Imax Exec Says Pfizer's Potential COVID Vaccine Is a "Game-Changer" for Theater Revivals

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a devastating toll on a number of industries, made all the more severe by the fact that there was no clear end in sight for quarantine measures, but with Pfizer recently revealing that they have found success with a vaccine, Imax CEO Richard Gelfond recently detailed how much of a "game-changer" the vaccine would be for the movie theater industry. While there are still a number of variables with the vaccine and its distribution, some reports claim the movie theater industry, among many other industries, could get back to some semblance of normalcy by next spring.

"Pfizer said it is a game-changer in terms of public health issues. And I think the vaccine is a game-changer in terms of the movie industry. No one had a time frame before. The announcement puts bookends on in," Gelfond shared with The Hollywood Reporter.

Despite how early in the development process the vaccine might be, this latest update from Pfizer has been one of the only promising updates about curbing or even eradicating COVID-19's spread. When theaters began to shutter their doors earlier this year, some studios had hoped that it would only be a matter of months before they could resume operations. As more time went by, studios began delaying their highly anticipated film releases by months, only to approach those dates and delay those releases even further. If movie theaters will be up and running by April of next year, the movie industry could slowly but surely return to how it looked prior to closures.

"Exhibition has been so beaten down," Wall Street analyst Eric Handler added to the conversation. "Now, there is at least hope that we can get back to normal next year. There are a lot of people who won't go back to theaters until there is a vaccine."

Following American theaters closing their doors in March, they remained closed until various states started reopening businesses this past August, allowing select markets to reopen theaters at a reduced capacity. Despite this being a promising step for the industry, they had to rely on repertory screenings instead of major new releases, which meant that, even if they could fill as much as 50% of an auditorium, they didn't have the films that would draw large enough numbers of guests.

This past week, America had multiple days in which more than 100,000 people tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in states tightening restrictions once again.

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