Everyone wants good news, but it’s bad news that sells papers and boosts ratings.
Not surprisingly, the good news that NY & CA are finally letting cinemas reopen is being overshadowed in some media reports by unhappiness about capacity restrictions. The doomsayers say limiting capacity to 25% or 100 people (whichever is less) isn’t good enough for studios to risk opening tentpoles.
What they’re forgetting is that pre-pandemic theatres weren’t operating at anything close to 100%. Sure, there were sell-outs for Friday & Saturday nights. But these were only for event films – like Disney/Marvel’s BLACK WIDOW (pictured) will be 5/7 — not for the rest of the movie pack, which on average may have had 50% capacity. Even tentpoles weren’t playing to 100% average capacity on weekdays.
Of course, exhibitors hope to boost today’s 25% cap to 50% asap. But until that’s possible, they can make 25% work by playing an event film on almost all of a multiplex’s screens – say 14 out of 16 – and use staggered showings to limit crowds. Putting every available screen to work with 100% of the permissible 25% will add up to the benefit of studios & exhibitors alike.