Hollywood Anticipates Theater Attendance to Rise With COVID-19 Vaccine Rolls Out
By Movieguide® Staff
After an abysmal 2020 for theatrical releases and tentpole movies either delayed or headed straight to streaming in 2021 due to the pandemic, Hollywood hopes that the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine will revive the box office.
“The studios have delayed the vast majority of their major releases until movie theaters are back in business for a very simple reason. A theatrical release is their biggest source of revenue on these titles, and they cannot be profitable without such a release,” John Fithian, president-CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, said. “The tunnel of this pandemic for exhibitors has been long, but the light at the end of that tunnel looks very bright indeed.”
Wall Street analyst Eric Wold of B. Riley Securities echoed the optimistic outlook, despite the delays and disorganization for COVID-19 vaccination distribution to the public.
“Now, as long as you can make it to July, then you can participate in the recovery,” Wold said.
Another positive sign is that AMC, the world’s largest cinema chain, revealed that they could avoid restructuring due to the significant losses suffered in 2020. Other major chains, such as Cinemark, also claim that they are stable financially, so long as the market returns this summer.
As most theaters remain closed, some industry experts believe it is unwise to release a movie until they are allowed to open.
“The major studios have realized there is no point in trying to release their product right now,” a financier told The Hollywood Reporter.
Warner Bros. was the one exception, as they not only released TENET—only to mild success—but also introduced their deal with HBO Max to release their complete 2021 slate on streaming alongside their theatrical releases.
A couple of summer blockbusters still on the calendar include BLACK WIDOW (May 7) and TOP GUN: MAVERICK (July 2).
The National Research Group claim that survey responses show a growing level of comfortability at the idea of going to the theaters.
“There is hope on the horizon for the first time in a while. The speed of the vaccine rollout is by far the biggest thing that will bring the business back,” Ethan Titelman, an executive VP at NRG, said.
Comscore’s Paul Dergarabedian added: “The phrase you are going to hear a lot right now is ‘cautious optimism,’ which is quite different from a few months ago, when it was all gloom and doom.”