It’s reopening weekend at AMC in the greater Seattle/Tacoma Washington area and we had planned to see The War With Grandpa as our second movie this weekend, but the theater where we watched Honest Thief is already sold out (pictured above).
It’s OK, we have several other reopened AMC locations to choose from that have available seats and we already reserved seats at another theater. It’s interesting to note on this reopening weekend because Honest Thief is on its first weekend opening and we’re not seeing the same amount of “SOLD OUT” for that.
This is a very small sampling of data, completely unscientific I’m certain, but curious to note since The War With Grandpa, according to box office sales projections is #2 behind Honest Thief.
The other thing to mention is now that we’re both signed up for AMC A-List passes, we took advantage of their Entourage option to easily reserve tickets for both of us online. It can be done through the application as well and the best part is there are none of those onerous convenience fees like Regal charges.
We don’t have any Alamo Drafthouse cinemas in Washington state. Not yet, anyway, but I like their idea of being able to rent the entire theater for $150 USD.
The Texas-based theater chain Alamo Drafthouse is rolling out a nationwide program where patrons rent out an entire theater for themselves – along with their pandemic pod family and friends – for $150.
For managers of small teams, this could be a relatively inexpensive team party. Rent the theater, pick a movie and invite the team and a significant other to attend. A sales team, for example, could get the team together and watch Glengarry Glen Ross ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ on the big screen.
What do you think of this promotion? Good idea? Bad? Am not just talking about during the pandemic, I’d recommend keeping this deal going. Your thoughts?
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve maintained the position that people should only return to the theater when they feel safe. There are way too many variables for any other person to judge whether or not it’s a good decision for you in your home area and individual circumstance to advise one way or the other. More importantly, who wants to take personal safety advice from a movie and TV review website?
We need to make our own decisions in life and limit outside influence. If the theater is open and you feel safe, we say more power to you. Enjoy yourselves!
If you don’t, however, that’s cool, too.
Unfortunately, the director to Doctor Strange, Scott Derrickson, has decided to take a more critical path on current moviegoers. Some might use the word “attack” when reading his quote below (emphasis is ours):
Derrickson also retweeted the following from Twitter user @mangiotto: “If you go see a movie in a theater right now, you are selfishly prolonging this crisis while endangering yourself, your family, and every stranger who may occupy a space you’ve vacated anywhere you go once you’ve been infected. You don’t care about others. You suck.”
In fairness to Mr. Derrickson, Twitter is a cesspool of critical thinking and it’s almost always extremely out of context, due to the text limitation. Still, if we play devil’s advocate, it’s really hard to put a positive spin on his own words.
This hyperbole from someone who doesn’t have, know or seem to care about all the facts is ignorant, at best. Who does this guy think he is, anyway telling me, you or anybody else that wants to go see a movie that we’re “selfishly prolonging this crisis.” Where are his facts to support this hypothesis? Besides his directorial prowess, he must also have a minor in biochemistry, yes?
Here are some facts, Mr. Derrickson.
We have been working alongside people this whole time in public in essential jobs, just as susceptible — maybe more — to being infected. Thankfully, neither of us have caught the virus, but our feelings are if we can catch the virus while working, we can catch it going to the grocery store, out to dinner or going to a movie. You can wake up this morning, walk outside and be struck by lightning or hit by a car walking down the street. Your chance of being killed in an automobile accident just commuting to and from work is high.
Risks are everywhere and we can’t live 100% risk adverse.
If you don’t want to see a movie in a theater, then don’t go. That’s totally cool and we’ll never complain about your decision. If someone wants to disrespect and again, that word, attack moviegoers without knowing anything about them or their situation, then no, we don’t suck, that person sucks.
Movie theaters are no less high risk than grocery stores or casinos and both of those are open, too. If you use Mr. Derrickson’s logic, everywhere you go outside interacting with other people you’re “prolonging” the crisis. I’m not saying throw COVID-19 parties to intentionally infect others (we’ve written about that insanity, see: COVID-19 Parties? Proof That Not All Human Life Is Intelligent).
Idiots are everywhere. Some, apparently, have directed Marvel movies.
