In some parts of the country — like Georgia, for examplemovie theaters will be able to open as soon as next week. The key word there is able. Just because they can, doesn’t mean they will, as exhibitors weigh the risks of opening their doors before the coronavirus pandemic is fully under control.

The other issue for theaters is figuring out what to show even if they do reopen next week. The 2020 summer movie season is basically postponed at this point, with every major studio delaying all of their big titles from April, May, and June until later this year or even into 2021. Today, the nation’s largest theater chain, AMC, announced that its theaters will remain closed at least until Hollywood resumes something like a regular release schedule.

Here is their statement on the news (via THR):

As we plan our reopening, the health and safety of our guests and associates is our absolute highest priority. To be able to open, we also need a line of sight into a regular schedule of new theatrical blockbusters that get people truly excited about returning to their favorite movie theatres. Those blockbusters are scheduled to return this summer, beginning with Warner Brothers’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan, with many more major titles scheduled immediately thereafter.

Tenet is currently scheduled for release on July 17; Mulan was originally expected in theaters on March 27; it’s new release date is July 24. Of course, it wouldn’t take much for either of those dates to move. If the country experiences a new rise in cases some time in May or June, that could be the last straw for Warner Bros. and Disney. If AMC holds to this plan, and something delays Tenet and Mulan, then they wouldn’t open until some time around August 14, when Wonder Woman 1984 is currently scheduled. Unless that gets bumped back too, and so on and so forth.

This shows you just how tricky it will be to get movie theaters back up and running. It’s not just a matter of getting the virus under control. There needs to be movies to show too — and a lot of these movies cost so much to make and market that studios will not take a piecemeal approach to a release. If theaters in Georgia are open, for example, but the rest of the country remains closed, Disney’s not going to let them show Mulan. Enough theaters need to be open to make it worth their while financially. Which means we might be waiting for theaters for reopen even longer than we thought.

Gallery — What We Miss Most About Going to the Movie Theater:

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