The film industry was given a massive win in the fight to restart this week when the California Department of Public Health announced that the state's movie theaters are allowed to reopen their doors as early as this Friday, June 12th. However, despite being given the green light to open things back up, most theaters throughout the state will remain closed for a little while longer. That may seem confusing on the surface, especially given the fact that the presumptive summer movie season is kicking off in just over a month. But the majority of California's major theaters just aren't ready to open yet. It's going to take a little more time.
According to a new report from Deadline, some independently-owned theaters will open their doors this week, with some restrictions, but the major chains aren't quite there yet. These theaters have been closed since March, and there is a lot of work still to be done. if they want to be ready to safely receive guests.
A lot of theaters have paused their leases with landowners, so they won't be able to operate until that changes. On top of that, there's the work force to consider. Most employees of bigger theater chains, such as Regal and AMC, were either furloughed or let go in order to save money during the pandemic shutdown. There's also stock to consider. Most concessions will need to be refreshed to prepare for customers.
Perhaps the biggest issue facing a theatrical reopening is the preparation needed to make the experience safe for all patrons. Theaters will have to implement new safety procedures and add more tools to keep everything sanitized. Once the theaters have employees, that will be a major hurdle and will take quite a bit of time.
Even if theaters were able to fully staff themselves AND overhaul their safety measures in the span of a week, there's nothing for people to go see. The first major release on deck is Christopher Nolan's Tenet, which doesn't arrive until July 17th. Theaters could show older popular movies while waiting for new releases, but who is going to show up to them? A theater would likely lose more money than it would gain if it tried to open a month before Tenet arrives.
Provided there isn't another COVID-related setback, theaters will be opening back up in the near future. It's a question of when, not if.