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Saturday, August 15, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Health issues complicate movie-theater reopenings

Dan Webster

Much like other businesses, movie theaters have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. And things aren't expected to improve anytime soon.

The country's biggest theater chains have pushed back all their releases and most are instituting new protocols to handle health concerns, as this article in the Los Angeles Times reports.

Some of the story's most important quotes:

John Fithian, president and chief executive of the National Assn. of Theatre Owners (NATO) on the prospect of movie treats not opening until a vaccine is available: “This is existential for the movie theater industry. If we go a year without new movies, it’s over.”

Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. Pictures’ president of domestic distribution: “We see this as an important time to work with exhibitors to figure out how to be healthy and responsible at the same time. We’re being smart about it.”

Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony’s motion picture group: “Once theaters can open safely, there’s plenty of product. It’s not a chicken-and-egg situation, it’s a safety issue.”

Brock Bagby, executive vice president of Missouri-based B&B Theatres, which recently opened 16 of its top locations to screen older films such as "Jurassic Park": “The people who have come out to the theater are very appreciative of what we’re doing and the measures we’re taking. Hopefully, people are going to get more comfortable and get acclimated to going back to the movies.”

At this point, Regal Cinemas still plans to open its theaters on July 31 with the Russell Crowe thriller "Unhinged." AMC Theatres plan to open a day earlier. No word yet on either of the Village Centers Cinemas locations (Airway Heights and Wandermere).

Until the day we can all safely brave the theaters again, here's to home streaming.

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