Some states are giving movie theaters the go-ahead to reopen, but that doesn't mean theaters will be filled with eager moviegoers.
A Newsy-Ipsos poll found that just 30% of Americans surveyed are comfortable going back to movie theaters soon after they open.
Steinberg: "In terms of bottom line, this is a total devastating impact."
In the last several years, movie theaters have weathered corporate acquisitions, the rise of streaming and now COVID-19. But even amid the economic uncertainties of the pandemic, experts are still optimistic that cinemas will be around in some form.
Professor David Craig: "The movie industry as we once knew it in the 20th century hasn't been around for a while now. It's certainly not going to bear any resemblance to what it will look like after this pandemic, when and if this pandemic ends."
Earlier in May, Amazon was rumored to be in talks to acquire AMC Entertainment. Shares for the movie theater company skyrocketed, but the rumors were quickly dismissed. Despite the uncertainty, communications professor David Craig of the University of Southern California notes it's very likely that cinema companies are looking for potential buyers.
Craig: "It's just a mistake to think that people are only going to movies to watch content. And now that they can watch content on here, it doesn't take away from the fact that people still want to be social."
Studios are betting on that optimism even as shelter-in-place orders continue in many states. While some distributors have released films direct to streaming, some titles, like Disney's "Mulan" and "The New Mutants," are still scheduled to debut in theaters this summer.
To comply with social-distancing guidelines, theaters that reopen will stay at half-capacity and likely mandate face masks. For some theatergoers in cities like Milwaukee, those restrictions won't stop them from coming back.
Craig: "Fundamentally, people still see entertainment as critical, and social entertainment is even more critical than ever before."