AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas Cutting Seating Space 50%

In an attempt to adhere to “social distancing” as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group said they would restrict theater seating by 50% in the United States to minimize physical contact between moviegoers.

AMC operates 1,000 theatres and 11,000 screens worldwide. Regal Cinemas operates 7,350 screens domestically.

Both chains through April 30 will cut seating — likely putting a drag on fiscal earnings. Calling it “uncharted” times in the country, AMC CEO Adam Aron said the new policy is in concert with public guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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“We are complying with all directives from federal, state and local health and government authorities, and with our unilateral move to reduce capacity and increase social distancing we are going beyond what governments are requiring of us,” Aron said in a statement.

“The health and safety of our customers and staff is very important to us. We are continuing to follow and monitor official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health organizations,” Regal said in a statement.

Aron said AMC remains committed to offering a clean, healthy, entertaining environment for patrons.

“The health and safety of our guests and theatre teams are of the utmost importance to AMC,” he said. “Therefore, AMC is proactively taking action to cut in half the number of tickets that we will make available at all our U.S. theatres. With this action, we are facilitating the ‘social distance’ between guests who still want to see movies on a big screen.”

Regardless, Wall Street is hammering exhibitor stocks with AMC Theatres’ share price down less than $3 compared to $17 a share earlier this year.

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