Just about two months ago the entire entertainment industry began to shift dramatically due to the outbreak of the coronavirus as summer blockbusters began to change release dates and movie theaters in the US started to close. Studios began altering their plans for the 2020 year drastically such as Marvel Studios, who pushed back their entire Phase Four slate, and Sony Pictures, who abandoned their 2020 summer film release plans entirely, delaying most new movies into the next year. Eight weeks later though, things are starting to look up for now as a new report reveals there are now double the amount of theaters open this weekend than there were last week.
Variety reports that "about 200 locations" around the country are now open for business, with most of them being drive-in theaters. Roughly 150 drive-in theater locations are open around the country with "about 50 brick-and-mortar locations" open in the United States. States with the open locations include Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, which have begun to lift their business closures but are requiring them to enforce social distancing and other precautions.
It seems doubtful that even with double the amount of theaters open there will be a major shift in box office reporting, as studios aren't offering those numbers while new releases aren't playing on big screens.
The success of the drive-in theaters during this time is no surprise to one person, the world's foremost drive-in movie critic and Shudder's The Last Drive-In host, Joe Bob Briggs. Briggs's catchphrase for years now has been that "The drive-in will never die," with Briggs telling us last month that writing an article about the death of the drive-in is always an easy article for journalists to write.
Notably the major theater chains in the United States remain closed. AMC, Regal, and Cinemark all remain closed for the time being. A rumor popped up earlier this week that AMC Theatres, who have previously been bracing for the possibility of bankruptcy, have reportedly engaged in talks with Amazon about a buy out. Neither party have confirmed this news, but it's unclear at what point this major theater chains will re-open their doors for filmgoers.
The summer movie season is almost non-existent at this point but some movies still remain on the release calendar for the time being. Christopher Nolan's Tenet remains the next film scheduled to be released in theaters, having never budged from its July 17 release date. Walt Disney's live-action remake of Mulan will follow it the week after on July 24, that is assuming enough theaters are open for the two studios to consider a wide-release worthwhile.
It was previously reported that when movie theaters re-opened in China they would be doing it with exclusively repertory programming including movies like a new 4K release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Theaters in China reportedly began to re-open for business on March 23 but just four days later the Chinese government ordered them closed once again, they have not re-opened since.
(Cover photo by Michal Cizek / AFP via Getty Images)5comments