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TOPIC: Re-Opening after Corona

Re-Opening after Corona 31 Jul 2020 08:50 #44587

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Here's an article on the current situation that we already know about, written here in Michigan with some quotes from a Big Screen Biz poster, Adam Fraser.

www.freep.com/story/entertainment/movies...ertainty/5545047002/

The Pines Theatre, a 450-seat venue with one screen in Houghton Lake, Michigan, opened in 1941 and has survived numerous up and downs of the movie business.

Its latest challenge? The uncertainty caused by the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

In mid-June, after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer moved northern Michigan to Phase 5 of the state's reopening plan, the Pines was able to screen movies for the first time since mid-March.

Under reduced capacity and safety measures, it started running older hits like 1985's "Goonies" and 1993's "Jurassic Park." But after last weekend's screenings of the 2016 animated hit "Zootopia," the Pines announced on Facebook that it would be closing again.

Its goal now is to reopen around Aug. 28 in hopes that new major films will arrive by then.

"While playing the older movies was fun, the attendance didn’t justify all the added expenses of payroll, electricity and everything of being open until Hollywood comes out with a new movie," said Adam Fraser, whose family co-owns the theater and who has worked there for about 25 years, ever since he was a youngster of 13.

Fraser isn't sure when things will return to normal — or even reach the level of a new normal — for movie theaters

"I honestly think it will be spring or summer of next year before a full release calendar becomes available again, mixed with a large enough number of customers willing to come see movies," he said.

Will you be able to go out to the movies in 2020 or even 2021? Right now, coronavirus pandemic statistics are more reliable indicators than studio announcements.

Given the large number of COVID-19 cases in Florida, Texas and California and elsewhere, the total U.S. death count of more than 150,000 (a figure that keeps climbing) and the 21 states declared red zones for rising infection numbers, potential cinematic blockbusters are playing a delaying game.

"A Quiet Place Part II" has moved from Labor Day weekend to April 23, 2021. "Top Gun: Maverick" jumped from Christmas to July 2, 2021. "Wonder Woman 1984" was bumped from Aug. 14 to Oct. 2, and the buzz is it will be bumped again. "Mulan" is postponed indefinitely.

And what about "Tenet," the action thriller from director Christopher Nolan that was supposed to save the 2020 summer movie season? After several postponements of its original July 17 release date and a brief period off the schedule entirely, Warner Bros. revealed this week that "Tenet" will open first in 70 countries — not including the United States — starting Aug. 26.

"Tenet" will arrive in select (and yet to be named) U.S. cities on Sept. 3. At least that's the current strategy. All upcoming releases seem tentative at the moment and ultimately depend on what happens with the virus.

"Everything is TBD (to be determined), as studios don’t know a couple weeks out if they can even open films in any given city or country due to the fluid nature of contagion," said Jeff Bock, a senior box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations, a leading source of entertainment research and data, via email.

Bock offered a frank assessment of the outlook for the rest of 2020.

"Whether or not the domestic movie industry is successful comes down to how the United States handles the virus in the coming months. The entertainment industry is on its knees and desperately wants to rise up to where it was before all this began," he said.

"Tenet" could be a test case for whether audiences are ready to return to enclosed spaces with strangers for long periods of time, Bock said.

If "Tenet" opens in the United States and doesn't get much attention, "it will likely (shutter) the industry domestically for the remainder of 2020, or until a vaccine is widely available, or Americans start taking this pandemic seriously and quash it out."

Talk long enough about when movies will return to theaters and the conversation turns to public health policy, specifically the need for a coordinated national strategy for curbing the pandemic.

Countries from South Korea and New Zealand to Canada and Germany have had much success in controlling the spread of the virus. Why isn't the United States doing the same thing? Experts attribute the alarming rise in cases in large part to states reopening from economic shutdowns and letting up on restrictions too soon.

So far, it has been left up to states to set their own COVID-19 policy. But 50 different ways to govern the virus has resulted in a current average of 60,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day.

As for the notion of a shared individual commitment to taking precautions against the virus, Americans remain too divided for that. Masks, which have science on their side, have become as partisan as political buttons.

