As the Coronavirus pandemic continues across the United States, the question of when movies will return to theaters seems to become a larger and larger question mark.
Movie studios have continued to move release dates further and further back to accommodate what is happening, but at least one analyst feels that more moves are coming.
In a note to investors this week, Eric Handler of MKM Partners said that he doesn’t see movie theaters in the U.S. reopening until Sept. “at the earliest.” With that in mind, he is currently predicting the 2020 box office will drop nearly 70% from 2019 levels.
“The near-term outlook for exhibition related stocks remains extremely clouded given the uncertainty about when theaters will be able to reopen with new Hollywood content,” he wrote. “We place a low likelihood of Tenet opening on Aug. 12 given a rising number of COVID-19 cases in key areas, such as California, Texas and Florida, along with the slowed reopening of the New York City economy. In our view, it would be surprising to see theaters able to reopen nationwide before September, at the earliest.”
As it currently stands, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is targeting an Aug. 12 release date as the director wants to be the first major film to welcome moviegoers back to the theater. However, since this analyst note was released, California’s Governor Newsom has closed all movie theaters once again, lessening the likelihood of that Aug. 12 date.
As it stands right now, if movie theaters will even reopen in any meaningful way in 2020 remains a question mark. It looks as though it is truly the time for drive-in theaters to shine.