Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi remained confident this morning on the exhibitor’s Q1 call that Warner Bros.’ Christopher Nolan movie Tenet will remain on track and open on its planned July 17 release date.
While Solstice Studios’ Unhinged will be the first new wide release movie in those theaters that are open on July 1, Tenet with a production budget of $200M reps the first major studio tentpole which has exhibition hopeful about moviegoers’ return en masse to the cinema.
“We’ve been in close contact with Warner Bros. and they remain optimistic and positive as well as Christopher Nolan about the July 17 opening,” said Zoradi this morning in response to a question from analyst Eric Handler about the pic’s release. This despite the fact that New York and Los Angeles have yet to set a date for the reopening of movie theaters.
“Of course, it depends on the continued positive movement due to the decline of COVID-19 and government restrictions being reduced,” added the exhibition boss.
Zoradi continued to emphasize that even with reduced auditorium capacities at 50%, “we can operate profitability with all the (safety) techniques we put in place.”
Still, while Warner Bros seems upbeat about Tenet opening on July 17, and noticed a huge positive response from the second trailer they dropped recently on Fortnite indicating a “pent-up demand to see the movie…we can’t promise you nor Warner Bros that Tenet can open on July 17,” said Zoradi, but the chain “has to choose a date that you can plan to” when it comes to reopening.
Should Warner Bros. change the release date for Tenet, Zoradi told investors and analysts, that the chain’s phased reopening plan between June 19 and July 10 can be shifted and is “flexible”, and there won’t be any negative financial impact should the exhibitor be required to pivot and delay reopening by 4-5 weeks.
If there’s any release change with Tenet, Zoradi expects that decision “in the not distant future. I can’t speak for them, but it will be before June,” and that’s because the studio has to push the button and spend on hard media for the Nolan movie.
Also on today’s call, Zoradi says he expects the chain’s Latin American theaters to open in August given how the COVID-19 pandemic trailed the U.S. outbreak.
In addition, he cited the EDO study published exclusively on Deadline, which cited that moviegoers’ interest in returning to theaters jumped from 40% to 75% if COVID-19 restrictions are put into place at cinemas. Among those safety measurements that Cinemark will implement include, but are not limited to, disinfecting seats and high touch areas, providing ample amount of seat and hand sanitizers, screening the health of employees; guests and employees’ wearing of masks, seat buffering technology, and the reduced use of paper tickets.
Zoradi today said that Cinemark’s phased reopening between June 19 and July 10 will occur with five theaters opening in the first week around the chain’s Dallas Fort Worth area HQ followed by a third of the chain’s theaters in the second week, another third in the subsequent week, and the remaining theaters leading into the July 10-12 weekend. During this time, the exhibitor will be testing its systems, and programming studio catalog titles at reduced ticket prices.