Monday Movie Report: Theaters, production companies respond to COVID-19

The COVID-19 coronavirus continues to have an impact on industries across the country, including movie theaters.

Here in Bemidji, Minn., the local cinema is operated by CEC Theatres. In a statement, CEC officials noted that the facilities are remaining open, for now.

“As it has always been, the safety and security of our guests and team members remain our highest priority. in response to the coronavirus, we have taken additional measures to make our cleaning and hygiene protocols even more rigorous.”

According to the statement, this includes increased cleaning efforts, deploying more hand sanitizer stations and not letting employees work.

“We hope that you will be respectful of other guests and not visit our theatre if you are sick” the statement read. “If you have purchased tickets in advance and become ill, please call the theatre you purchased your tickets and we will gladly issue a refund so you can visit us at a later date.”

Marcus Theatres, meanwhile, a chain with many locations in the Midwest, announced Monday that it is limiting seating capacity at its sites. The ticketing system will make certain seating unavailable in order to accomplish additional space between guests.

“We are closely monitoring the evolving coronavirus situation and working under the directino provided by local health agencies,” said Marcus Chairman, President and CEO Rolando Rodriguez. “In addition to increased cleaning procedures… we are now taking additional precaution of adjusting our seating plan to limit capacity in our theatres.”

The situation is similar at AMC Theatres, which announced it is also limiting seat capacity by allowing only 50% of seats in auditoriums. The rule will be in place until April 30.

Regal Movies is also reducing auditorium capacity by 50% and are complying with mandates on social gathering limits, according to an online statement.

Last week, another announcement was made by Landmark Theatres, which operates cinemas showing more independent pictures. Landmark has also set a 50% capacity limit.

In addition to theaters, movie studios themselves are backing off from releases and production. Films by studios under the Disney umbrella, including the live action “Mulan,” the comic book flick “New Mutants” and the sci fi/horror “Antlers” have all been pushed back.

Other pictures being pushed back because of the virus include the next James Bond movie “No Time to Die,” “Fast and Furious 9” and “A Quiet Place 2.”

Disney, according to Variety, has also halted production on movies including “The Last Duel, “The Little Mermaid,” “Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings,” a new “Home Alone,” “Nightmare Alley,” and “Peter Pan and Wendy.”

At the box office this weekend, the slow down was certainly noticed, too, as only “Onward” made more than $10 million, and just barely did so relatively speaking.

The full top five was:

1. Onward – $10,532,000
2. I Still Believe – $9,500,000
3. Bloodshot – $9,300,000
4. The Invisible Man – $6,000,000
5. The Hunt – $5,320,000

Not much is coming in terms of new flicks at the theater this week. However, there are still new home releases:

  • Jumanji: The Next Level, my rating: 3.85 out of 5, Large Association of Movie Blogs rating: 3.27 out of 5, Rotten Tomatoes rating: 71%, MetaCritic rating: 58.
  • Richard Jewell, my rating: 3.75 out of 5, Large Association of Movie Blogs rating: 3.63 out of 5, Rotten Tomatoes rating: 76%, MetaCritic rating: 68.
  • Black Christmas, my rating: 1.5 out of 5, Large Association of Movie Blogs rating: 2.08 out of 5, Rotten Tomatoes rating: 38%, MetaCritic rating: 49.
  • A Hidden Life, Rotten Tomatoes rating: 80%, MetaCritic rating: 78.

Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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