Movie theaters face 'beyond bleak' outlook as there might not be any major blockbusters for 2 months

Movie goers leave the AMC Highlands Ranch 24 on August 20, 2020 in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
(Image credit: Tom Cooper/Getty Images)

Moviegoers largely aren't flocking back to reopened theaters in the United States — and for theaters, experts say, the outlook is "beyond bleak."

Tenet recently debuted in those U.S. movie theaters that have reopened as the first major blockbuster to be released since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but its domestic box office numbers have so far been seen as disappointing. After Tenet tested the waters, Warner Bros. recently delayed its upcoming blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 from October to December, and looking ahead, theaters are likely to struggle as CNN notes there's no giant films scheduled to come out earlier than November.

"There's no way around this; the outlook for theaters over the next seven weeks is beyond bleak," Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock told CNN. "...With no major blockbusters until November — although those aren't remotely set in stone — theaters will likely have to make the unfortunate choice of shutting down again or limiting their operating hours."

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Theaters in New York City and Los Angeles remain closed, and MKM Partners' Eric Handler notes to CNBC that until they reopen, "it is going to be challenging to put up big box office numbers."

After Wonder Woman's delay, The New York Times reports that "at least three studios" on Monday convened meetings to discuss "how to proceed" with movies scheduled to be released in theaters, and on Tuesday, Variety reported that Disney will "likely" delay Black Widow, the Marvel blockbuster it previously set for Nov. 6. Additionally, according to that report, Disney is considering releasing Soul, the next Pixar movie, on Disney+. Should Black Widow be delayed, Variety notes, theaters wouldn't have "any major releases" until the James Bond film No Time to Die, which isn't scheduled to come out until Nov. 20.

"The next stretch," Box Office Pro analyst Shawn Robbins told the Times, "is going to be extremely hard."

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