I saw The New Mutants in IMAX Thursday (Kara wasn’t interested in seeing — and she was right) and we’re planning to see another movie tonight. Maybe — gasp — two! Probably catch at least one of the classic reissues in the theater over this weekend as well. We’re going to keep watching movies in theaters — until/unless they close again or we simply decide for whatever reason we don’t want to watch movies in theaters any more. It’s not likely to be because we believe our attendance is prolonging the crisis.
Does Mr. Derrickson’s — and probably some others agree – opinion that moviegoers are prolonging the crisis sit well with you? Do you agree or disagree? We’re open to discuss all viewpoints below.
AMC is pulling out the stops to get moviegoers back to their theaters when some are reopened next Thursday on August 20 in the United States.
Contrast this to Regal, that start reopening one day later Friday. Kara and I received email notification from Regal that we will both receive a free month of Regal Unlimited ($44+ tax value), with charging for the service to resume on/after September 21, 2020.
The 15 cents per movie deal at AMC isn’t as good as free, but it’s pretty close. Their similar program called A-List is available for $5 for the first month, but that only allows 3 movies per week. Regal doesn’t have a limit, except that you can only see the same movie once per day.
To think that in 1920 the ticket price to see movies was only 15 cents is an eye-opener for inflation considering the cost is more like $12 now.
The company, which was founded in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1920, is also offering discounts on concessions like popcorn for $5 through the end of October. “We are thrilled to once again open our doors to American moviegoers who are looking for an opportunity to get out of their houses and apartments and escape into the magic of the movies,” Adam Aron, AMC’s CEO, said in a statement on Thursday.
Bummer for those of us in Washington State. Here’s the message we get on AMC website:
“Will reopen when local guidelines allow”
This is because in our area we’re in a phased reopening: phase 2, which does not allow reopening. Phase 3 is available in some counties in Washington state. The list of counties for other Washington state residents or tourists is here:
The state capitol is in Olympia, which is Thurston county. That’s in Phase 3 which allows movie theaters to reopen with less than 25% capacity. Unfortunately, we’re not seeing any theaters located in Thurston county, which is like 30 minutes away from us. Bummer again. Maybe we’ll find an AMC theater located there somewhere.
We’ll be checking next week and maybe in our state it will be allowed for AMC to reopen. Kara and I already talked about it. If the theaters are reopened, we’ll be there on Thursday August 20, 2020 watching at least one movie, probably more.
Is your state listed with theaters in your area reopening on August 20?
If you can go, does 15 cent movie ticket prices entice you any further to return? Or maybe the reduced concession price of $5 popcorn? Or do you still want to wait to feel safer? Tell us in the comments area how you currently feel. There are no right or wrong answers for how you personally feel about when it’s a good time to return to the movies. Just curious if others will be going as soon as they can.
With the third delay of Tenet and push back to staggered release August and September, China limiting run times to maximum of two hours and the ensuing fallout, it still isn’t a guarantee the theaters will start reopening August 21 as currently planned.
(am hopeful that when and where it is safe to reopen, they do)
The biggest blow that predated the Tenet delay decision came from California, going backwards on their phased rollouts, preventing movie theaters in particular from reopening. Washington state, the first place to have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in January 2020, and the state where we reside, is currently facing a resurgence of the virus.
The 10 states with the most theater locations are in the Comscore graph pictured above.
Currently, less than 17% of the 5,440 movie theater locations in the U.S. are open, according to data from Comscore. However, that number could change if more states rollback reopening plans amid growing numbers of Covid-19 cases.
The big three theater chains are saying they will have an estimated 80% of the theaters reopened by September 4, but as the graph shows, that will require a significant number of reopenings across many states.
Do you think the projected amount of theaters (80%+) in the United States will be reopened in 26 days (the number mentioned at the beginning of this post)? I’m hopeful this happens — assuming it is safe in the areas where reopening — but skeptical.
What’s different this time than the previous delays is how active at least Regal is being about promoting their reopening.
Movie theaters are different from other recreational or social gatherings, the cinema CEO said.
“The cinema sounds like a place with a lot of people and a lot of issues there, but at the end of the day, most of the time that someone is in the cinema, he is in his own seat, he’s not walking around,” he continued. “It’s not a wedding, it’s not a party, it’s not a restaurant. And everyone is facing one direction. And people, usually, while seeing a movie are not singing or talking. They’re watching the movie. We have dedicated points when we enter and go out and we will stagger the showtimes.”
