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Las Vegas movie theater reopenings dealt another blow

At this rate, if we ever want to set foot in a movie theater again, Americans may have to head overseas.

Assuming there’s a country left that would let us through immigration.

Warner Bros. took “Tenet,” its twice-delayed Christopher Nolan thriller, off its release schedule Monday. Originally planned for a July 17 opening, it had most recently been scheduled to arrive Aug. 12. The move was made amid uncertainty over when U.S. movie theaters could reopen, especially in New York and Los Angeles, the latter of which is seeing an unprecedented surge in new COVID-19 cases.

“We are not treating ‘Tenet’ like a traditional global day-and-date release,” Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich said in a statement, “and our upcoming marketing and distribution plans will reflect that.”

As the first major movie to be released since March 13, the film would have marked a tentative return to moviegoing, and theater chains had been basing their reopening plans around it. What’s playing out now is essentially a high-stakes chicken-and-egg scenario: Studios don’t want to release pricey new movies until theaters can reopen, but theaters can’t sustain a reopening effort without new blockbusters.

Emmerich said a new “Tenet” release date will be shared “imminently,” but there’s already speculation within Hollywood that the movie will open in countries that have done a better job containing the COVID-19 outbreak long before it will hit American theaters. Cinemas throughout Europe have begun reopening, and China, the world’s largest market outside the U.S., started that process Monday.

Last week, Doug Creutz, an analyst with the financial service firm Cowen Inc., predicted American cinemas could remain shuttered for another year because of social distancing.

“We now expect domestic theaters to be largely closed until mid-2021,” he wrote, “in part because we don’t think studios will be interested in releasing their largest movies into a capacity-constrained footprint.”

After a few delays, Cinemark, which operates locally under the Century brand, had announced its theaters at The Orleans, Santa Fe Station, South Point and Suncoast would reopen July 24, with Sam’s Town and Henderson’s Cinedome coming along later. None of those theaters currently has an opening date.

AMC, the largest theater chain in America that operates the cinemas at Town Square and Rainbow Promenade, hasn’t publicly updated its plans. Its website still says “select theaters” will reopen July 30.

Regal, the valley’s largest theater chain, still lists a July 31 date when reopenings will begin. Locally, the company operates the theaters at Aliante, Boulder Station, Colonnade, Downtown Summerlin, Fiesta Henderson, Green Valley Ranch Resort, Palace Station, Red Rock Resort, Sunset Station, Texas Station and Village Square.

With the delay of “Tenet,” Disney’s live-action remake of “Mulan” is once again the first major movie on the release schedule, with an Aug. 21 date. It had been moving in tandem, though, with “Tenet” and likely will be delayed again.

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