Largest US movie theater chain won’t reopen even if states say

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Although states are slowly starting to allow cinemas to resume operating against recommendations from public health experts, AMC Theaters, the largest movie theater chain in the United States, will not reopen until at least this summer.

“As we plan to reopen, the health and safety of our customers and associates is our top priority,” the company said in a statement on Friday. “To be able to open, we also need a line of sight in a regular schedule of new theatrical blockbusters that really get people going back to their favorite movie theaters. “

The first major releases currently on the calendar are “Tenet” by Christopher Nolan, scheduled for July 17, and the Disney live remake of “Mulan”, now scheduled for July 24 after being moved from its initial opening in March. .

AMC said it hopes to allow moviegoers to return “in the coming weeks from these new blockbusters” and that it is looking for ways to do so “in a safe and welcoming environment”, as the COVID-19 crisis suggests improbable public events and gatherings in the foreseeable future.

Photo by Jim Davis / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

An empty parking lot at an AMC location in Methuen, Massachusetts, March 29.

Hollywood studios and distributors have postponed almost all of the films scheduled for release in the spring and early summer. Many have also chosen to make certain new versions available via video on demand or streaming, completely bypassing cinemas.

The lack of film offerings – in addition to the countless health risks – has made it all the more baffling that some state governors decided this week to allow movie theaters to reopen.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) sparked much criticism this week when he announced that businesses such as gyms, hair salons and bowling alleys could reopen Friday, followed by movie theaters and restaurants on Monday . Oklahoma authorizes movie theaters to reopen on May 1. Tennessee plans to allow “the vast majority” of businesses to reopen on May 1 as well, provided they follow specific instructions from state officials.

On Wednesday, the industry group representing theater owners said it was unlikely that most theaters would reopen even if they were allowed to.

“Many theaters will not be able to open in a workable manner,” said the National Association of Theater Owners in a statement, acknowledging that although Kemp and a handful of other heads of state and city are allowing theaters to reopen. ” , the film industry is also national. “

AMC, along with Regal and Cinemark, the other two major American theater chains, have all been closed since March and have since put most of their employees on leave.

Although the big theater chains remain closed, smaller independent theaters could theoretically reopen in states like Georgia. But they will have to weigh the operating costs and the health risks that reopening would pose to employees and customers.

Several Atlanta theater owners on Thursday told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that they do not plan to reopen anytime soon, “it doesn’t seem like the socially responsible thing to do right now,” and the calling it a “stupid idea”.

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