Peter Bart: Cinemas Confront Doomsday Scenarios As Studios Waffle On Release Dates

Peter Bart: Cinemas Confront Doomsday Scenarios As Studios Waffle On Release Dates
It seems like a distant memory — taking refuge in the welcoming comfort of a movie theater. And now it may become even more distant. Key players at the studios are worried that summer openings may simply not happen; further, that scores of movie theaters may not survive the year. Equally alarming: Ticket buyers are rearranging their habits, and their homes, to accommodate a future of watching the passing parade from their couches.

“We took the summer play dates for granted, but then we also assumed that the festivals would survive,” confides one distressed distributor. When theaters finally open, he fears, they will have to reinvent everything from seating to pricing to windowing. “Our leverage has been lost along with our audiences,” said one exhibitor.

Officially, decisions are still clouded. Two movies — Tenet from Warner

Bros and Mulan from Disney — have become the symbols of recovery. Both had warily announced July openings,
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