Over the weekend, numerous independent theaters and cinemas in some of the more coronavirus-infected areas shut their doors for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic. But AMC Theatres, which is the largest North American theater chain and has over 11,000 screens is, once again, strengthening regulations in its locations to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
According to THR, AMC is no longer just going to cap occupancy at its theaters to 50%. Instead, there’s a new “50-50” policy that says each screening with either be 50% occupied max or 50 total people, whichever is lower. That means for those massive screens with hundreds of seats, there will be a maximum of 50 people in attendance. And for those screens with less than a hundred, there’s going to be even fewer paying customers. This new rule is going to take effect immediately and run until April 30, at least.
“The health of our guests and employee teams comes first for AMC,” said CEO Adam Aron. “Therefore, effective immediately, at all our U.S. theaters that are open, we will limit ticket sales per showtime in each of our theatre auditoriums to a maximum of 50 percent of normal seating capacity and a maximum of 50 people, whichever is less.”
Obviously, AMC is doing its best to keep its doors open during this time when so many businesses are closing temporarily. Bars, restaurants, and other service-based businesses are being hit incredibly hard by the spread of coronavirus, leaving many to wonder when they’ll reopen. As far as theaters go, we saw this past weekend that attendance has already sharply declined and that was before many of these regulations.
It’ll be interesting to see how the 50-person max rule affects the release schedule of the wide releases in April. Despite most films clearing out of the month, April is still scheduled to feature films such as “Saint Maud,” “Trolls World Tour,” and “My Spy.” However, if 11,000 screens are going to be extremely limited (if not completely closed by the time the films are released), then why would any studio release a film during the next month or so? Basically, expect even more delays to be announced.
And as we’ve been saying, keep in mind that the workers at these AMC’s (and other theaters) are going to be struggling to make money during this time. So, it’s important to pressure these companies into doing the right thing for the employees that could lose healthcare and paychecks because of the lack of hours.