Ever since theaters were forced to close due to the pandemic and movie studios began to shift around release dates for major projects, the theatrical movie business has been in something of a catch-22. Theaters need to be open for these movies to have someplace to screen, and release delays have continued to get pushed back while theaters remained closed. And if movies keep being pushed back, then theaters have nothing new to show upon reopening. Regal Cinemas have remained closed even in places where they're allowed to open because it just wasn't financially feasible to open. But that's about to change thanks to Godzilla vs Kong.
Regal Cinemas, the second largest chain in the U.S., originally closed in March of 2020 along with all the other movie theaters nationwide. Theaters attempted reopening in many places over last summer, and that included many Regal locations. However, eventually Regal's U.K. parent company Cineworld decided to close theaters down again, not because of a resurgence in coronavirus, but simply because being open wasn't profitable without the major new releases that are the life blood of the theatrical model. But now Cineworld has announced that Regal theaters in the U.S. will be opening beginning April 2 and will screen Godzilla vs. Kong, and will follow that a couple weeks later with Mortal Kombat.
Both movies are Warner Bros. productions and this plan is part of a new deal the theater chain has made with the studio. According to Variety, the deal also includes a new 45-day theatrical window for WB films that will start in 2022. All of WB's 2021 films are already debuting on the HBO Max streaming service day and date with theaters. In fact, Godzilla vs. Kong will hit the streaming service a few days before it opens in Regal theaters.
As vaccinations increase it feels like we're finally turning a corner and as theaters in major locations like New York and L.A. finally begin to reopen, it seems less likely that we'll see them close again. The larger question at this point, is one of consumer confidence. Just because theaters are open does not mean that everybody who can go to the movies again will be quite ready to do so.
With Regal being the second largest chain in the U.S. behind AMC, theaters reopening will be good news for those whose closest theater is a Regal location. Those who want to see Kong vs. Godzilla on the big screen will likely be willing to wait a couple of days to do so, or perhaps more likely, they'll watch it once on HBO Max and then see it again on the big screen.