If movies are a microcosm of real life, the status of movie theaters now reflects how difficult it is for businesses to rebound amidst a growing pandemic.

Movie theaters rely on a steady supply of new movies in order to make money, while studios rely on being able to open their big-budget projects of $200 million or more on several thousand screens at once.

As of now, the top markets of California and New York remained closed. More than 40 states are now allowing all or most indoor movie theaters to operate, but most haven't

Michigan has more than 1,270 movie screens at more than 190 locations. Aside from the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan, the rest of the state is still waiting to get the OK to reopen cinemas.

Tension erupted last month between Whitmer's office and the Emagine Entertainment chain when Emagine chairman Paul Glantz announced a Juneteenth benefit film festival at Emagine Royal Oak. The event was canceled after the state attorney general's office warned Glantz in a letter that criminal charges would be filed if the festival proceeded.

Emagine Royal Oak sued Whitmer, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and another state official, but a federal judged sided with Whitmer and denied the suit's claim that the state's order amounted to a violation of constitutional rights covered by the First Amendment.

Cory Jacobson, the owner of the Phoenix Theatres in Livonia, Wayne and Monroe, says Whitmer deserves a lot of credit for keeping Michigan in better shape than other states with her tough stance on COVID-19.

But he thinks the state has unfairly lumped together cinemas with concert halls and other indoor performance venues in its reopening plan.

”I think there is a disconnect in terms of perception about movie theaters," said Jacobson, who argues that contemporary multiplexes are no longer like the old model of hundreds of people sitting shoulder to shoulder.

Jacobson says his multi-screen cinemas, like those of his competitors, have reclining seats that require more distance between rows. Under social distancing guideline, according to him, a single movie auditorium might contain 45 to 50 people.

"In a restaurant, there’s about the same number of people that are in much smaller rooms," said Jacobson. "I have 30-foot-high ceilings and very, very good air filtration and heating and air conditioning systems to move the air around.”

Though Jacobson believes that multiplexes could open safely (and points to extensive planning already in place for a safe reopening), he also has been thinking outside the box about how to use now-dormant spaces.

Earlier this month, he issued a press release floating the idea of turning movie auditoriums into temporary classrooms. Jacobson says he sent out 300 letters to educators in Michigan and in Iowa and Massachusetts, where he also owns theaters.

"I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls and a lot of interest, and I think people are trying to wrap their minds around how exactly to do this," he said. “I just think we need to get creative.”

Russ Collins, who heads the Michigan Theater Foundation that owns Ann Arbor's historic Michigan Theater and the State Theater, says he remains optimistic that theaters still can reopen this year in a big way.

"I’ve got to hope that it will. In a sense, we’re ready to open every week. We prepare to be open, but, obviously we’re not currently," said Collins, a founding director of the Art House Converge, a national group for art house cinemas. "I think commercial theaters as well as independent theaters, they’re working to be very flexible to respond to what the opportunities will be. But I think it’s going to be contingent upon getting control of the infection rates.”

That contingency resonates with Jordan Stancil, a former State Department employee who came home to Grayling in northern Michigan seven years ago to take over his family's Rialto Theatre.

Stancil describes how his great-grandfather started the business in 1915. The theater had to close during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, he says, although he hasn't found documents to indicate for how long. The current location opened in 1930 after a fire at the original location.

The Rialto has withstood the Great Depression of the 1930s, World War II in the 1940s, the challenge from television in the 1950s, more recent challenges from VHS tapes and DVDs, the 2008 recession and the millennial rise of online streaming.

“We’ve seen a lot of things where people sort of look at us and say, 'Oh man, those poor Stancils, running that theater,' " he said with a laugh.

Stancil says he's in it for the long haul. His main concern right now isn't when "Tenet" will arrive or when he'll reopen the Rialto. He's worried about the fact that America hasn't successfully reined in the spread of COVID-19.

“The only thing that matters right now is that the public health authorities take whatever steps are necessary to get the virus under control and that’s it, full stop," he said.

