In Marcus Theatres’ Q2 earnings call, held this morning, president and CEO Greg Marcus confirmed a planned August reopening for Marcus locations.
Marcus—the fourth largest exhibitor in the U.S. as of the end of January 2020, with 1,106 screens spread across 91 locations in 17 states—began their phased reopening on June 19 with the opening of six locations. Now, per Marcus, “we expect the majority of our theaters to reopen in late August” in time for a slate of new Hollywood releases—including Unhinged and a re-release of Christopher Nolan’s Inception on August 21, New Mutants on August 28, and Nolan’s Tenet on September 3 in select markets.
The reopening of Marcus locations is being paired with the implementation of the chain’s Movie STAR approach to ensure safety for customers and employees. Seating will initially be reduced by 50 percent and arranged in a checkerboard pattern to ensure social distancing. Showtimes will be staggered, allowing extra time for cleaning between shows in addition to limiting the flow of crowds through common areas. Masks, in addition, will be required by patrons save when they are eating and drinking.
Other elements of the Movie STAR program include encouraging patrons to purchase tickets online or through the Marcus app, utilizing signage to encourage social distancing, and increasing cleaning. Additional information on Movie STAR can be found on the Marcus Theatres website.
In addition to discussing the whens and hows of Marcus Theatres’ upcoming reopening, Marcus addressed the AMC/Universal agreement that could see theatrical windows significantly shrink throughout the industry. In terms of general fears surrounding a possible increased move to PVOD, Marcus sees hope in the fact that most studios have moved the majority of their films further down the schedule instead of moving them to PVOD. Further, he notes:
“Our relationships with the film studios are very important to us. We are partners in an $11 to $12 billion U.S. exhibition industry and an over $40 billion industry worldwide. It’s an established fact that film studios derive a significant portion of their return on investment in film content from theatrical distribution. In the past months, while theaters have been closed, studios have continued to acknowledge that there’s no economic model to recover the size of the investment in a big theatrical movie without theatrical revenue. … We believe both studios and exhibition are aligned in the interest to preserve the experience for our valued customers. We believe an appropriate theatrical window is an integral part that aligned interest.”
The position of Marcus Theatres, he continues, is that “any change in the existing model needs to be a win/win/win for the studios, the exhibitors, and the customer. Our common goal should be to grow the size of the pie.”