Robert Pattinson and John David Washington in ‘Tenet’ (Photo credit: Warner Bros).
Christopher Nolan’s time-travel thriller Tenet and Niki Caro’s live-action adventure-drama Mulan will be the first two major Hollywood releases in July, if Australian cinemas are allowed to open that month – along with cinemas in most other territories.
Warner Bros. has dated Tenet for July 17 in the US, so it would open here on July 16. Disney has scheduled Mulan, the tale of a young Chinese maiden who disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father, for the following week.
WB has booked Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984 a month later while the first Paramount Pictures release will be John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II day-and-date with the US on September 3, postponed from late March.
The National Association of Cinema Operators, which represents more than 2,000 screens at nearly 500 locations with 12,000 employees, said it is enthusiastic about the prospect of re-opening in July, once the Federal Government determines it is safe for cinemas to do so.
The NACO board recognises social distancing restrictions will be required, meaning there will be reduced capacities.
The board acknowledged cinemas can’t resume until the major Hollywood studios decide to release films in the majority of cinemas around the world.
‘Mulan’ (Photo credit: Walt Disney Co.)
The signs are the studios are keen to get back to business. NACO executive director Michael Hawkins tells IF: “I believe WB and Chris Nolan have locked in their date of July 16 for Tenet and Disney is firm on Mulan the following week.”
Universal Pictures MD Mike Baard says: “We’re encouraged by the news from NACO that their members are hoping to open in July should conditions allow. Our Universal distribution team are working to prepare for that opportunity.
“Now that a target date has been set we can commence planning and will be in a position to date films once we have spoken with our exhibition partners about the details related to their re-opening plans.”
By the time Mulan hits theatres, Disney CEO Bob Chapek told Deadline: “We’re hoping that there’s some return to some semblance of normal in terms of the number of screens that are opening and the number of showtimes.” He added he believes there will be an “incredible pent-up demand” for moviegoing.
Hawkins expects cinemas will observe the 4 square metre distancing rule, which means capacities may be less than 50 per cent.
The Association has developed an Australian industry standard for sanitisation, which includes staggered session times and spaced seating, contact-less and cash-less transactions wherever possible, sanitisation stations where appropriate and increased frequency of cleaning.
The protocol also includes staff ‘wellness’ policies to ensure the wellbeing of staff and the promotion of the COVIDSafe app download among staff and customers.