Moviegoers will have to wait a little bit longer to return to AMC Theatres. The largest movie theater chain in the U.S. has pushed back its reopening date by two weeks. The company had previously announced plans to resume operations on July 15. That has now been delayed to July 30. The move comes as a couple of key factors have converged.
First off, public health concerns have taken center stage as states have reopened. The situation has once again escalated, which has complicated matters for businesses that require gathering large groups of people together. Secondly, both Mulan and Tenet have been pushed back by two weeks. With those blockbusters not hitting theaters, it will likely be difficult to drum up enough business. Adam Aron, CEO & President of AMC Theatres, had this to say in a statement.
"We continue to devote extraordinary resources into our plan to operate our theatres with a hyper commitment to the safety and health of our guests and associates, notably in the United States through our new AMC Safe & Clean initiative. Our theatre general managers across the U.S. started working full time again today and are back in their theatres gearing up to get their buildings fully ready just a few weeks from now for moviegoers. That happy day, when we can welcome guests back into most of our U.S. theatres, will be Thursday, July 30."
AMC and other theater chains such as Regal and Cinemark are taking extra precautions when they do reopen. This includes sanitizing auditoriums after showings, reducing theater capacity and shifting ticket and concession orders online. AMC and Regal are also making masks a requirement for both employees and customers. Initially, the chains said they would encourage masks, but not require them, which resulted in a great deal of backlash. Cinemark has yet to reverse course on the matter.
Movie theaters in the U.S., and throughout much of the world, have been closed down since mid-March. This has had dire consequences on the entertainment industry, as the box office is expected to lose billions in 2020. Meanwhile, most major releases have been delayed to much later in the year, with quite a few being pushed to 2021. The release calendar has been constantly shifting as the situation has evolved.
For AMC, reopening as soon as possible is crucial. The company has more than $5 billion in debt. Recently, they cast doubt on their ability to stay viable, with bankruptcy rumors swirling about. For studios, having an operational exhibition business infrastructure in place to showcase movies is of the utmost importance. While premium VOD offerings have had some success during the shutdown, big budget tentpoles such as Mulan and Tenet still require big hauls at the box office to make their money back. We'll be sure to keep you posted as the situation develops. This news was previously reported by Variety.