This market insight provides updates on the impact of COVID-19 (as at 28/4/20); discusses potential re-opening dates in Spain, France and the US state of Texas, as well as distribution.

The Governor of Texas is allowing movie theatres to open from 1 May, operating at a maximum 25% capacity. The Governor is also allowing restaurants, retailers, and malls to open at the same capacity level. However, the larger circuits are still discussing a timing of mid-July with measures in place for several months. Texan circuit Alamo Drafthouse has said it will not be opening its cinemas yet and won’t do so until it can do this safely.

The Spanish government has presented its phased plan for opening up the economy. Cinemas come under Phase 2, whereby they can open from 25 May with limited capacity. This phase also includes inside restaurants, museums and exhibition centres.

The French government has presented a plan to open up parts of the French economy on 11 May, but cinemas, bars and restaurants are not part of this. They will probably be looked at in early June. 

The CEO of French exhibitor MK2 (an arthouse circuit and also owner of Cinesur in Spain) says July is not a viable timeline for opening in France and cinemas should not open until the prospect of going to a cinema is not a “scary experience”. Less subjectively, while social distancing measures are in place, cinemas will have to operate on much lower capacity than they would like at peak times. The exhibitor also said Spain is looking at a re-opening of cinemas in the latter part of the fourth quarter of 2020.

Universal has released data concerning the digital release of its movie Trolls World Tour. Studio says that it has sold nearly five million downloads at $19.99 a time, with a return of 80% of that to the studio. Some 51% of those who rented the movie would have definitely seen the movie in a cinema in normal times. The overall net result to them is greater than would have been taken in cinemas, after an exhibitor split, and assuming a similar return as the first title. The marketing of the movie for its theatrical run had largely been done so awareness amongst its target audience was high already. This is only the result on one window and the overall release strategy of a movie takes into account revenue maximisation across all windows. It is also the case that some titles and genres will work better on digital release than others.

Sony Pictures is moving Spider-Man: Homecoming to 5 November 2021, from its original slot on 16 July 2021. The following chapter, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Sequel, is now opening on 7 October 2022, moving out from 8 April 2022. As well as these Sony/Marvel titles, other Sony movies that have shifted include:

  • Animated movie Connected moves a month from 18 September 2020 to 23 October 2020
  • Escape Room 2 will launch one day later on 1 January 2021 instead of 30 December 2020
  • Fatherhood now releases on 2 April 2021 instead of 23 October 2020
  • Sony Pictures Animation’s Vivo is now being released on 4 June 2021 instead of 16 April 2021
  • Uncharted is now being coming out on 16 July 2021, bringing it forward from 8 October 2021
  • Hotel Transylvania 4 is also being brought forward from 22 December 2021 to now open on 6 August 2021
  • Comedy Man From Toronto moves out ten months to 17 September 2021, from 20 November 2020
  • The Nightingale was scheduled for 25 December 2020 but is now undated.

Disney is also moving the new Dr Strange title Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness from 5 November 2021 to 25 March 2022. Disney’s Thor: Love and Thunder is moving a week earlier than planned to 11 February 2022. 

Paramount has moved the release of Mission: Impossible 7 from 23 July 2021 to 19 November 2021. The shooting on this film in Italy was halted at the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. In turn, the release of MI8 has also been shifted, from 5 August 2022 to 4 November 2022. Other films to be moving are The Tomorrow War, which was already shifted from its 25 December 2020 slot and is now dated at 23 July 2021. Paramount have also moved Dungeons & Dragons reboot from 19 November 2021 to 27 May 2022, the Memorial Day slot in the USA. Lastly, the thriller Spell is now undated after being moved from 28 August 2020.