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How Movie Theaters Large And Small Are Navigating Reopening Amid Coronavirus

People return to the movie theatre at Cinema Nova in Carlton on June 22, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia.
People return to the movie theatre at Cinema Nova in Carlton on June 22, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia.
Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

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As many parts of society have begun to reopen slowly, movie theaters have been cautious to follow suit, not only due to the fact that (at least here in L.A. County) there has yet to be guidance issued from the county level on how movie theaters should reopen, but also because of the uncertainty of what moviegoing will look like now in an industry that was struggling before the pandemic and now faces an additional set of challenges thanks to the threat of COVID-19.

Even the country’s largest chain, AMC, has expressed concern about its ability to continue operations if theaters remain closed for much longer, though they have announced plans to reopen on July 15. And that’s to say nothing of the smaller arthouse and indie theaters, abundant here in L.A. Some of them, like Laemmle’s and The Frida Cinema in Santa Ana have partnered with studios and distributors to create virtual cinemas and bring in some revenue, but they face a completely different set of challenges than the large theater chains do. Many own the buildings where their theater is, unlike the major exhibitors, and audiences for the indie and arthouse theaters are often older, putting them in a higher-risk group for catching coronavirus.

Today on FilmWeek, we’ll hear takes from voices representing large theater chains and smaller, family-owned theaters about what they’re considering as theaters get set to reopen and what they envision moviegoing might look like when they do.


John Horn, host of KPCC’s “The Frame” and the new podcast “Hollywood, The Sequel” from KPCC and LAist Studios; he tweets @JGHorn

Patrick Corcoran, vice president and chief communications officer of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO)

Greg Laemmle, president and CEO of Laemmle Theatres; he tweets @greglaemmle