Movie theaters around the country have been closed for a month now, and fans are itching to get back out to the movies after this pandemic is finally over. There's no telling exactly when that will be, but the White House has laid out a plan to begin reopening the country's economy over the next couple of months. The new guidelines for starting business up again after this period of self-isolation specifically mention movie theaters. While those guidelines don't mention a specific time frame for when theaters can open, they do offer some insight as to what will have to happen in order to start the process.
President Trump addressed the country's governors on Thursday afternoon, revealing the plans to reopen businesses titled, "Opening Up America Again." These plans outline a multi-phase process that aims to slowly restart the economy after it has been largely dormant for the past month or so. States must meet certain criteria in terms of reducing COVID-19 cases before they are allowed to start opening businesses.
The president was hopeful that some areas would be in the clear as early as May 1, but the theaters likely wouldn't reopen at that time, largely because theaters won't be opening as a part of Phase One. This first step of the process mentions larger venues, like theaters or arenas, but says they would need to adhere to "strict social distancing protocols," which would be incredibly difficult to enforce. Phase Two, however, is where these larger venues are able to really open.
Under the Phase Two guidelines, large venues such as movie theaters, sports arenas, sit-down restaurants, and places of worship, and schools should be allowed to open up with "moderate physical distancing protocols." For theaters, this will likely look like the protocols that were enforced before things started closing down, where seats within the theaters are made unavailable when purchasing tickets, keeping the crowds smaller and people farther apart.
At the end of the day, it is up to the individual states as to when these phases will take place. The May 1st date for Phase One from the White House isn't set in stone. The entertainment industry is hoping to start opening theaters in June, but that will all depend on the next few weeks.
The first major movie release on the schedule at this time remains Christopher Nolan's Tenet, which is set to hit theaters on July 17th. Just one week later, on July 24th, Disney plans to release the live-action Mulan.