Tag: AMC

Movie Theaters Claim Forced Closure Violates 1st Amendment Rights

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A sharp uptick in coronavirus cases have imperiled the plan to reopen movie theaters around the country later this month. Even in the few areas where the pandemic is not worsening, like the Northeast, movie theaters have been removed from the list of spaces that can begin welcoming back customers. New York City, for example, began Phase Three of its reopening yesterday; indoor movie theaters, like indoor dining, remain on the banned list.

Apparently, three of the biggest theater chains in the country — AMC, Cinemark, and Regal — find this state of affairs unacceptable. The National Association of Theatre Owners of New Jersey have now filed a suit against the state of New Jersey, claiming that keeping them closed while opening others businesses is “a violation of [their] First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.” Or, as The Hollywood Reporter, puts it, “if churches are reopening, so must movie houses.”

More from the Complaint, via THR:

Plaintiffs challenge Defendants’ unconstitutional and unlawful distinctions in allowing certain places of public assembly to reopen, while requiring movie theatres to remain closed … COVID-19 represents a serious public health risk, and Plaintiffs support fair and reasonable actions by the government to address that risk. However, the government-mandated total closure of movie theatres is neither fair nor reasonable, and is instead a violation of Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, Equal Protection of the laws, Due Process under the law, and is a Taking of property without just compensation.

I continue to hope for the absolute best for movie theaters and their employees, who have been hit as hard as anyone by this pandemic. This is truly a terrible time for theaters, and I look forward to the day when it’s safe to return to the movies.

But the key word is safe, and increasing evidence suggests large, indoor gatherings are among the most dangerous places for virus transmission. Freedom of speech is enormously important, but I’m not sure that’s really what’s under threat when you keep people from buying a ticket to see Mulan at AMC. You can read the theaters’ full lawsuit here.

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AMC Theatres Delays Reopening to July 30

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Though the movie release schedule continues to shift as the film industry plans for reopening, so does the reopening date for one of the biggest theatre chains. AMC Theatres, who had planned to return to business on July 15, have now pushed back their reopening date until July 30.

Part of the reason for the move was the movie studios moving their blockbuster films out of July opening dates. Tenet recently shifted to Aug. 12. Disney's planned Mulan live action update is now shooting for an Aug. 21 launch. Those moves leave the month of July fairly bare for major film draws, which gave AMC the chance to push back its reopening plans.

AMC's CEO and President Adam Aron issued a statement, commenting, “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.”

Looking ahead, the Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged will be the primary film opening the weekend of July 31. August openings of note include Tenet (Aug. 12), Greenland (Aug. 14), Mulan (Aug. 21), Bill & Ted Face the Music (Aug. 28) and The New Mutants (Aug. 28). But with significant shifting still happening as the movie industry attempts to get back up and running, more changes could still be coming.

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AMC Reverses Course, Says Guests Must Wear Masks

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When your company announce something that sparks a boycott to trend on Twitter, odds are it was not the best decision.

That’s exactly what happened yesterday when AMC announced that it would not require guests to wear masks in its theaters when they begin reopening on July 15. AMC CEO Adam Aron specifically linked the decision to the way masks have become so politicized in certain parts of the country, saying his company “did not want to be drawn into a political controversy.” Aron reiterated that sentiment to CNN; while he would personally wear a mask at the movies, Aron explained, AMC “didn't want to step into that controversy.” Masks would be encouraged, but not required, for customers.

The reaction to that decision — which was essentially the same one made previously by AMC’s big competitors, Cinemark and Regal — was swift and harsh. #BoycottAMC began trending on Twitter. Even some filmmakers like Phil Lord and Mike Flanagan publicly questioned AMC’s rules.

Less than 24 hours later, AMC is already reversing course, saying in a new statement that “it is clear from this response we did not go far enough on the usage of masks,” and announcing that they “now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theatres.” Those that don’t have a mask will be able to buy one at the box office for $1.

The new announcement doesn’t mention concessions, but as of yesterday, they were still part of the “Safe & Clean” plan, albeit with a “simplified menu”.

Under normal circumstances, snack sales make up a huge part of movie theaters’ revenues, which is why — even more than any “politics” — it’s important for theaters to allow people not to cover their faces at all times. Simply put, you can’t eat popcorn through a mask.

