• Hollywood studios are optimistic as NYC movie theaters are about to reopen
  • Cinemas are allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity
  • Los Angeles could also allow the reopening of its movie halls soon

Hollywood film studios are cautiously optimistic that a summer movie season could happen now that the movie theaters in the Big Apple have been allowed to reopen next month.

During a midday press briefing Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that movie cinemas in the area will be allowed to operate again starting March 5 but at much reduced capacity, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The reopening of the theaters is happening almost a year after the entertainment establishments across the five boroughs of New York City were forced to shut down due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country.

“Cuomo’s announcement symbolizes the road to recovery and is emblematic of the things that need to happen,” Paul Dergarabedian of media company Comscore told THR.

“This paves the way for other major markets to open, and shows to the rest of the world that U.S. movie theaters are on the road to recovery. An actual summer movie season may be in the cards,” Dergarabedian added.

NYC is one of the top two moviegoing markets in the United States alongside Los Angeles. A movie’s success can be measured by its performance in the cinemas in the two cities. Since Los Angeles theaters are still not reopening, film industry insiders said that the celebration won’t be complete at least for now.

But there is hope that the summer movie season could go in full swing as industry sources claimed that California Governor Gavin Newsom and other local authorities are working to allow the reopening of the cinemas in Los Angeles within several weeks.

Movie theaters are only allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity, or accommodate 50 people per screening. Other restrictions are also in place including the need to wear masks inside the theaters and the practice of social distancing, as per CNBC.

“I’m ecstatic. This is great news for the industry as we take our first step, beginning with 25 percent,” Paramount domestic distribution boss Chris Aronson said.

“Governor Cuomo’s announcement that movie theatres can reopen in New York City in the first week of March is another important step towards restoring the health of the movie theatre industry and of our company,” AMC CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

In response to Cuomo’s announcement, the National Association of Theatre Owners issued a statement saying that they are pleased with this move considering that only 39 percent of cinemas in North America are currently operating amid the pandemic.

“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 organization stated.

People walk past the Cobble Hill Cinemas movie theater on October 8, 2020 in New York City, which has been closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic
People walk past the Cobble Hill Cinemas movie theater on October 8, 2020 in New York City, which has been closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic AFP / Angela Weiss