When moviegoers feel comfortable it is safe is an individual choice depending on multiple factors. We’ve been going out in our area to public places like casinos for a couple months now, so we’ll be going back as soon as they reopen. Some readers have commented that they don’t intend to return right away, taking a wait and see approach. There is no wrong answer to the question about when it feels right for moviegoers to return.
Will 80% of theaters reopen by September 4? We’ll find out soon.
Cineworld, owners of Regal Cinemas, and where we watch nearly all new wide release movies in our areas is now saying “all” their movie theaters will be reopened on/by July 10, 2020.
“We are thrilled to be back and encouraged by recent surveys that show that many people have missed going to the movie theater,” CEO Mooky Greidinger said in a statement. The company has deferred salaries for its directors, suspended quarterly dividend pazyments, and said last month that it was seeking $180 million from banks and government support programs to conserve cash and remain a viable business.
Have not received any update from Regal Cinemas as of this writing the status of the Regal Unlimited Pass. (see below) They haven’t billed since March, when around the middle of the month they closed all theaters.
UPDATE 6/16/20 8:47pm PT – Regal sent the following email:
It’s reasonable to assume when they reopen on July they’ll give that partial month free to those of us who paid for the entire month unlimited movies cut short in March 2020 and resume billing in August 2020 for all unlimited pass customers, but this is pure speculation on my part as nothing official has been announced on either their official website or via email to their customers (neither of us have received any email yet).
My speculation is exactly what Regal did for existing subscribers. Billing will resume in August 2020 for unlimited subscribers like us.
AMC has previously stated their plan was to start reopening in theaters in July, but I haven’t seen an official statement with a date attached to when. As linked above, Cineworld is giving specific dates (US – July 10) with some theaters opening in the last couple weeks of June outside the United States.
Will be glad to see theaters reopened in our area. Traffic is on the rise, restaurants and bars are reopening, casinos have already been open for a couple weeks, so bring on the movie theaters.
Will you be at your movie theater on opening day watching movies?
Assuming there are movies we want to see, yes, we’ll be there. I’m guessing they’ll reopen with access to movies that have been released to VOD, since there is only one new wide release movie scheduled on July 1. Mulan is scheduled to open wide on July 24. Warner Bros. delayed Tenet to July 31.
We’ll begin to see more movies start to fill in on/after July 10. The movie theaters need to get some of those summer $$$.
Depending on who’s taking them, how the poll is worded. Remember, the polls overwhelmingly declared Donald Trump had no chance winning against Hillary Clinton.
So, yeah, I’m a little jaded on polls. However, this EDO poll is a little more optimistic about moviegoers returning to theaters if they feel safe.
What’s key to note in the latest survey from EDO is that when respondents were polled initially, they were asked outright if they’d return to cinemas. Those responses drew a near split reaction between likely (40%) and unlikely (36%). However, with the implementation of their desired safety measures, the rate of respondents who said that they were likely to return increased significantly from 40% to 75%. Eighty percent of the EDO sample said the ability to RSVP seats also was a positive factor contributing to their decision to head back to the cinema.
Having hand sanitizer stations everywhere and plexiglass guards on the headrests doesn’t prevent someone with COVID-19 from sneezing outside a mask into the air and it being circled around inside the theater.
I’m onboard with checking temps, enforcing masks, putting up plexiglass guards (as long as they don’t obstruct viewing), selling to 50% capacity so every other chair or more enforce distancing — all of this sounds good, but I’m practical understanding that the risk is still there and no matter how much safety is employed some percentage of moviegoers will not return to movie theaters.
Some may never return.
Although not a guarantee, because my work and life schedule might prevent this, but as soon as I know Regal Cinemas are open in our area showing movies, I’ll be there, whatever safety measures they’ve put in place. Wife and I both will be there.
We love and miss the movie theater experience. We love that more than are afraid we’ll contract COVID-19 from another moviegoer. Neither of us want to get sick, but we have been working the entire time this pandemic happened. We’re interacting with people through work, some in close proximity, so we’ve been running the risk of getting sick all along.
My thinking is if I can get sick at work, using precautions, I might as well not change my entertainment lifestyle too much. Movie theaters, restaurants, concerts, casinos, yes, going to visit them all. Can’t just work and stay at home. That’s not living life. I’m getting out there and doing something.
