When Pfizer Inc. unveiled its successful coronavirus trials on Monday, the ripples spread across the country and lifted spirits from Wall Street to Hollywood.
Theater owners as well as Hollywood studios finally may have a target as their light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. The vaccine may be as much as 90% effective and could help put the country back on its feet by March or April.
“Pfizer said it is a game changer in terms of public health issues. And I think the vaccine is a game changer in terms of the movie industry,” IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond told The Hollywood Reporter.
On Monday, AMC Theatres’ stock rose 51.4%; Cinemark stock climbed 45.17%; with IMAX up 18.61%. The share prices were still only a fraction of what they were pre-pandemic.
AMC, which was down 66% from February levels as of Friday’s close, was trading at midday on Tuesday at $3.40 a share. That’s a far cry from its Feb. 21 price of $7.46.
The National Association of Theatre Owners asked Congress on Monday for millions in relief funds, stating that 96% of theaters have seen 2020 losses of 70% or more.
While nearly 50% of U.S. theaters are open, the restrictions in place call for only 25 to 50% capacity. And the major studios, having delayed their major fall and winter releases, are not delivering the usual big-ticket features.
With a vaccine and an anticipated dramatic reduction in new cases, Hollywood is hoping audiences will jump at the chance to come back to theaters. Studios need the revenue to keep their big projects on track.
“No one had a time frame before. The announcement puts bookends on in,” Gelfond said.