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The National Association Of Theatre Owners (NATO) has attempted to rebut speculation over collapsed theatrical windows in the wake of theatre closures and the coronavirus pandemic and argued full releases are essential to the industry, adding: ”People will return to movie theatres because that is who people are.”

The lobby group was responding to Monday’s announcement by NBCUniversal that Universal will make its current releases and the imminent Trolls World Tour available on demand at the same time as their scheduled global theatrical releases.

In a statement issued on Tuesday (17), NATO said, “Although there has been speculation in the media that the temporary closure of theatres will lead to accelerated or exclusive releases of theatrical titles to home streaming, such speculation ignores the underlying financial logic of studio investment in theatrical titles,” the NATO statement read.

“To avoid catastrophic losses to the studios, these titles must have the fullest possible theatrical release around the world. While one or two releases may forgo theatrical release, it is our understanding from discussions with distributors that the vast majority of deferred releases will be rescheduled for theatrical release as life returns to normal.

“When those titles are rescheduled, they will make for an even fuller slate of offerings than normal as they are slotted into an already robust release schedule later in the year.”

The statement went on to say that theatre-going would resume once theatres reopened, and remained an affordable entertainment option that catered to peoples’ nature.

“No one can precisely predict when public life will return to normal, but it will return,” the statement read. “The social nature of human beings – the thing that exposes us to contagion, and that makes it so difficult to change behavior in response to pandemic threats – is also the thing that gives us confidence in the future. People will return to movie theatres because that is who people are.

“When they return they will rediscover a cutting edge, immersive entertainment experience that they have been forcefully reminded they cannot replicate at home. In the uncertain, difficult economy ahead, movie theaters will fill the role they always have in boom times and in recessions – the most popular, affordable entertainment available outside the home.

“While movie theatres will suffer some financial harm in the near term, and many of their 150,000 employees will face personal hardship, when this crisis passes and people return to their hard-wired social nature, movie theatres will be there for them as they have always been, with a full slate of movies far into the future.”