This market insight discusses the impact of the coronavirus on the industry and provides details of the Covid-19 tracker which offers updates on the closure and re-openings of cinema screens in 75 markets worldwide.

OMDIA Cinema Intelligence has launched a COVID-19 tracker, which offers the most up-to-date information on the closure and re-openings of cinema screens in 75 markets worldwide because of measures taken by governments and exhibitors to contain the spread of the Covid-19.

The report contains a dashboard to track the status and progress by region, with charts displaying historical trends and key developments by region, and an overview of each of the 75 markets with their most recent reported status.

Data from the tracker shows that 94% of the world’s cinema screens are now closed due to the actions taken by governments and companies in response to COVID-19. Go to the Cinema Intelligence and Cinema Intelligence Premium home pages to find the tracker.

Sony Pictures has re-jigged its release slate to take into account of the closure of cinemas. The new release schedule is below (original release date in brackets):

  • Ghostbusters (July 10, 2020) March 5, 2021
  • Morbius (July 31, 2020) March 19, 2021
  • Greyhound (June 12, 2020) TBD
  • Fatherhood (January 15, 2021) October 23, 2020
  • Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (August 7, 2020) January 15, 2021
  • Uncharted (March 5, 2021) October 8, 2021
  • Untitled Sony/Marvel (October 8, 2021) TBD

This reworking of the release schedule is a sign that few distributors expect the summer schedule to operate as normal, especially the early part (May to July). Different parts of a country may be in different phases of the spread of COVID-19 but releasing tentpole movies doesn’t really make economic sense unless all cinemas can be accessed. In this light, a strategy of co-ordinating the opening of cinemas across a country makes some sense. However, as already stated, the unknown is the response of the public to cinema re-opening: the delta between the official date of re-opening and the time that people feel comfortable that this space is a safe one is key to this.

A recent consumer survey in the USA looking at the attitude to public events has a mixed message for cinemas. Just under half (49%) of the 1,000 people surveyed answered ‘a few months’ or ‘possibly never’ for their timescale to return to the cinema. Just over a quarter (28%) said they would attend less frequently, 58% said their pattern of visits would be the same and 15% would go more. Cinemas were not as affected as some other activities (such as music concerts). The study was published by Performance Research, a sports and events research firm, in partnership with Full Circle Research Company.

Government actions, clear messaging and breakthroughs in testing and vaccines will play a key part in assessing and minimising this as yet unknown period of time when people are fearful of out-of-home entertainment. It is also to be expected that hygiene and cleanliness measures taken by cinemas (and communicated to the public) will also play a key role in a smooth re-opening.

US dining cinema circuit Alamo Drafthouse has launched Alamo At Home, a programming service drawing on its film archive. The service begins by bringing back Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday into a digital online format. This comes under an initiative called Virtual Cinema, which screens classic films online in association with distributors Kino Lorber, Film Movement and Magnolia Pictures. Kino Lorber has also launched Kino Marquee, with 150 screens now signed up including Alamo and Laemmle Theatres. It was launched to support independent cinemas in the US, as audiences pay to view pics digitally during the period that cinemas are closed.

In the UK, some indie distributors have set up systems that will help support independent cinemas through this period. UK distributor Modern Films has released The Perfect Candidate digitally (originally scheduled for theatrical release on 27th March) , including its own website, and gives buyers the option to donate some of the purchase price to a cinema of their choice. There are just over 20 cinemas in the scheme at present. Similarly, 606 Distribution is releasing System Crasher on Vimeo and again giving the option to support a cinema with the purchase.