To say that there's a large amount of uncertainty around the world right now would be an understatement. With the Coronavirus still raging (in America at least) many businesses are forcing themselves to reopen in the midst of a pandemic or they would be forced go out of business. Movie theaters are one such business that will be attempting reopening in the following weeks, which means they have a massive struggle ahead of them.
First, theaters are going to have to find ways to lure people in. With no end in sight for the pandemic in America, theaters will have to come up with reasons people will want to leave the comfort and safety of their homes. Theaters are hoping that the draw of new blockbuster films like "Tenet" and "Mulan" will be enough to bring large amounts of people to the theaters. However, many people could be willing to wait for these films to just release on home video and streaming services. The struggle in this "new normal" will be finding films worth possibly risking your health and the health of others for. In order for guests to feel safe, theaters are going to have to step up safety measures.
One key safety measure in these early stages of reopening is limiting seating capacity in the theaters. Many theaters will only sell half of the seats in each auditorium to promote spacing people out and reduce the risk of spreading the disease to others. While this is the right thing to do, it does limit the amount of money the theaters can take in especially if those theaters avoid selling concessions in the first weeks of reopening. Concession sales are how movie theaters make a majority of their money (which is why they are so expensive). Some theaters might limit or close concessions for the first stages of reopening in order to avoid conflicting with their mandatory mask policy. Without this form of revenue, some theaters might actually lose money in the first few weeks.
The ultimate struggle, however, will be competing with streaming services. The pandemic created a surge in customers for streaming services and many films that would have had theatrical runs, such as "Troll: World Tour" and "Scoob", were released straight to video on demand. Many film companies have been releasing their smaller films on streaming services, which means it makes theaters solely reliant on huge blockbusters to make money. This also limits the amount of films shown in theaters and will limit attendance overall.
Theaters are going to have a hard time facing all of these obstacles. Do I think this marks the end for all theaters everywhere; I cannot say. Nothing is certain in these uncertain times, but I will say that theaters and theater going may change forever. I doubt every theater in America will go out of business, but I do feel that we may never 100% go back to the way things were before the virus. The struggle for theaters is ahead of them and I hope they can see it through.