New York City Movie Theaters Can Reopen at Limited Capacity, Gov. Cuomo Says

Theater stock soared on the news, with shares of AMC jumped more than 13% and shares of Cinemark climbing more than 7.5%. Despite the restrictions, the news is welcome for movie theater owners whose locations have been empty for nearly a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also could encourage studios to begin releasing bigger films, something they have been hesitant to do when a major market like New York City is off the table.
Most big-budgeted movies, including James Bond sequel "No Time to Die" and "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," had already been pushed into later this year. Even with theaters in Manhattan and surrounding boroughs open, it will be difficult for Hollywood players to turn a profit on $200 million-budgeted films with capped capacity and Los Angeles venues shuttered.” /> Does this mean people are ready to return to the movies? It's too soon to tell. But there's been speculation that upcoming releases Marvel's superhero adventure "Black Widow" (scheduled for May 7) and "Fast & Furious" entry "F9" (set for May 28) may still get pushed. Similarly, it's unclear whether or not studios will alter plans to release their biggest blockbusters.
Across the country, NATO notes, cinemas have been operating "safely and responsibly" at higher capacity limits for many months without any outbreaks of COVID-19 being traced to theaters. The National Association of Theater Owners, the film exhibition industry's main lobbying group, released a statement shortly after Cuomo's announcement to signal the group's appreciation.
"Not every business that is open has a [vaccine] preference for those employees" said Cuomo, adding that "we just simply don't have enough supply."
"We look forward to expanding the capacity from 25% to 50% in the very near future so that theatres can operate profitably.” "New York City is a major market for moviegoing in the U.S.; re-opening there gives confidence to film distributors in setting and holding their theatrical release dates, and is an important step in the recovery of the entire industry," a NATO spokesperson said.
They felt it was unfair that restaurants, sporting arenas and other public-facing institutions had approval to welcome patrons back even as movie theaters were left in the dark. New York-based film exhibitors had been publicly sparring with Cuomo in recent months about the governor's reluctance to let cinemas reopen.
That statistic, combined with the ongoing vaccine rollout, has given state officials confidence to let cash registers in theaters ring again. However, cases of coronavirus have reached below 3% for the first time since November.
"We're still in a pandemic," Cuomo said in October of 2020 and often repeated, brushing off any criticisms about his reopening model. A winter surge in cases seemed to justify that hesitancy.
During Monday's press conference, Cuomo said that movie theater employees do not qualify as essential workers when it comes to receiving doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. There are still complications.
Andrew Cuomo has given movie theaters in New York City permission to reopen at limited capacity starting on March 5. After nearly a year of closures, New York Gov.
Last October, New York venues outside of the city were allowed to reopen with the same restrictions. During his daily press briefing, the Empire State leader said cinemas in the city will be permitted to operate at 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people. Moreover, other safety measures such as masks, social distancing and heightened sanitizing measures will be required.
Likewise, outdoor amusement parks will be able to welcome guests starting April 9. In recent weeks, the governor has given large arenas like Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center permission to reopen beginning Tuesday at limited capacity. Broadway is still closed and it is unclear when those theaters can reopen given that producers are skeptical they can operate profitably with limited capacity.
With that in mind, Hollywood studios have postponed nearly every movie that was expected to premiere theatrically in the last 12 months. As NATO points out, New York City is a vital moviegoing market. A few, like "Tenet," "Wonder Woman 1984" and "The Croods: A New Age," took bold swings in opening anyway. Ticket sales in New York and California regularly generate more money than anywhere else in the country. Those films each generated roughly $50 million in the U.S., which isn't terrible given the circumstances but represents a small fraction of what studios had initially hoped.
Cuomo's timeframe is tight, but major chains such as Cinemark and AMC have grown accustomed to reopening their theaters in Chicago and Portland within a matter of days. That experience means the March 5 date for a grand reopening seems feasible.

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