Although he's frustrated by the lack of a national response to the crisis, Stancil is convinced that movie-going will remain a part of the cultural experience.

"There’s going to be a post-coronavirus world," he said. "And when that arrives, people are going to go to movie theaters.”
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Re-Opening after Corona 31 Jul 2020 08:59 #44588

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We've been open since late June, 50 seats only in our big auditorium, small auditorium closed (legally only allowed to seat 12 in there for now anyway, so what's the point?) Each row is taped off, with either the middle section or the ends closed, like a checkerboard, so that no one will sit directly in front or behind anyone else, and no one will have to cross someone that isn't from their own party if they leave for the bathroom during the show. Masks required until seated in the auditorium, no self-serve popcorn flavorings available, plexiglass up in the concessions are separating workers from customers, etc. Reduced showtimes so the auditorium is cleaned thoroughly between shows. Customers have been generally well-behaved and accepting of the changes.

Showing classic flicks like Jurassic Park and Back to the Future, we're averaging maybe 10-12 people a show. We've had several "sell-outs" of 50 people, but only when the weather was bad - and we've had a fantastic summer for weather here. We desperately need some fresh movies to show! I sympathize with Adam F at The Pines theater mentioned in the post above, without new flicks I don't see the point of staying open full time after Labor Day. Of course, first we need Covid-19 rates to drop, and they've climbed significantly this summer as tourists flood our local area.
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Re-Opening after Corona 17 Aug 2020 08:39 #44590

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Anyone going to reopen with TENET? Better check the terms first! But in this age of 25% capacity showing reruns, what choice do theaters have?

www.indiewire.com/2020/08/tenet-tickets-...ugust-21-1234580302/

Advance ticket sales for Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” begin this Friday, August 21, for three days of sneak previews that start Monday, August 31.

Tickets for regular engagements, which start Thursday, September 3, will be available Thursday, August 27.

These are some of the “Tenet” contract details that Warner Bros. sent to exhibitors, obtained by IndieWire. As IndieWire reported last week, limited advance showings of “Tenet” will be offered for three days prior to September 3. According to the contract, theaters can have one showing per night, no earlier than 5 p.m. Those theaters that screen in premium formats may offer a second show.

To participate in “Tenet,” theaters must agree not only to follow local laws, but also to comply with the not-yet-published but already disseminated safety standards drafted by the National Association of Theater Owners. These include wearing a face mask anywhere in a theater, with the exception of when consuming concessions.

The email notes: “These special terms are being offered to its exhibitor customers specifically for ‘Tenet’ to address the special circumstances in the market… including the high commercial risk from uncertain consumer demand, reopening rules, health and safety regulations, and socially distancing capacity issues.”

As a sign of the times, the first section deals with health issues: “Exhibitor specifically represents and warrants to Warner that it shall comply at all times with all applicable laws and regulations at its theater(s), including without limitation, all laws, orders and standards relating public health and safety, such as rules and protective measures against the contraction and spread of COVID-19 or other illnesses and applicable voluntary health and safety measures and protocols regarding these matters as may be promulgated by the exhibition industry, such as NATO’s published health and safety protocols.”

In addition, Warners also tells theaters they need to provide on-demand information about the theaters’ reopening activities and consumer messaging.

For film rental, Warner Bros. is asking for 63 percent for all weeks of the engagement. That is at the high end, and its inclusion is significant because it varies from some deals in which top chains have preset expectations for how much they will pay based on total domestic gross. Though what the studio asks can be subject to negotiation, Warners holds the upper hand. For top titles like this one, normal practice is all theaters receive the same template.

Exhibitors might recoil at 63 percent, a near-record high for film rentals. However, Warners is taking an empirical risk as the first major studio to lead the return to theaters – especially when the pandemic means it faces a box office significantly lower than what “Tenet” might generate under normal circumstances. Just as Disney pushed “Mulan” to Disney+, Warners certainly could have done the same with PVOD and HBO Max. And they are stepping up at an incredibly important moment in terms of the future of theaters.

