Movie theaters are allowed to open with seating reduced to 25% of capacity, but there's a reason most aren't showing films right now. No blockbuster releases.

None of the cinemas in metro Baton Rouge or Lafayette were back in business last week, while one small independent in New Orleans has reopened with some classics and another hopes to reopen by the end of the month.

Most properties that remain closed said it will be a while before they start letting crowds in to watch a movie, many of them tied to chains waiting for new releases.

The movie industry has been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic. After all, this isn't the time when you want to sit in a dark room, surrounded by strangers. All of the national theater chains have been closed since mid-March and just a handful of drive-in theaters in the country remain open. According to Box Office Mojo, a website that tracks movie grosses, theaters went from bringing in more than $100 million for the weekend of March 6 to just $124,082 for the weekend of May 15.

The Prytania Theatre in New Orleans is open, showing family classics such as "The Wizard of Oz" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Masks are mandatory and seating is 15% of capacity. 

Another New Orleans movie theater, The Broad Theater, is working on reopening and hopes to be back in business by the end of the month. Plans are to tape off or cover seats to enforce social distancing and set up the lobby so customers move in one direction. 

Part of the reason large chains are holding off on reopening is that the major studio releases that fill up most of their screens aren't being released. 

The summer blockbusters that would normally be in theaters right now have had their release dates pushed back several months or into 2021 because of the pandemic. "Black Widow," the latest Marvel movie, was set to open at the beginning of May. It won't be released until Nov. 6. "Fast and the Furious 9" was supposed to come out Memorial Day weekend; it won't hit big screens until April 2, nearly a year later.

Tom Hanks was the first major movie star to reveal he tested positive for COVID-19. Now, the pandemic has altered plans for his upcoming movie release. "Greyhound," a World War II naval drama filmed aboard the USS Kidd Naval Museum in Baton Rouge, will premiere on Apple TV+ rather than in theaters, the entertainment website Deadline reports. Apple has not set a release date; it had been scheduled to hit theaters Father's Day weekend before the coronavirus closed those venues.

The handful of new movies currently playing are small, independent films that are also available on pay-per-view.

Box Office Mojo notes it isn’t until July when any major movies are set to open widely across the U.S. when the Russell Crowe thriller “Unhinged,” filmed in New Orleans, is set to come out July 1. “Tenant,” an action movie directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Robert Pattinson, is set for release July 17. And there's a feeling those movies could be delayed if there are upticks in coronavirus cases. 

Celebrity Theaters said in a statement posted on its Facebook page that it anticipates opening its theaters on George O’Neal Road in Baton Rouge and in Broussard “in the weeks prior to the new blockbuster releases scheduled for early July.”

Cinemark, the parent company of Cinemark Perkins Rowe, said on its website it is working toward reopening its theaters by mid-summer. Officials with Marcus Theaters, the parent company of the local Movie Tavern by Marcus cinemas in Baton Rouge and Denham Springs, also said they don’t plan to open immediately. In a statement, Marcus officials said they are “developing a thoughtful process and providing the appropriate training, so that when the time is right for our reopening we can feel confident that we are creating a safe and comfortable experience for our associates, guests and community.”

AMC, the nation’s largest theater chain, which has the AMC Mall of Louisiana 15, AMC Baton Rouge 16, AMC Hammond Palace 10, AMC Elmwood Palace 20, AMC Westbank Palace 16 and AMC Dine In Clearview Palace 12 doesn’t mention a potential reopening date on its website. Malco, which has a theater in Gonzales, also didn’t mention an opening date on its website.

The Grand Theaters, which has two locations in Lafayette and one in Slidell, said in a Facebook post it was "excited to reopen soon" and it was working on updated training and protocols to make the properties safe. However, no reopening date was given. "This takes some time and our teams are working hard to open our doors in a safe and timely manner," the company said.

Regal, which has theaters in Covington and Kenner, has no reopening information on its website.

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