During 2020, the pandemic ‘s disruptions forced studios to hold back on releasing their slate of new films to theatres. When the box office tanked – down in 2020 by a staggering 80% compared to 2019 – exhibitors that remained open scrambled to find additional sources of income to stay afloat. Many theatres found some success by promoting private group rentals, offering dedicated use of theatre auditoriums for a flat fee. While these rentals generated a small fraction of the income that traditional ticket sales would bring in, they did succeed in luring a certain number of customers back to the theatre during the pandemic.
Now that studios are once again releasing their premium films and attendance is beginning to rebound, most exhibitors are dialing back their efforts to promote private rentals. However, some exhibitors have begun to experiment with renting out their auditoriums for video game tournaments or live events, in addition to dedicated film screenings. These creative approaches provide options for exhibitors to lure customers to the theatre during the slow times in the middle of the week.