A view of the Regal Loews Cinemas cinema in Times Square in New York City.
Noam Galai | Getty Images
After almost a year of closure, New York cinemas will be allowed to open on March 5th, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.
City cinemas are allowed 25% occupancy, which is in line with current rules for locations in the rest of New York State.
The cinema’s announcement follows a series of steps the governor has taken in recent weeks to reopen the state’s economy. Major New York City arenas like Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden are preparing to welcome a limited number of fans for live basketball games starting Tuesday.
Last week, Cuomo said indoor family entertainment centers like arcades, trampoline parks, and laser tag facilities could reopen from March 26th, and outdoor amusement parks may return on April 9th with limited capacity.
“New York cinemas will be aligned with the rest of the state: 25% capacity; no more than 50 people per showing; masks; assigned seating; social distancing; staff to control occupancy, traffic and seating to ensure compliance , “Said Cuomo. “You need the standards set by DOH for improved air filtration, ventilation and cleaning.”
Cuomo has repeatedly stated that the state saw the end of its coronavirus surge after the holiday, while warning of the emergence of highly contagious strains of the virus, such as the B.1.1.7 strain first identified in the UK, which are affecting the state’s progress and it could reverse downtrend in cases.
New York reports a weekly average of 7,400 Covid-19 cases per day, a decrease of more than 13% from the previous week and the lowest average in the state since early December. This comes from a CNBC analysis of the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
“Theater owners are excited to announce that New York cinemas are safe to reopen,” the National Association of Theater Owners said in a statement. “Strict voluntary health and safety protocols have enabled cinemas across the country to operate safely and responsibly at higher capacity for many months without a single outbreak of COVID-19 attributable to cinemas.”
“New York City is an important market for admissions in the US. The reopening gives distributors confidence in the determination and compliance with their theatrical releases and is an important step for the recovery of the entire industry,” said the group, representing more than 33,000 screens in the United States USA
A key market
New York City is a major hub for movie ticket sales. There are nearly 300 movie theaters in New York state, but the main geographic metric that analysts focus on is the New York Designated Market Area (DMA).
This is an area of New York City that includes part of Connecticut and New Jersey and excludes cinemas north of Albany and west of Cooperstown. Within this DMA there are 234 cinemas, which according to Comscore account for 7.4% of the total domestic box office.
This is the second highest driver of ticket sales in the US, just behind the DMA in Los Angeles which accounts for 8.9%.
New York City has above average ticket prices and population density, which means it generates more money for the industry than other areas in the US and Canada. This is one of the reasons the studios have been keen to add films to the calendar and wait for New York theaters to reopen to the public.
The city also had massive advertising penetration. Movies that do well in the city create buzz and help sell tickets in other parts of the country.
Not to mention that New York City is symbolically important as it is one of the places where a high concentration of Hollywood producers, directors and actors live in the area.