People Are Returning To The Movies As Mask Requirements End

When the Coronavirus Pandemic began more than a year ago, Americans quit going to the movies.  Now that theater chains no longer require vaccinated patrons to wear masks, they are returning in droves.

According to Box Office Mojo.com, weekend box office receipts topped $100 million for the first time in more than a year thanks to stronger-than-expected debuts over the Memorial Day Weekend from Paramount’sA Quiet Place Part II and Walt Disney’s Cruella.  

A Quiet Place Part II is a sequel to the 2018 horror film A Quiet Place, a surprise hit for the ViacomCBS-owned Paramount. The film, directed by The Office’s John Krasinski, generated $48.4 million in the three-day window between Friday and Sunday. When Monday ticket sales are included, Box Office Mojo estimates that A Quiet Place Part II’s box office at $58.5 million, the top performer of any film released during the Pandemic. 

“Originally scheduled to hit theaters back on March 20, 2020, A Quiet Place Part II was one of the first major-studio pictures to be postponed due to COVID,” Box Office Mojo says. “And while many studios chose to steer their 2020 films over to various streaming platforms bypassing limited-capacity theaters, Paramount’s gamble to hold the film for a theatrical release until the pandemic began to recede seems to have paid off handsomely. “

Indeed, Box Office Mojo estimates that A Quiet Place II generates on average $12,986 per screen in 3,726 theaters. Critics have also given the film rave reviews. The film earned a 91 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and an A- from CinemaScore.

Cruella, which tells the origins of the 101 Dalmatians villain, stars Emma Stone. The film finished in second place, earning $21.3 million over the first three days of the weekend, Box Office Mojo says. Box Office Mojo expects Cruella’s four-day gross to hit $26.5 million. Cruella earned a 72 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Cinema Scope gave the movie an ‘A’ grade.

“The PG-13-rated film also came out of the gate to solid numbers despite being available on Disney+ for an additional $30 fee,” the website said.

People who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear masks at the top U.S. movie theater chains, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, and Regal Cinemas. 

 AMC, the largest movie theater operator, headed off bankruptcy earlier this year by raising $917 million from investors.  During the company’s recent earnings conference call, Chief Executive Adam Aron told Wall Street analysts that “vaccinations are our way out of this.” The company lost $567 million in the last quarter, or $1.42 per share, an improvement from the $2.2 billion loss a year earlier. Revenue slumped more than 84 percent to $148.3 million. Wall Street analysts had expected a loss of $1.38 per share on revenue of $157.7 million.

Hollywood movie studios started a public relations campaign declaring that “The Big Screen is Back.”  

Getting people back in theaters has taken a heightened sense of urgency as the traditional 90-day window operators have enjoyed has eroded during the pandemic.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal shortened the theatrical release window, allowing films to become available online sooner. AT&T’s WarnerMedia released its 2021 films on HBO Max at the same time as theaters for a year. Walt Disney also is pushing its movies onto its streaming services on the same day it releases them to theaters.

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