One man with more than most riding on a post-pandemic theatre recovery is James Cameron. Having spent over 12 years getting around to a sequel to Avatar, with an end product that no doubt has to be a 3D cinematic experience, his products need an exhibition space.

All four of them. So of course Cameron says he very much hopes movie theaters will still be around to play them.

After reclaiming the all-time box-office crown from Avengers: Endgame thanks to a Chinese re-release (thanks again, China!) Avatar is slowly pushing itself back into the public consciousness again.
Two of the four planned sequels are already shot and currently in post-production, with some initial photography started beyond that. Cameron made a guest appearance from New Zealand, where they are making these movies, on The Tonight Show, and spoke about the theatrical experience the post-pandemic landscape:

“Everybody makes a big deal out of [the box office battle], but the truth is what we really need to focus on is getting back to theaters. Hopefully we can still have movies like that, Endgame and Avatar and the big Marvel movies and all that, movies that are able to make $1 billion or $2 billion.

Let’s pray that movie theaters are still there after this pandemic and after this shift towards streaming, not that I have anything against streaming. There’s great writing and great shows in [streaming], but let’s remember that movie theaters are a sacred experience for all of us. Let’s get back out there when it’s safe to do so.”

It’s hard to tell how much any successes are down to vaccinations vs. seasonality and gaps between waves. As some countries seem to get things back under control, so another wave rises somewhere else. When the movie business is a global, interconnected business with markets spanning the planet it’s hard to see what normal, and stable could look like for theatres and studios.

Recent box-office signs of life have been encouraging, however the sea-anchor of convenience and comfort expectations from home-viewing is going to take a while to drop.

See the rest of his interview here: