This week, exhibition giant Cineworld stepped back into the spotlight after having been relatively quiet over the last six months since it closed all its cinemas in response to a surge in coronavirus infections and a drought of new studio releases. On Tuesday, Cineworld announced plans to reopen many of its 566 Regal Cinemas locations in the U.S. on April 2nd, timed with the release of Godzilla Vs. Kong, and the remainder of its locations by April 16th, with the premiere of Mortal Kombat.
In addition, Cineworld also announced that it had reached an agreement with Warner Bros. Pictures to play the studio’s films in 2021 and beyond, under a 45-day exclusive theatrical window on major titles beginning in 2022, after the impact of the pandemic on moviegoing is expected to have faded. Not coincidentally, both Godzilla Vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat are Warner Bros. releases.
Cineworld’s CEO Mooky Greidinger has said consistently that he would not re-open the company’s theatres until studios had committed to releasing a consistent stream of new titles to lure audiences. He has also insisted that the exhibitor could not operate profitably at anything less than 50% capacity allowed by public health authorities.
In the U.S., many states are now allowing this level of capacity in cinemas, while others have announced a timeline to reach those levels over the months ahead. Taken together with the widespread rollout of vaccinations, studios now appear committed to a regular flow of theatrical movie releases that will allow exhibitors to move in the direction of a pre-pandemic level of ticket sales and revenue.
See also: Regal Owner Cineworld Posts $3 Billion Loss, Raises Cash, But Warns “Material Uncertainty” Remains (Hollywood Reporter)