Sure, it puts me at greater risk doing many of these things I enjoy, but living life fearing death is pointless. We’re all going to die sooner or later. Heck, we’re dying right now. There is an internal clock called aging that never loses. Why spend another day confined to your home when you can get outside and breathe in fresh air, head to the mountains or ocean or lake? Watch birds flying, climb a tree, hike a trail. Plenty of activities outside that don’t involve other people, if that’s your thing.
Once upon a time, people bought and listened to music on a physical format or listened to their favorite song on the radio and then went to the store and bought the album. That world was upended after one too many physical formats and the rise of the internet and Napster. Apple would intervene offering the concept of buying tracks for a buck a song and that pretty much killed off buying full albums. Now, consumers could carve up filler on albums and only buy their favorites.
(vinyl records are enjoying a passionate resurgence in interest, but no idea how long this will last — hopefully a long time!)
Yes, the businesses aren’t exact parallels in study, but check out this quote and apply it to studios and movie theaters.
“What I said out of the gate: It’s a mindset shift,” Bell says. “I was thinking to myself, this is a whole new world for us. Let’s reinvent what we need to do. Operationally we had to shift. We’re already going into an increasingly digital world,
I think the future of movie theaters not only will, but must involve a better sense of embracing technology than they have. There have been some little tech things like before the movies show Nuvee playing interactive games with theater patrons and Regal’s Moviebill experience where you get this interactive magazine with your phone to learn more about the movie and get some cool 3D swag.
That’s a start. More, please.
I’m a champion of using technology to enhance and improve business including marketing, customer experience and satisfaction. There’s more that theaters and studios can do, working together, instead of fighting over the — gasp! — a shortened theatrical window they should be exploring alternative options for how each side can benefit from a world with a shortened or — gasp again! — no window.
Will they do this in a post pandemic world? With no vaccine yet, we are going to have to continue to live in a current virus is out there world for many months, maybe years into the future. Businesses that embrace changes tend to stay healthy longer than those who don’t. I’m hoping movie theater owners will look at technology to help them, not see it as a threat.
The elephant in the world’s room at the moment is the coronavirus. The elephant in the theatrical world is the theatrical window.
Rather than delay indefinitely new movie releases, why not offer people in China the ability to stream movies at home (for a reasonable ticket price)?
I’ve been looking around for others suggesting this and it seems this idea is completely off the table. The more time that goes by that the theaters are closed, why can’t this be explored … at least temporarily?
Obviously, movies aren’t remotely important as protecting human lives, so our thoughts and prayers go out to anybody impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
We’re now going to see Hollywood getting hurt by China’s current theatrical shutdown, as the likes of Bad Boys For Life and Birds of Prey weren’t betting on a big Chinese payday. Even Dolittle was tracking for a $15 million debut when the coronavirus caused the theaters to shut down over what should have been a $1 billion-plus New Year’s weekend. Video game movies (Warcraft, Rampage, Ready Player One, etc.) have been big in China, and a continued blackout could be even more problematic for (much bigger-budgeted) Mulan and No Time to Die.
Collateral damage of a much lesser concern will be box office performance depending on the Chinese market where many theaters are currently shutdown, but there are other ways to release new movies — streaming — than on the big screen.
I don’t understand why streaming options won’t at least be considered, given if a lot more time goes on without a vaccine being available. Yes, I realize this movie industry protects the theatrical window from streaming for 90 days or so because they believe that once that is violated, the movie theater industry will crumble.
Streaming at Home vs. The Movie Theater Experience
I don’t think it’s quite that dramatic at this point for a few simple reasons:
Most people don’t have in-home theater quality TV and surround sound speaker setups
Most people don’t have a bunch of people to join them as they watch a movie on the big screen. There is a social element to watching movies in the theater that is difficult to view in a smaller room and/or alone
Popcorn. Sorry, microwave popcorn is not the same. Yes, you can emulate the movie theater popcorn setup affordably, but most people won’t and don’t have this available.
Date night outside the home. If you want to have date night at home, you can do that any night of the week, but it’s nice to leave home and do something fun with your spouse/significant other/friends away from your home.
Sure, all of these items except the last can be replicated with an in-home system and you don’t have to be Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos. On top of that, you can invite only those who don’t interrupt the movies at home. You can also pause the movies, eat whatever food you want and show movies whenever you want. There are many advantages to watching movies at home versus the theater, but I don’t think enough people have movie theater quality rooms in their homes.
