New York City to Reopen Movie Theaters in First Step to Possible Box Office Revival

Photo by Thomas Habr via Unsplash

New York City to Reopen Movie Theaters in First Step to Possible Box Office Revival

By Movieguide® Staff

After nearly a year of COVID-19-related closures for theaters in large U.S. markets, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that cinemas would reopen across five boroughs in New York City.

New York-based exhibitor Nicolas Nicolaou is thankful for the opportunity to begin the recovery from what he calls “the worst year of my life.”

However, for many smaller theater owners like Nicolaou, the recovery is not as simple as opening their doors.

Nicolaou said that his three venues—Cinema Village in Manhattan, Alpine Theatre in Brooklyn and Cinemart Cinemas in Queens—wouldn’t reopen for an additional month due to frozen pipes. Moreover, at only 25% capacity, making money is still an issue.

“At 25% capacity, you can’t operate profitably,” Nicolaou said. “Within a reasonable amount of time, we hopefully will be allowed to operate at 50%, which makes more economical sense.”

However, Nicolaou wants to prove that open theaters do not mean coronavirus outbreaks.

New York’s announcement could lead to other significant markets, like Los Angeles, to open and for studios to consider releasing 2021’s blockbuster movies exclusively on the big screen.

“It’s a very important piece of the puzzle,” Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore, said. “This will hopefully embolden studios to bring out their big movies. I don’t want to be too Pollyanna, but at least this gives us a shot of having some return to normalcy.”

The restoration of theater chains like AMC Theatres projects a quicker turnaround. According to Variety, all 13 AMC venues in NYC will open on March 5.

“[This is] another important step towards restoring the health of the movie theater industry,” Adam Aron, the company’s CEO, said.

While Cuomo’s announcement provides exhibitors with hope, the most telling variable will be how many people show up once doors open.