LOS ANGELES – Will moviegoers remain at home this weekend, fixated on terrorism news coverage, or return to theaters seeking escape from news of the attacks on the United States?
That was the question in Hollywood on Friday as movie theaters across the nation opened for regular weekend business.
Meanwhile, television's Emmy Awards ceremony was rescheduled for Oct. 7, and productions resumed on Broadway stages.
September typically is a slow month for new movies, and only two films were opening in wide release this weekend — the Little League drama Hardball and the psychological thriller The Glass House.
"People may not feel it's the time for entertainment and diversion and fun," said Adam Farasati, a box office analyst with Reel Source Inc., "but with so many things being canceled — like the NFL and major-league baseball — there won't be anything else to do except see movies this weekend."
Most theater chains reopened Wednesday after closing their doors Tuesday following the attacks that collapsed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon. But movie audiences were sparse as people remained transfixed by the news coverage. After four days with round-the-clock coverage, though, the broadcast networks planned to resume entertainment programming on Saturday.
"Reopening was more or less a show of solidarity with the rest of the country, showing that it is still business as usual in the United States and that we haven't been stopped by this," said Brian Callaghan, spokesman for General Cinema Theatres, which runs 700 screens across the country.
"If someone does choose to go to the movies, we're going to be there for them," he added. "I wouldn't be surprised this weekend if there were a lot of crowded restaurants, shopping malls or movie theaters because people said, 'Let's get a breather and start to move on."'
Another part of moving on was Friday's announcement by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences that the Emmys will take place next month at the Shrine Auditorium. CBS will broadcast the event, originally scheduled for Sunday night.
Organizers said they "will present a program that is different in tone and approach and that is respectful and that expresses the solidarity between the television community and the American people in dealing with this tragedy."
"Traditionally, the Emmys are a tribute to the television industry, however, on this night, the industry will also join together with the nation to reaffirm the spirit of the American people," the academy and CBS said in a joint statement.
In New York, the curtains rose again Thursday on Broadway shows after two nights of dark, empty theaters.
"We have an expression in the theater," said Rocco Landesman, one of the producers of The Producers. "The show must go on."
And it did, to cheers and applause from an audience that yelled and clapped even before Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick came on stage.
Landesman spoke at the start of the sold-out performance of Broadway's biggest hit, which, he said, was dedicated to "our fellow New Yorkers who died in the senseless tragedy in the World Trade Center."
"The show you are going to see is a comedy, and I couldn't be happier that it is a comedy," he said. "I think laughter is a great bonder of people. I don't think anything could be better in terms of making a statement about what is going on than to attend an event where we can all be together and laugh together."
Before the shows began, Broadway theaters dimmed their lights, and a quiet fell over arriving theatergoers, even the estimated 150 people waiting in the ticket-cancellation line at The Producers. The hush was sudden and eerie, broken only by the chimes of theater bells urging latecomers to take their seats.
At the end of the show, after a standing ovation, the cast and crew on stage led the audience in singing "God Bless America."