But fret no longer, as good news about one of the two markets has been released. On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the decision to reopen theaters on March 5, with restrictions in place.
: "Theater owners are pleased with the announcement that New York City movie theaters will be allowed to safely reopen. Stringent voluntary health and safety protocols have made it possible for cinemas across the country to operate safely and responsibly at higher capacity limits for many months without a single outbreak of COVID-19 being traced to movie theaters," the National Association of Theatre Owners said in response to the announcement.
"New York City is a major market for moviegoing in the U.S.; reopening 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," the NATO statement continued. "We look forward to expanding the capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent in the very near future so that theaters can operate profitably.”
Even with New York theaters having to deal with safety protocols like the rest of American theaters, this is still a really good sign for the industry. Now that one of the big markets is open, this will give distributors more confidence in pushing out their blockbusters again, regardless of the safety protocols. It's just a matter of which studio will do it first, and how soon they will do it. There is also the question will be if studios will do exclusive theatrical releases or still do day-and-date releases like Warner Bros. and Disney.
Those questions will linger, but for the time being, hearing a big market is reopening is going to help the theater industry tremendously. Maybe if Los Angeles will reopen its theaters soon and with COVID vaccines being pushed out fast, then the second half of this year will become the official return of the movie theater industry.