If there’s one question that’s going to define the fate of the next several months of human existence (or lack thereof), it’s the one of when our government/corporate overlords are going to decide it’s finally time to crack open the protective shells of our various self- and state-imposed quarantines so that they can feast on the sweet, sweet economy meat hidden within. Nowhere is that query more pertinent than in the movie theater industry, an entire billions-dollar business built around people sitting in dark rooms in close contact with each other, stuffing popcorn in their mouths, breathing each other’s lung-recycled gasses, and just generally enjoying the close proximity of a whole bunch of other people’s viral loads.
So alluring is that image that the Cinemark theater chain has expressed its tentative plans to re-open for business in almost exactly two-and-a-half months. This is per Slashfilm, reporting on a conference call held this week by Cinemark CFO and COO Sean Gamble, who stated that the chain is aiming at July 1 as a tentative date to re-open doors for at least some of its theaters. As with theaters in China—which programmed beloved feel-good movies like the Harry Potter films in order to lure viewers back into their waiting, tomb-like arms—Cinemark will reportedly begin showing “library product” on those dates in some states, operating on a region-by-region basis to determine which facilities will open when. All of those early releases will build up to the tentative release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet on July 17, a movie that has the double theatrical draw of being the latest, very mysterious project from a critically and commercially beloved director, and also, y’know, existing.
Whether this plan is actually safe is, of course, just one of the delightful uncertainties that have cropped up like a lethal and unwelcome fungus in the COVID-19 era. Projections of when the U.S. can start relaxing its social distancing measures without causing a resurgence in infections have been all over the place, with the only real comfort being the near-certain knowledge that whatever date Donald Trump ends up proposing for a start-up will almost certainly be dangerously and disastrously wrong. Theaters are going to be both an excellent bellwether for how much faith the American public has in the crisis being past, as well as—more grimly—an easy locale to track to see if it actually is. Anyway: We’ll know more about all of this in the future, presumably, because that’s how time worked, back when time was still a thing that meaningfully existed.