Breakingviews – Corona Capital: SpongeBob, Cirque du Soleil – Reuters

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HONG KONG/LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Corona Capital is a daily column updated throughout the day by Breakingviews columnists around the world with short, sharp pandemic-related insights.

The SpongeBob SquarePants balloon makes its way down 6th Ave during the 91st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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– Movie releases

– Cirque du Soleil

SLOW CLAP. AMC Entertainment is barreling ahead with plans to open its movie theaters in the United States on July 15. Weirdly, boss Adam Aron was nonchalant about customers wearing face coverings until an intense backlash prompted him to reverse course. Guests are now required to don masks nationwide. Yet it may not matter, because cinemas’ glory days are almost certainly past.

Just look at the new releases. True, Walt Disney and Warner Bros are releasing two tent-pole films, “Mulan” and “Tenet,” through cinemas. But others aren’t. ViacomCBS said on Monday that “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” will be distributed in early 2021 on demand and then exclusively through its streaming service CBS All Access. A combination of changing habits and media groups with new digital platforms to promote may play a bigger factor in AMC’s plans than whether or not the guy in the next seat wears a mask. (By Jennifer Saba)

STRINGS ATTACHED. Bankrupt acrobatics troupe Cirque du Soleil may be getting a lifeline from the Quebec government. The Canadian province, where the high-flying act is based, is prepared to lend $200 million to get Cirque back in motion, Bloomberg reports. But Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon, who spent part of his career before politics as an investment banker and finance chief at National Bank of Canada, is making potential recipients work for the money.

It will only be available after Cirque backflips out of bankruptcy. Fitzgibbon has so far only offered the cash to Cirque’s current shareholders – TPG, Fosun International and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec – so they’d need to secure control from creditors, some of whom already made an offer for Cirque. And to avoid what he calle