Cinema owners expect audiences to flock back after pandemic

Gregory Wakeman
The Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square in central London closed till further notice on March 24, 2020. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Getty Images)

John Fithian, the president of the National Association Of Theatre Owners in America, is confident moviegoers will return to cinemas once the coronavirus quarantine subsides. 

Fithian made this prediction during a webinar for exhibitors, theatre vendors, concessionaires, and journalists on Friday, which was designed to offer reassurances and advice for the industry during this time of trouble. 

Fithian and his Vice President Patrick Corcoran even went as far as to estimate that theaters will re-open their doors either in late May or early June.

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“We strongly believe there will be a rush to cinemas to see all kinds of movies because people will just want to connect with their family and friends once it’s safe to do so,” remarked Fithian, according to Indiewire. 

But that seems incredibly optimistic since some governors in the United States believe that the pandemic won’t peak in their states until the middle of the summer, and others aren’t willing to put a timeline on it.

Nato President & CEO John Fithian speaks onstage at CinemaCon 2019. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for CinemaCon)

Whenever cinemas do open back up, Fithian believes that major precautions will be needed to keep audiences safe.

“We anticipate when we first open cinemas back up anywhere in the world, we’ll have social distancing. We’ll return to the very intense cleaning procedures and anything else the health officials recommend.”

Fifthian also said that he expects most major blockbuster to eventually be released in cinemas, rather than being made available online instead. 

Read More: Study finds that cinemas could suffer 'major drop' in attendance even after pandemic subsides

In fact, he attacked Universal’s plans to debut Trolls: World Tour online, calling it a “bad decision,” before adding that his conversations with the major studios are “not suggesting significant changes in the business model.” Instead, they’re about how they can “survive as an industry.”

But that was before Disney announced that Artemis Fowl will debut on Disney+ in May, though, which suggests that huge changes to the movie industry could still follow the crisis.