020
Creutz wrote: “We now expect domestic theaters to be largely closed until mid-2021, in part because we don't think studios will be interested in releasing their largest movies into a capacity-constrained footprint."
He stated he does not believe there will be a new Disney release between now and September — when the company’s fiscal year ends — and that the next fiscal year will only yield limited releases.
The company currently has Mulan scheduled for 21 August and X-Men movie The New Mutants on the slate for 28 August.
Both of these movies have already had their release dates pushed around several times as a result of the pandemic.
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Creutz said the situation surrounding COVID-19 is “very fluid” and that this has sparked the change in the financial expectations for Disney.
He added: “We had previously assumed that the spread of COVID-19 would be relatively halted, with social distancing requirements significantly lessened by late 2020.”
The analyst cautioned further that: "We are far from certain that this estimate cut represents the last downward revision to our model."
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Cinemas in the UK, meanwhile, have begun to reopen following the British government’s relaxation of restrictions in early July.
Many of the major chain cinemas still remain closed and there are few new releases, with studios remaining cautious given the state of play on the other side of the Atlantic.
The industry largely has its eyes focused on Warner Bros and their handling of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which is currently slated to arrive on 12 August but is expected to delay further.
The director’s sci-fi actioner starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson had originally been slated for a blockbuster IMAX release this week, but its date has been pushed several times as a result of the coronavirus.
Read more: Tenet running time revealed
Nolan is renowned for his devotion to the big screen experience and has stood firm in his desire for Tenet to open in multiplexes this summer rather than delaying heavily or heading straight to streaming.
He told Deadline: “I think of all the films that I’ve made, this is perhaps the one that is most designed for the audience experience, the big screen experience.”