As theaters slowly reopen, studios turn to classics to fill the screens

Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park arrived in 1993 to an opening-weekend gross of $47 million — massive, for the time. The blockbuster’s theatrical run lasted for over a year and a half, finally wrapping up in October 1994 with a worldwide total of $912 million (or $1.6 billion in 2020 dollars). A 2013 3D re-release added another $118 million to the number. And even today, 27 years later, Spielberg’s creature feature continues to add a few bucks to the milestone figure: Last weekend, Jurassic Park made $517,000 in theaters, becoming the biggest movie in North America yet again.

The circumstances are the fodder of a Michael Crichton novel: After the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and the subsequent lockdown measures designed to prevent further spread of COVID-19, movie theaters became one of hundreds of types of businesses forced to cease operations. The urgent decision has been catastrophic for the industry, with AMC Theatres, the largest chain in the U.S., predicting a net loss of between $2.1 billion and $2.4 billion for the first quarter of 2020.

Despite a rise in cases in several states across the country, “reopening” plans are moving forward in America, allowing theater chains to invite audiences back to the movies, albeit with varying guidelines. Cinemark and Regal are currently encouraging, but not requiring, ticket buyers to wear masks; AMC recently took a hard mask-wearing stance after a wave of backlash.

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