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At the “Big Screen is Back” initiative on Wednesday, Arnold Schwarzenegger and J.J. Abrams joined fellow filmmakers and Hollywood studio executives in an effort to motivate a return to the theater-going lifestyle.
As reported by The Associated Press, the event was socially distanced and held at AMC Century City 15 theater in Los Angeles. Before speaking, Schwarzenegger chanted, “We are back! We are back!” He described the importance of getting movie theaters back into commission and creating the experience of attending a movie in theaters once again.
“Now it’s time to get back to the big screen,” Schwarzenegger told the audience. Other speakers included J.J. Abrams, Maggie Q, Sam Richardson, Janicza Bravo, and David Bruckner.
“If you have the movie and you don’t have the theaters, you don’t have nothing,” Schwarzenegger said. “Yes, we’ve seen over the past year in the pandemic, that people watch movies on their little iPhone and iPad and put on their glasses to see what’s going on there. They are missing special and visual effects and all the great stuff you usually see on the big screen.”
Each speaker reportedly pushed the revival of theaters as the film industry begins to recover from the coronavirus pandemic during which audiences became accustomed to experiencing movies and television shows at home.
The event lasted 3 hours and also included movie clips and trailers from Disney, Sony, and other studios. Extended footage was reportedly displayed from Warner Bros.’ “In the Heights,” Disney’s “Cruella,” Universal’s “F9,” Paramount’s “Snake Eyes” and Aretha Franklin’s biopic “Respect” from MGM Studios/United Artist Releasing.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige spoke in a pre-recorded message before introducing a sizzle reel that showed “Black Widow.”
“We set out to craft an epic cinematic experience that is visually spectacular and totally engrossing with every inch of the frame,” Feige said. “We want you to feel like you’re part of the action. It’s by far the best way to see a Marvel movie and any movie period.”
Abrams gave a speech, as well, saying that his favorite moments happened in places like a movie theater.
“I think we all want to be kids again,” he said. “And the idea of returning to theaters and being in a big dark room with strangers, screaming and laughing, experiencing the power of that is a human natural need.”
Movie theaters are starting to reopen around the country after taking a financial hit during the past year of closures. As Fox Business reported, “Many cinemas are still closed across the country. Landmark Theatres is hoping to open just over 20 theaters out of 50 by the end of the month.”
“There’s a lot of factors going on in the movie business right now that are making it difficult to open all of our theaters, but we do have about 20 markets open right now, and things are starting to ramp up with distributors having product regularly coming out,” said Margot Gerber, VP of marketing and publicity for Landmark Theatres. “As more moviegoers are coming back to theaters, we’ve been opening more theaters.”
Large chain theaters are also seeing the effect. Cinemark‘s circuit is the third-largest in the country and has 325 theaters and 4,436 screens in 42 states. Revenues for the three months ending March 31, 2021, dropped to $114.4 million from $543.6 million the previous year.
“Our expectations are 2021 will be a transitionary year and it will be much more normalized in terms of film content as well as movie-going behavior, our new sense of normalcy in 2022,” said Chanda Brashears, Cinemark’s SVP of investor and public relations. “We were one of the hardest-hit industries without hesitation, but on the bright side Cinemark was one of the best positioned financially leading into the pandemic, and we took swift and immediate action to make sure we secured that financial positioning to endure throughout the pandemic.”