A medical worker wearing a mask walks near the AMC Cinema in Times Square amid the coronavirus pandemic in New York City on May 7, 2020.
Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Images
On Friday, AMC, Regal, Cinemark and Marcus Corp, as well as other major theater chains, reopened their doors to the public after having closed for five long months due to the coronavirus.
But even with strict security protocols and new movie releases, moviegoers may be reluctant to return to theaters.
"The cinemas reopening this weekend is definitely a bittersweet moment for the film industry," said Jeff Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitor Relations. "On the one hand, it's a relief to see cinemas reopen their doors, but at the same time, a lot of these theaters are opening up in states and cities that still haven't gotten a grip on the spread of this virus. So, so nice as it comes to new content Seeing in theaters just a lot of people just don't take any risks, and those who do could easily be exposed to the virus. "
Epidemiologists and health experts fear that air conditioners, like in movie theaters, can move infected droplets around indoors, warned that some consumers might remove their masks once the house lights go out.
While AMC CEO Adam Aron has installed new air filtration systems to help slow the spread of the disease, it is unclear whether other theaters have the new technology.
According to a survey conducted in mid-August by Morning Consult, a global data intelligence company, only around 17% of consumers currently feel comfortable when they go to the cinema. That is a decrease of around 20% in mid-July.
"Personally, I know few people in my peer group eager to return to theaters, but there is no way we are around often," Doug Stone, president of Box Office Analyst, told CNBC via email. "There may be more interest in younger groups, but I think those over 40 will be careful."
Of course, the survey results are very different. A poll of 16,000 moviegoers by Atom Tickets, an online movie ticket seller, found that 74% of respondents are willing to return to theaters within a month and 40% would return to theaters immediately.
"I suspect we will see an increase in activity on the opening weekend and, if everything goes without incident, a very slow return to normality. Like months, not weeks," said Bock. "If multiple, traceable outbreaks occur, we will definitely be looking around (Premium Video on Demand) for the foreseeable future until we fight this virus."