March 17, 2020
Just hours after mandating all screens admit no more than 50 patrons per showing, AMC Theatres, the nation’s No. 1 movie theater chain, has pulled the plug on its venues in accordance with precautions being taken by businesses to stop the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
“All AMC theatres are temporarily closed in accordance with local and federal guidelines. They will re-open when those guidelines allow,” the nation’s largest exhibitor said on its website late Monday (March 16) night.
The move followed similar action taken by rival Regal Cinemas, which with 542 movie theaters and more than 7,000 screens is the country’s No. 2 chain of movie theaters.
AMC as of September 2019 has 1,000 theaters and 11,000 screens in 15 countries across the globe, according to its website.
Five other movie theater chains also went dark Monday, according to the Hollywood Reporter: Landmark, Harkins Theaters, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Showcase Cinemas and Bow Tie Cinemas.
As a public venue, movie theaters, similar to ball parks, arenas, amusement parks and concert pavilions, have become off limits as local, state and the federal government seek to halt the spread of the virus — especially among the elederly and people with weakened immune systems.
All sporting events with large spectator attendance have been canceled or postponed, including the NCAA, high school and professional leagues.
With concern about the virus spread national and international frontpage news, movie theaters have already taken a major fiscal hit. Last weekend’s domestic box office was the lowest in more than 20 years.
While expressing disappointment on the new CDC guidelines mandating Americans should not gather in groups larger than 10 people, AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron said the health and well being of moviegoers and employees takes precedence.
“We will continue to monitor this situation very closely and look forward to the day we can again delight moviegoers nationwide by reopening AMC movie theaters in accordance with guidance from the CDC and local health authorities,” Aron said in a statement.