In a twist of fate not even Professor Xavier could have predicted with his mighty mutant brain, it appears that The New Mutants will be the first major Hollywood release to open widely in theaters since multiplexes around the United States shut down in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. After multiple delays and the acquisition of its studio (Fox) by another (Disney), the film is finally opening on August 28 — at least in states where movie theaters are legally allowed to operate.

Other states, including New York, continue to bar theaters from reopening; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently said they were among the businesses that are “less essential and pose a high risk” of contributing to the spread of Covid-19. Despite those risks, The New Mutants director Josh Boone says he thinks “people should be going to the movies.” He recently told Heroic Hollywood:

 ...if [people] can go to a house party with 700 people without masks on, they can put on a mask and go to a movie and maybe get their rocks off in a more productive way. But I think it brings people together, even if they’re socially distanced. And I think that as long as they’re following the rules they’re supposed to be following, it’s safer than an airplane or a restaurant.

Boone gave a similar comment to The Playlist, noting the irony of having made a movie about kids quarantined in a hospital and adding “ I think it’s good for people to go back to the movies. I do think movies are an essential service. Socially distanced with masks and done properly is certainly better than a party with 400 people without masks, or a restaurant or a plane or whatever.”

I’m not sure what evidence Boone has seen that theaters are “safer than an airplane or a restaurant,” particularly since just about every major theater chain’s coronavirus safety protocols allow for customers to remove their masks to eat and drink — the same sorts of activities that might get you into virus-related trouble at an indoor restaurant.

While many fans expected Disney to cancel The New Mutants’ theatrical release entirely and put the movie on Disney+ or Hulu, Boone said that was never in the plans. The New Mutants was designed to be seen on big screens, like IMAX screens,” he explained.

While I do want to see The New Mutants on a big screen, I’m not so sure it’s worth risking my health. To the best of my knowledge, there are no known virus cases directly connected to an American movie theater. But I do know that one public health expert recently said “there is no scenario in which going to a movie theater is a good idea,” short of renting out an entire auditorium for a private screening. Maybe that’s the best way to go.

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