The demands on number of weeks to play are at the high end:

• “Tenet” must have the largest non-IMAX screen each week, until otherwise agreed
• Single screens – 4 weeks, with a third-weekend holdover figure determinant in place
• Twins – 5+ weeks

• 3 to 8 screens – 8 weeks
• 9+ screens – 12 weeks

As the sole standout initial release, it should be easy to comply with these standards. For those rare single screens, four weeks would lead into “Wonder Woman 1984” (also Warner Bros.) on October 2.

Warners also requires maximum theater marketing directed to publicizing “Tenet,” at no extra cost to the studio. The studio also requires three trailers for upcoming Warner Bros. films before the “Tenet” feature.

Warners also plans film rental collection in a shorter time frame, and ties collection to digital print access. Warners doesn’t want exhibitors to use “Tenet” to pay other bills.
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Re-Opening after Corona 17 Aug 2020 10:16 #44591

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Man us little guys can't catch a break .
We have been open since June 5 showing oldies but goodies with hopes that when everything breaks loose MAYBE they would want our biz also ..
Nate
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Re-Opening after Corona 19 Aug 2020 20:36 #44592

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I see that as the little guys catching a break.
They easily could have postponed the release or get a bunch of money of VOD but they didn't. I bet I'll still make more in week5 with "TENET" than I made with "PRETTY IN PINK" last weekend ($168.00)
Jay
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Re-Opening after Corona 20 Aug 2020 06:43 #44593

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So how many of us small town theater's are going to open on the break with TENET ?
We are going to hold off ,4 weeks would leave us with the nothing but crickets the last 2 weeks .
Nate
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Re-Opening after Corona 21 Aug 2020 06:49 #44594

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I thought you were a 2 screen, Nate? I'm wondering if the average attendance for 4 weeks of TENET would still justify the empty seats for weeks 3 and 4. I think there is an option after the 3rd weekend for TENET for 1-screens.

We're right on the edge of the line in Michigan between open and closed theaters - 6 miles to the south our theater would be closed. I'm hoping we can get a lot of business from the next town to the south (25 miles) for TENET, seeing how their 8-screen remains closed but we're open.
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Re-Opening after Corona 21 Aug 2020 11:11 #44595

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Yep we have 2 screens, but our small theater only holds 25 so basically 12 at half capacity .
We've been running just our large screen only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with very low attendance, everyone around us that opened closed back down and of course we have our regulars that come no matter what we're showing but 4 weeks is too much to ask .


We don't get much from the surrounding towns like we did before the world stopped turning , kind of crazy.
Most around here consider the virus political and we've had some say they won't come in if we wear a mask,
which we do ( not mandatory yet ).
This weekend will be our 4th weekend with free admission just trying to drag them in and it's looking up, last week 4 shows 143 that's our best since march.
Nate
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Re-Opening after Corona 28 Aug 2020 14:26 #44596

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Welp - got TENET coming in next week, time to end the summer of re-runs and see if there's any life in those new flicks. We're still at 25% capacity max so we'll see if new movies can be profitable with limited seating. Anything should do better than movies from the 80s averaging 7-12 people per show.
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Re-Opening after Corona 20 Sep 2020 17:50 #44597

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I knew back in March that 2020 was screwed as far as new content is concerned. We will be eyeing the end of February or beginning of March in 2021 as the time to reopen our indoor. In the mean time, I've opened a second drive in location and that corner of the industry is doing extremely well.
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Re-Opening after Corona 25 Nov 2021 18:00 #44604

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Haven't been on this forum in a long time! Anyway, I thought I'd update for posterity. We opened in September 2020, and stayed open until mid-November. It was extremely slow, we broke even just to the penny, but it was worth it just to have our marquee lights on and our staff working. We were then closed, but opened for concessions sales through December. We opened again in March, for Raya. Much busier and more normal than in the fall. We had a to close for a week in April and another week in August, but other than that we've been operating. We had a pretty good summer. Received the SVOG in June and the supplemental about two weeks ago. Although it feels like 2 years have gone by so fast, since we played Frozen 2 and Knives Out at Thanksgiving 2019, it is also a whole new world.

I hope you are all doing well and still operating!

Happy Thanksgiving!
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