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How Nevada’s increased gathering limits could boost moviegoing

Nevada’s movie theaters haven’t exactly been turning away crowds since reopening in August, so the state’s increase in gathering limits from 50 to 250 people won’t have a direct impact on their bottom lines.

That doesn’t mean they won’t help the moviegoing business.

“The increase to 250 people is more of a psychological boost, that hopefully the worst of this is behind us,” says Rafe Cohen, president of Galaxy Theatres.

The exhibition industry has been hit hard in 2020, first by the shutdowns, then by a lack of high-profile new movies once they reopened.

Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” was supposed to be the film that reignited moviegoing upon its release Sept. 3, but the would-be blockbuster has underperformed in the U.S. While some of that can be attributed to the three largest moviegoing markets — New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco — remaining closed for business, studios reacted by pushing major releases to later in 2020 or summer 2021. “Wonder Woman 1984,” for example, was supposed to open Friday. It’s now scheduled to be released Christmas Day.

Instead, most of the movies to follow in “Tenet’s” wake have been smaller, independent fare.

“There’s some good movies,” Cohen says, “but they don’t have the promotion and advertising budgets.”

With so many people unaccustomed to going to movie theaters, it will take a major release — the kind with plenty of commercials and product tie-ins — to get their attention and, possibly, bring them back to the multiplex. As of now, that movie looks to be “No Time to Die.” The James Bond thriller, the next high-profile film waiting in the wings, isn’t scheduled to hit theaters until Nov. 20.

Until then, Galaxy is doing what it can. With three locations — at Boulevard Mall, the Cannery and Green Valley — the chain is the third largest exhibitor in the valley, behind national powerhouses Regal and Cinemark. Galaxy is offering $1 admission to older movies, while cutting its operating hours to save on expenses. On weekdays, Cohen says, that may mean opening at 2 or 3 p.m. rather than 11 a.m.

He’s hopeful “No Time to Die” stays on its November date and there are no more defections. Having Daniel Craig in his last Bond film kick off the holiday movie season, with high-profile fare — including “Dune” and “Coming 2 America,” both on Dec. 18 — backing it up, could lead to a sustained recovery at the movies.

“People definitely want to come back to the theaters. I think they’re just looking for product,” Cohen says. “I’m not going to tell you that, you know, if there’s product we’re going to be at 100 percent of where we were last year. But 75 percent is a lot better than 25 or 30 percent.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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