In Hollywood, the pandemic has changed the balance of power between theaters and studios

One of the theaters of the AMC chain of theaters, Empire 25, in New York City on August 21.

Thursday, August 20, the chain of cinemas AMC, the first in the world, announced with fanfare the reopening of theaters in the United States. It was only a hundred complexes, or only a sixth of its park, but after six months of confinement, AMC had celebrated the event with an exceptional promotion. Thanks to the hundredth anniversary of its creation, the session would cost only 15 cents. “Films of 2020 at the price of 1920”, proclaimed the advertisements.

AMC, like its competitor Regal, had also announced exceptional sanitary measures: rooms filled to a maximum of 30% of their capacity, masks for everyone, popcorn in closed packages. On the bill, global successes: Black panther, Grease, Jurassic Park – lack, it is true, of new productions.

A month later, the finding does not encourage optimism. Two-thirds of multiplex cinemas have reopened across the country but spectators do not seem ready to return to shut themselves up in dark rooms bathed in air conditioning (even if it is filtered with the same techniques as in planes, the distributors praise).

No blockbuster showing

Christopher Nolan’s thriller, Tenet, on which the distributors counted to show that the cinema was back, did not keep its promises. After its release on Thursday, September 3, it grossed $ 20 million in five days, but the second weekend the performance was disappointing (admittedly critics weren’t shouting for the masterpiece) .

Read the review of “Tenet”: Christopher Nolan leads his audience astray in space-time

Total movie theater sales over the Labor Day holiday weekend (September 5-7) were just $ 15 million, or about $ 5,000 per theater, far short of the revenue needed to cover the movie theater. expenses. And no blockbuster is showing for the next few weeks. Wonder Woman 1984, by Patty Jenkins, has been pushed back to December. Universal has withdrawn Candyman, by Nia DaCosta, from the October lineup to send it back to 2021.

Doubt has gripped Hollywood, and pundits are starting to question whether Warner Bros. took a reckless risk by stepping out Tenet indoors, unlike other studios. Sony has delayed its releases to 2021. And Disney favors streaming: the release of its Mulan in China did not give the expected results – 23 million dollars the first three days – and, in the United States, the film, shot in Xinjiang, is the subject of a call for boycott in solidarity with the Uighur population .

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