Last updated 30 June

It is now two months since Georgia became the first US state to allow movie theaters to re-open from Monday April 27. This past month has seen a first batch of traditional theaters re-open in 18 further states. Forty states now have some traditional theaters operating. A month ago Gower Street took a look at how the number of theaters open was progressing in each state. We promised to provide updates. This week we revisit our choropleth graph to see what progress there has been.

The interactive choropleth graph above shows the percentage of reporting movie theaters by state for last weekend (June 26-28). To explore what is going on in your, or other states, hover over each state on the interactive map and it will display the percentage of cinemas reporting, the number of individual cinemas reporting, and the total number in the state that normally report to Comscore.

While growth may be slow there has been progress. When last we reported on this topic in Screendollars, we looked at the May 15-17 weekend. That weekend had seen approximately 270 movie theaters reporting business to Comscore. A few days later we updated the graph on our website to look at the May 22-24 Memorial Day weekend, which showed an increase to over 410. The number of open theaters has more than doubled during June. While a majority of Domestic theaters may still be closed last weekend (June 26-28) saw the total number of theaters reporting business top 1,000 for the second weekend in a row.

At the time, much was made in the press about Georgia going first. In actuality, the first three traditional theaters to re-open in the state did so for the following weekend, on May 1, at which point the first traditional theaters in North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming also opened. Alaska, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, and South Dakota followed over the next two weeks before eight more states started to see their first traditional theaters opening up for Memorial Day weekend. Colorado, Nevada and Pennsylvania followed a week later.

Traditional theaters have re-opened in 18 states in June, most recently Connecticut on June 19. The remaining 10 states currently remain Drive-In only. New Jersey had seen one traditional theater re-open June 5, but it was told to close again by the end of that week.

However, the growth is not just coming from new states opening up, it is also expansion of those already in play. There may have only been limited growth in Georgia, going from 19 to 26 reporting since Memorial Day, but Ohio (now 63), Iowa (55), Minnesota (50) and California (44) have all seen more than 40 theaters re-open in the past month. Texas, the state with the most theaters reporting last weekend (92), has added more than 30 in the past month, as have Florida (47) and Kansas (34).

It should be noted that we can only track theaters that report business to our partners at Comscore Movies. This is not necessarily the case for all drive-in theaters, especially pop-up venues. Both Hawaii and New Mexico continue to show as zero theaters open. Hawaii’s new (and only) drive-in opened May 20 at Pali Lanes in Kailua but since then has not played every week and did not play last weekend. It’s next scheduled performances will be for the July 2-4 weekend with, appropriately, INDEPENDENCE DAY. New Mexico has seen several new pop-up drive-ins opening, including in Las Cruces, Farmington and Edgewood, to join its one pre-existing drive-in, the Fort Union in Las Vegas. However, none of these are reporting business despite operating.

The June 19-21 weekend saw three states hit the Stage 2 goal on our Blueprint To Recovery (a single day of box office equivalent to the lowest grossing day recorded during the previous two years). Wyoming hit the target on June 19; Kansas, Kentucky and Utah June 20. They join Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia, which have previously reached the Stage 2 target. In Canada, Quebec hit the Stage 2 target on June 12, followed by Ontario a day later. New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island had previously done so.

No US state or Canadian province has come close to achieving the Stage 3 target as yet (a weekly box office gross equivalent to the lowest grossing week recorded during the previous two years). However, last week saw the first international market to do so: Japan.

July had been expected to see notable further Domestic re-openings with major exhibition chains AMC, Regal, Cinemark and Cineplex all having announced re-opening plans. But new challenges continue to present themselves. A flare-up in virus cases in some states is causing further consternation and plans to change. Warner Bros has moved TENET for a second time, now back to August 12, taking up the former WONDER WOMAN 1984 date. This was quickly followed by Disney repositioning MULAN back a month to August 21 and Solstice Studios bumping UNHINGED three weeks into the July 31 slot left by TENET. BILL AND TED FACE THE MUSIC quickly moved off August 14 and will now go August 28. At time of writing it waited to be seen if the calendar changes and virus spikes would alter exhibitor plans. Further calendar changes are inevitable.

Gower Street is continually watching what is happening in every state in its Domestic Road To Recovery report. We will continue to track new openings or any market contractions.

This article was original published in Screendollars’ newsletter #123 (June 29, 2020)