AMC Theaters, the largest theater chain in the United States, will shut its doors nationwide for between six to 12 weeks. Any members of the company’s A-List theater subscription have also had their memberships paused while the closures are in effect, the company announced.
The move complies with local, state, and federal directives to help fight the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Over the last few days, multiple states and cities have declared that venues like movie theaters, bars, and restaurants must close. The federal government also recommended that public gatherings shouldn’t exceed 10 people, making it impossible for movie theaters to operate.
“We are ever so disappointed for our moviegoing guests and for our employee teams that the new CDC guidelines that Americans should not gather in groups larger than 10 people make it impossible to open our theaters,” CEO Adam Aron said in a press release. “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.”
“Impossible to open our theaters”
AMC isn’t the only chain shutting down its operations for several weeks as the company grapples with the pandemic. Regal, another popular theater chain in the US, is also closing its doors. Independent theaters like Alamo Drafthouse and Nitehawk Cinemas in New York City have also decided to close. Prior to the closures, the box office saw its worst weekend in the last 20 years, hitting an unprecedented low, seeing a total of $55.3 million between March 13th and March 15th.
Even before AMC and Regal made the choice for audiences, people weren’t going to theaters. Movies like Onward, Disney Pixar’s newest joint, would usually gross more than $100 million domestically over a few weeks. The movie has only grossed $60 million domestically and an additional $40 million internationally.
It’s a scary time for the entertainment industry, one that has led to several movies being delayed, including Mulan, New Mutants, F9, No Time to Die, and Peter Rabbit 2. Unprecedented moves, like Universal and Warner Bros. breaking the theatrical window to offer films like Birds of Prey, The Hunt, and Emma to people at home via VOD rental options on iTunes and Amazon, have also occurred.
Update March 17th, 5:50PM ET: Added that AMC Theaters is also automatically pausing A-List memberships while its theaters are closed. The headline has been updated to reflect this fact.