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Movie theater operators hope ‘Tom and Jerry’ gives the industry a much needed boost

(The Cinemark theater at Jordan Landing. Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – Movie theater operators across Utah have very high hopes for the film “Tom and Jerry,” coming out Friday.  They hope it will bring families out and give the industry a much-needed boost. 

Movie theaters have been open for months, and they’ve shown films like “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “The Little Things.”  However, those movies are far from “family-friendly.”  That’s why movie chains like Cinemark are so optimistic about “Tom and Jerry.”

“It’s a really good opportunity to bring back that really fun family activity,” says Cinemark Spokesperson Caitlin Piper.

(A poster for “Tom and Jerry” placed prominently next to the ticket booth at the Cinemark at Jordan Landing. Credit: Paul Nelson)

Over the course of 2020, Cinemark has made major changes to its theaters to ensure they can follow COVID-19 safety recommendations.  Piper says they’ve updated their ticket selling software to automatically put a buffer zone between parties.  They also let people rent out the theater for their own private groups.  Piper says theaters across the country are trying to make due, even though not a lot of people are coming out, and the studios aren’t giving them much to work with.

Piper says, “Studios have held off on their big releases until the virus is more contained.  So, that’s a great thing about Tom and Jerry coming out.  We’re thrilled to have that new, exciting content.”

Investor records from Cinemark show just how difficult 2020 has been for the industry.  By the third quarter of 2019, Cinemark sold 216 million tickets, bringing in over $2.4 billion in revenue.  By the same time in 2020, only 48 million people visited their theaters and revenue dropped to only $588 million.

Officials from Cinemark aren’t at liberty to discuss ticket pre-sales for “Tom and Jerry,” however, other theater operators say family movies don’t usually drive a lot of pre-sales.

Jeff Whipple with Megaplex Theaters says, “Most families, traditionally, will tend to do a ‘game-day decision’ on whether to go out and about, depending on how the stars align with their kids.”

However, Whipple says family movies tend to perform very well in this state.

“We’re thrilled to have something like Tom and Jerry, especially for our market.  We think it’s going to perform really well, here,” he says.

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