John Fithian, president and chief executive of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), called the coronavirus pandemic “existential” for the movie theatre industry.
“If we go a year without new movies, it’s over,” he said.
Los Angeles Times reports that the Covid-19 pandemic has Hollywood studios holding off new releases and major theatre chains delaying their opening dates.
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet was originally expected to open 17 July but has been pushed until 12 August, while Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan has been delayed from 24 July to 21 August. The sequel to John Krasinski's A Quiet Place, which was set to debut on 20 March, is now expected in early September.
Fithian told the Los Angeles Times that his organisation has been encouraging studios to begin releasing their big movies next month. Fithian warned that continuing to postpone release dates could do lasting damage to the industry.
In response to the delay in release dates, theatre chains are holding off on opening their doors. AMC Theatres, the world’s largest cinema chain, initially planned to open on 15 July but has pushed the date back until 30 July. Regal Cinemas, another major American movie theatre chain, also remains closed.
Postponed blockbuster release dates and the sustained closures of cinemas have had huge consequences for the film industry. The North American box office is expected to drop 61 per cent from last year. Wedbush securities estimates that the box office will total $4.4bn in 2020, compared to $11.4bn in 2019.
The first wide-release film scheduled for release will be the psychological thriller Unhinged starring Russell Crowe on 31 July. Shortly after, Sony Pictures is set to debut the romantic comedy The Broken Hearts Gallery on 7 August, featuring Stranger Things actor Dacre Montgomery.