Paulie’s Perspective: No Masks, No Service

Movie theaters in the USA are indeed making plans to reopen again and thank the Lord!! I know I’ve missed them dearly. The big issue though, is what they said in their opening statements or tweets. 

No Masks Required.

Hold up. No masks required? 200 people in a movie theatre, not counting the whole building, just the one room, and no one needs to wear a mask? That ain’t right. When pressed on why the idiocy, the theaters retorted, “we don’t want to make this a political issue”. 

Oh boy, here we go, Trump has done it again. Trump plants ideas into the world and Americans pick them up like they were taken from the bible. When players knelt against police brutality, Trump convinced America they were kneeling to disrespect the flag and the national anthem. Now when we want to wear masks to stay alive, Trump divides us once again. Since Trump has asked his supporters to not wear masks during his Tulsa rally, Americans think – oh, if you wear a mask, you’re going against our President and therefore this country and the Constitution. If you don’t wear a mask, you’re a true American and a Trump supporter and you love this country. What?

So pushed again, citing things like the amazing rise of cases and deaths in Arizona and the situation in Florida, where they have been experiencing 2,000 new cases every single day since the beaches opened and they refused to wear masks, movie theaters have come to their senses.

“This is not a political issue” AMC now says, and will require all who enter to wear a mask, including employees. “If a patron does not have one, they will be supplied with one.” Now that is good to hear. Finally science prevails and lives can be saved and life may try and go on. 

450 theaters of AMC will open in USA on July 15. All 600 chains should be fully open and operational by July 24. (Just in time for Disney’s Mulan. Coincidence?) You know the first movie shown will be probably the biggest hit of all time. Not seeing a film in over 4 months here in NYC, I know it’s gonna be packed in every viewing, if it’s Ishtar. 

What made AMC change their minds – well we think it was not only the social media backlash but a small independent movie chain, The Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas. 

After AMC made their statement about not enforcing the masks, Alamo released their statement – “When we open, the safety of our teammates and guests cannot be compromised. This is not political. We will require that guests wear masks at the theater. Those without a mask will be given one” Since that statement seemed to go over very well and without backlash, I think AMC saw that it was ok to do it. I guess they were gonna see if Trump went after them. Morons. 

All movie chains were shut down in mid-March because of the virus. Now they are all seem to be planning their glorious openings. Regal and Cinemark have left the decision up to the local authorities – let’s see if they change their minds. 

Now we got all that settled – here’s another concern – what about the old people. 55 and up, are going to be a major concern, not only for safety but for marketing. Films like The Biggest Liar, Book Club, Hope Springs, all were marketed for the senior crowd. Now with that age group being the most vulnerable, do studios market toward them, release films geared toward them? Probably not. Data shows 41% of tickets sold in North America went to those 40 and up. In a recent poll, the majority of ages 55 and up said they were in no hurry to return to the theaters. 60% percent of 25 or younger said they will return “as soon as possible”. So you kind of have your demographic and your audience already set. Disney’s Mulan is really set to have a historic opening and box office run. Their film is directed at kids and that film will probably be the first movie to open up the movie houses. They got the right demographic, and the right timing. Still the 40 and up age group accounts for a large part of the box office. So films may not do as well as they used for a few months more, until that age group feels it’s safe enough to returns, and that there is a movie they are interested enough to return to see. I know I’m not waiting for Indiana Jones 5 or anything like that. But I’m certainly not rushing back into the fire to see a remake of a remake like Mulan. I already own it, why dive into the cesspool and spend all that money to see something I already have. 

“It makes more sense for a cinema to program for the “invincibles” those 18-25 who believe nothing can happen to them” says a movie distributor. He’s right, because those kids are the ones who will be filling up the theaters. The kids who have been cooped up for 4 months with nowhere to go and nothing to do. They certainly do not want to rush in and see Bridges of Madison County. So studios will most likely schedule releases accordingly. 

The main point here is that we reopen, and we do it safely. Our well being is not political, our safety measures are not political. Trump is scaring businesses into doing his bidding or he will tweet against you. It’s not right and puts every American in danger. Movie theaters, as Spike Lee said, Do The Right Thing. Make masks a requirement, so we can all return to our lives safely. No one wants to be like Mookie, where they go out and deliver a pizza, and never come back.

Follow Paul on Twitter: @pauliek2003

The views expressed in this column are that of the author and does not reflect those of Place To Be