Last week, we considered the potential impact of requiring moviegoers to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test in order to attend a movie screening. On the one hand, a “vaccine passport” policy would turn away the unvaccinated, which are still a sizeable percentage of the population. On the other hand, it could serve to reassure the vaccinated of the safety of their surroundings when going to the movies.
“Vaccine passport” policies are scheduled to begin in certain key cities around the country, including New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Los Angeles is said to be considering a mandate, but the city has not yet made any announcements. In France, the government’s “health pass” policy began to take effect for cinemas as of July 21st, requiring movie theatres and most other public venues to verify proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID test for a customer to be admitted. Since that time, theatres have reported dramatically lower ticket sales. However, the inconvenience appears to have caused a spike in vaccination rates, especially among the 18-39-year-old segment of the population where it had been lagging.
If major U.S. markets enact these policies and experience a similar decline at the box office, it may increase the potential for studios to delay upcoming releases that exhibitors are relying on for a rebound in their business. “We’re really terrified about what’s going to happen,” said Joe Masher, President of NATO of New York and Chief Operating Officer of Bow Tie Cinemas. “I know these mayors think they’re doing the right thing, but they seem to leave theatres in the lurch all the time.”
See also: French Theatrical Admissions Fall 41% as COVID ‘Health Bill’ Comes Into Force (Variety)