The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, which is as unfortunate a statement as it is true. Cases are rising in many states, including an exponential explosion of positive test results in states like Florida. The bad news is worrying as states try to emerge from this spring’s full shutdown, and industries are looking closely at trends and what’s considered safe as conditions change.
One industry looking closely at southern states is movie theaters and studios, as the delicate balance between opening for business and keeping customers safe has made a mess of the movie release schedule this year. Theaters have largely been shut down since March, and with that shutdown a number of movies have been pushed to the fall at the very least. Movies like Tenet were supposed to be the first to hit newly-reopened theaters, but another delay earlier in the week has the movie industry worried that more delays are coming.
The Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony, are beloved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for helming the latter Avengers films. But according to an interview with Kevin McCarthy, both directors are rightfully skeptical about when it will be safe to return to theaters.
"Unfortunately, I don't see myself getting into a theatre in the foreseeable feature." -Anthony Russo
Asked their thoughts on theatres reopening & TENET's 7/31 release. Now opening 8/12. pic.twitter.com/aLpIem1f4y
— Kevin McCarthy (@KevinMcCarthyTV) June 26, 2020
“I think everyone has a different threshold for risk, it seems, in the country right now. I think that really depends what your threshold for risk is, but certainly being in an enclosed space is a high-risk situation,” Joe Russo said in the interview. “So there’s the question of whether we want that to happen, which we do, but whether that’s practical and safe and whether we can recommend it, which I don’t think we could. Just from the way that I’m approaching the pandemic with my family is we’re very conservative about it.”
The analysis is completely factual, but definitely not what theater owners and the rest of Hollywood would like to admit. Even wearing a mask in a theater is a minor controversy that theaters haven’t fully settled on, and it’s entire unclear what percentage of the movie-going populace will feel comfortable heading inside darkened theaters with strangers.
Anthony Russo described himself as “desperate” to go back to the movies, but also worried about the risk of opening theaters and leaving it up to individuals to make that decision.
“At the end of the day, where are you gonna put the risk? I think there are more immediate places to put the risk in terms of human connection than a theater full of strangers, unfortunately,” Russo said. “It’s a very personal question, and it depends on people’s individual circumstances, but unfortunately, I don’t see myself getting into a theater in the foreseeable future.”
All that said, Joe Russo said he thinks people will show up whenever Tenet hits theaters. But like many people, even two huge directors who make movies aren’t sure whether they’re willing to be among that crowd.