Funny aside: 20 years ago we added a movie room to our home. I wired the walls with high quality sound in preparation for the ultimate surround sound system. For a few years we had the system and I watched movies in there, but it never really felt like the movie theater. I didn’t go the extra mile for the movie theater popcorn, but came about as close as possible 20 years ago to having this room of dreams. I’ve been a cutting edge tech guy in the past.
So, if you have someone like me who could have a room like this and doesn’t prioritize it over a movie theater, my guess is there are many lesser-tech folks who would rather just go out to, for no better reason than, go out.
Re-releasing the New Releases in Theaters
Maybe some of these movies can be re-released in theaters. Again, this is all a lesser concern to finding a cure and making sure human beings wherever they are in the world are protected from harm from this virus.
Informative Articles about Coronavirus
Admittedly, this is going outside the scope of this blog, but a wise person stays informed. I’ve collected some articles to learn more about coronavirus:
How the Coronavirus likely started with a bat [VOX.com]: “The story of the novel coronavirus is the story of HIV, of SARS, of Ebola, and even the measles. These are all diseases that have been introduced to humans — with deadly effects — via animals. And as humans encroach more and more into animal habitats, it’s believed these spillover events may only grow more common.”
Let’s hope that a vaccine is created soon and this outbreak is thoroughly contained. Regardless if it’s happening in America or abroad, viruses that infect any human being anywhere are a concern that we all should agree upon working together to contain and eliminate.
Movie theater owners that want to remain relevant should pay attention.
Dinner and a movie service? Yes. Alcohol? Yes. Comfy recliner seats? Yes. Top notch sound? Yes. Old school arcade games in the lobby?
Hope I don’t sound greedy, but think all will help attract adults to visit your theater more frequently.
Thirty-three percent of those who went to a theater three to five times in the past year spent four to seven hours streaming every week, with 30 percent of those who went to the theater six to eight times in the past year reported spending the same amount of time streaming. Out of those who’ve been to the theater more than nine times in the past year, 31 percent said they stream 15 or more hours per week, according to the study.
Just read this complaint about how “awful” it was watching a movie at the theater these days:
If you have not had to watch films under the same conditions that the general public does, you have no idea how awful an experience it is. We recently went to see “Dark Waters.” We had to buy reserved seats, but the movie theater was practically empty. Then the assault to our senses began with a series of surround sound commercials, followed by awful coming attractions, interspersed with more commercials.
Having seen every wide release movie in the theater for the last 6+ months, I know that reserved seating is a benefit and better for customers. I would rather be able to know where I can sit that nobody else is sitting before buying a ticket and entering the theater and being surprised by what seats are left.
As for previews/trailers before a movie starts? Look at the starting time for a movie and add 15 minutes. Make that your actual starting time for the movie and you’ll skip seeing most/all of the previews. In Regal cinemas, make it 20 minutes. You can tell in Regal Cinemas when the movie is about to start because the brief student film plays right before the movie starts.
Back to reserved seating, if you buy your ticket in advance … say stop by the theater earlier in the day and buy the ticket and reserve your spot, then you don’t have to worry about coming late and getting stuck with a bad seat.
Over 2.5 million movies seen by Regal Unlimited members in 6 months
In August 2019, Kara and I both signed up for Regal Unlimited passes enabling us to see any new 2D movie as many times as we wanted for essentially $22/month USD. I just received a 2019 recap for all the movies seen in 2019:
A total of 68 movies seen in theaters that were all rated and reviewed. According to the email I had $685 USD in “savings” by buying the unlimited plan vs. paying the per visit ticket price (around $12 average per movie).
68 x 12 = $816 $22 x 5 mos. = $110 = 816 – 110 = $708 (my numbers are close enough to theirs)
If you are going to watch 2 or more movies a month in theaters, the unlimited pass is well worth it.
Let’s face it, staying home is not what everybody needs or wants to do. Movies provide a social outlet to get out of the house and do something. We need to stay active in this world or we’re dying. Staying in the home bunker watching on your TV, no matter how elaborate, is not the same social experience. This isn’t “romanticizing” the theater experience as some like to label it.
This year we should watch 100+ movies in the theater. Figure a minimum average of 2 movies open wide every week, and assuming we see all, that’s 104+ movies (52 weeks x 2 = 104 movies).