Cinema owners are asking New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reopen theaters in parts of the state with low coronavirus infection rates in an effort to save one of the struggling industry’s biggest markets.
The Global Cinema Federation (GCF) sent a letter to the governor’s office calling on him to build a path for theater owners to safely reopen in the hopes that the key market the state represents will help jumpstart the box office, which has seen numerous studios postpone new releases for fear that no one will be able to see them.
The letter begins by acknowledging the work that Cuomo has done to combat the coronavirus in New York, one of the parts of the country hit hardest at the onset of the pandemic in March.
“We recognize your commitment to ensuring that the citizens of New York remain safe and protected from COVID-19. With certain zip codes in New York seeing spikes of the virus, we are, of course, not suggesting that you open the entire state at once,” the letter states (via Deadline). “We are, however, requesting that you adopt a plan similar to that in California, where Governor Newsom has allowed openings on a county-by-county basis according to virus data.”
The letter goes on to cite studies that indicate that people sitting quietly in a theater are less likely to pass COVID-19 to others than people who are talking and eating at restaurants, which have been able to continue operating in some capacity throughout the pandemic.
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Meanwhile, the theater industry continues to struggle. Cineworld, for example, announced earlier this month that it was closing most of its theaters in the U.S. and U.K. in the wake of films like “The Batman,” “Dune,” “No Time to Die” and “Black Widow” pushing their release dates back to at least 2021. AMC Theaters, the country’s largest exhibitor, said earlier this week that it may run out of cash by the end of the year if the situation doesn’t improve.
The GCF notes that a major part of the problem is that New York City represents a key market to measure a new release’s success but remains a no-man’s-land when it comes to movie theaters.
“With New York’s theaters shuttered for nearly seven months and no indication of when they will be allowed to reopen, the studios that supply new movies have been reluctant to release their latest films to the point where almost no new major films will be released globally until 2021 and beyond," the GCF said. "Without new movies to play in our cinemas, many members of the global exhibition community will be forced to close their doors again. Many of these companies will not survive.”
In a statement to Deadline, Cuomo's press secretary, Caitlin Girouard, said that the governor understands the issue but his priority is avoiding a second wave of the virus in the state.
"With cases rising in dozens of other states and countries, we are first and foremost doing everything we can to try and prevent a second wave of the pandemic in New York. We understand it is, and continues to be, a difficult time for the entertainment industry but we will continue to make decisions on reopening based on the data, science and when global health experts determine it is safe to reopen without jeopardizing public health," Girouard said in a statement to the outlet.
Representatives for the governor's office did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.
The letter from the GCF concludes by noting that theater owners are ready, willing and able to adjust to any rules or regulations that the governor’s office hands down in order to reopen. However, nothing seems to be coming.