The main reason to rush to re-open theaters by a specific date would be if there were major Hollywood blockbusters opening. If Tenet’s gonna premiere on August 12, theaters have to be accepting customers by that date. It‘s sort of a “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, did anyone actually catch coronavirus?”-type situation.

Now Tenet is delayed indefinitely, and already the largest movie theater chain in America, AMC Theatres, has pushed back its own opening. According to a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, AMC will now reopen its multiplexes in “mid to late August.” They were previously scheduled to reopen many of their theaters by the end of this month.

Here is more from their statement, which confirms that without new movies, there’s very little incentive for AMC to risk a premature reopening:

‘This new timing reflects currently expected release dates for much anticipated blockbusters like Warner Bros.' Tenet and Disney's Mulan, as well as release dates for several other new movies coming to AMC's big screens,’ the company said in a statement.

As of this writing Mulan has not followed Tenet off the release calendar; it’s still scheduled for release on August 21. If Disney holds to that date, AMC could theoretically be open in time to screen it. (Although Warner Bros. has confirmed no new date for Tenet, several reporters have hinted that it could premiere in late August or early September, which would also align with AMC’s new plan.)

For a variety of reasons, this is a smart decision. Besides the lack of new movies, there’s also the unavoidable fact that in much of the United States, the state of the coronavirus pandemic is worse now than when movie theaters first closed back in March. If you closed then for essentially this same exact situation — or worse! — why are you reopening now? If the pandemic does not improve quickly, these theaters need to figure out a good answer to that question.

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