Movie theatres face further disruptions as distributors weigh the risk of postponing blockbuster titles once again.
There was an attempt at opening doors and concession stands last summer for a tentpole film like Tenet, but the result was underwhelming. The question now becomes how long these delays can continue without theatres suffering permanently.
“Any protracted amount of time where theatres can’t be open, just like any business, is going to damage their income,” said Charlie Keil, a professor of cinema studies at the U of T’s St. George campus.
“Compound that with the unreliability of supply of product. Say you are a theatre that happened to be open in a market right now where there was limited concern about being open,” he said. “Do you have product to put on your screen in order to get patrons to come?”
The product in this case are the films themselves. MGM announced on Jan. 21 its No Time To Die had been pushed back to Oct. 8, 2021 — almost two years from its original release date of November 2019.
Edgar Wright’s new film Last Night in Soho has also moved to Oct. 22, 2021, from April 23.
The approaching awards season has become muddled because of 2020’s scattered release schedule. It’s expected that Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Amazon’s Borat: Subsequent Movie Film and HBO Max’s Judas and the Black Messiah are to be in consideration for the 2021 awards, according to Variety’s Oscar predictions.
Harrison Smith, a second-year Humber student in the Film and TV program, said Oscar movies can be tough to keep up with even in a normal year.
“I never really tracked Oscar movies until I connected with other film students, but now it’s harder not being able to go to a theatre and see potential Oscar movies throughout the year,” he said.
Former Humber student and graphic designer Magen Vaillant has taken an interest the future of theatres and their longevity.
“I have been watching the market lately for theatres and they are very slowly climbing their way back up, but there are hints that their stock prices might crash because of new streaming platforms and theatres may file for bankruptcy,” Vaillant said.
“AMC is opening theatres back up in the States as of yesterday, but the movies themselves are still delayed so their stock prices are halted again,” she said.
How much longer patrons will be out of movie theatres is yet to be determined, but it could be another four to six months at the least.
Canada’s largest theatre chain, Cineplex, declined to comment on their plan to survive further theatrical delays.