AMC Theatres — the world's largest movie theater owner — announced Thursday that it is set to reopen its more than 600 US theaters next month with new safety and health measures to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
The company said it will begin a multi-phase reopening on July 15, adding that it expects to be nearly fully operational by the July 24 premiere of Disney's "Mulan."
The chain, which closed its locations earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, said it will be implementing a health and sanitation program it calls "AMC Safe & Clean."
"From the moment we made the decision back in March to temporarily shutter our theatres, we immediately began to formulate a comprehensive, effective and responsible health and sanitation plan which would allow us to move forward," Adam Aron, AMC's CEO, said in a statement on Thursday. "This has been the core element to all of our discussions about again opening our doors to moviegoers."
Aron added that AMC was advised by the Clorox company and current and former faculty of Harvard University's School of Public Health while developing the measures.
The program will have multiple safety and health measures, including:
- Initially capping movie showtimes at 30% seating capacity
- Cleaning every theater between each showtime
- Disinfecting seating areas nightly using electrostatic sprayers
- Temporarily reducing menu selections at its concession stands
- Upgrading its ventilation systems in its theaters
- Requiring every AMC employee to wear masks while in the theater
The company said that in any area of the country where masks are mandatory AMC will "abide by that ordinance and guests will be required to wear masks."
And in areas of the country where masks are not compulsory, AMC says it will "strongly" encourage guests to wear them.
The movie theater industry has been ravaged by coronavirus.
Earlier this month, AMC reported a net loss of $2.17 billion in its first quarter, and said revenue fell about 22% to $941.5 million, compared to $1.2 billion in the same quarter last year.
"After a painful almost four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus, we are delighted to announce that movies are coming back to the big screen at AMC," Aron said in a statement on Thursday.
AMC plans to show older films until new ones are released. Disney's "Mulan" is scheduled to be followed by Warner Bros.' "Tenet," a twisty thriller from director Christopher Nolan, on July 31.
The company also said that phase two of its reopening — which will begin when "AMC deems it to be acceptable given local and regional health conditions" — will hit a capacity of 40%. By Labor Day it expects that to be at 50% and full capacity by Thanksgiving.
AMC also announced that it would implement “seat blocking” in its theaters, by blocking out seating next to, in front of or behind moviegoers depending on what type of theater they are in.