AMC’s new announcement doesn’t specifically address whether you can take off a mask to eat some Starburst, although its language (noting that people must wear masks “as they enter and enjoy”) does leave a little potential wiggle room. That could result in rules similar to the basic ones announced on Twitter today by the Alamo Drafthouse, who said that when they reopen they will “require that guests wear masks at the theater (except when eating/drinking)” — which, at the Alamo is a large portion of the time. If you guests can take off their masks at any point to eat something, I’m not really sure what kind of a “requirement” they actually are.

I feel for movie theaters struggling to find a way to reopen that is safe and financially sustainable. It can’t be easy. But I also know that personally, I’m not going to be going to any theater where masks are optional (or “required,” but not all the time if you want to chow some Sno-Caps) any time soon. If I was in charge of a theater, I’d look to see if there was a way to supplant concession income somehow – maybe even selling cool movie-inspired masks to wear inside the theater. The goal has to be to make it safer for everyone who wants to attend.

UPDATE: Regal Cinemas has now changed its website’s coronavirus policy to state that “[like employees], guests will also be required to wear masks. Disposable masks will be made available as needed.” Regal had previously announced masks would be recommended but not required for guests.

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AMC Theaters Will Not Require Guests to Wear Masks

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We continue to approach that mid-July target when Hollywood studios want to begin releasing blockbusters again, which also means that’s the target for most of the big theater chains to reopen as well. Today, AMC Theatres, the country’s largest owner of multiplexes, told Variety it plans to have “450” of its 600 national theaters open on July 15, and “expects to be almost fully operational” by the time Mulan is scheduled for release on July 24.

AMC will have some additional safety measures to try to protect guests and employees from coronavirus, however the chain will not require customers to wear masks, except in local areas where states or cities have laws and regulations mandating masks in public. The company will also not check guests’ temperatures. (Masks and temperature checks will be required for employees.) In the early stages of reopening, AMC will only sell 30 percent of the available tickets for each showtime to ensure social distancing.

AMC CEO Adam Aron told Variety that the company “was wary of wading into a public health issue that has become politicized”:

We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy. We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.

I understand the financial pressure theater chains are under right now — and the fact that they earn a large portion of their revenue from snack sales. It’s hard to convince people to buy snacks when you also require them to wear masks at all times. But I’m not concerned about “politicized” public health issues, I’m worried about not dying. And I can’t see myself stepping foot inside any theater that doesn’t require masks for everyone any time soon.

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New York and Los Angeles Movie Theaters Plan to Reopen Next Month

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The Hollywood studios insist they will begin releasing blockbusters again in July. Right now Disney’s Mulan is the first scheduled to open, on July 24. One week later, Christopher Nolan’s new thriller Tenet is expected. In August, there’s Antebellum, The New Mutants, and Bill & Ted Face the Music. In September, there’s twice as many wide releases scheduled.

All of these movies need places to screen though, and in many parts of the country, theaters remain closed — and in many parts of the country, coronavirus cases are beginning to spike again as well. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, the United States’ biggest theater chains expect that theaters will be open in most places, including the country’s largest markets, New York City and Los Angeles.

Regal announced this week that “the majority” of its locations will be open two weeks before Mulan is set to premiere. Both Cinemark and AMC are operating a long a similar timetable — with similar safety protocols to try to limit guests’ potential exposure to coronavirus. Per THR, that should include New York and LA:

None of the circuits have announced specific plans for New York City and Los Angeles since they first need the go-ahead from local authorities, yet numerous sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that movie chains and Hollywood now believe cinemas there will be once again be allowed to welcome customers on July 10.

Okay, so the theaters will be open. We now approach a Field of Dreams-esque situation: If you open it, will they come?

In certain parts of the country, I imagine the answer will be “yes.” Will I go? Almost certainly not. I’m certainly not taking the subway or a bus — which is what I would need to visit almost any theater, even in Brooklyn. I’m trying to imagine a scenario where I would go see something like Tenet right now — even at a private screening for film critics. I suppose if it was in a location that wasn’t open to the public, with very limited and very socially distanced attendance, and I could get there somehow without public transportation, I might consider it. In a public scenario, where anyone could walk in off the street and buy a ticket? No way — particularly since none of these large multiplex chains have committed to forcing customers to wear masks while attending. (If customers wear masks, they can’t eat snacks. If they can’t eat snacks, they don’t buy snacks. If they don’t buy snacks, the theaters don’t make money.)

I would wager there are very few people on the planet who miss going to the theater more than I do. It’s more than three months since I was last in a theater; I literally cannot remember another time in my life where that was true. It suuuuuuucks being stuck at home. But it’s not worth risking actual death to watch any movie — and so far, all the evidence I have seen suggests that enclosed spaces where people spend prolonged times together are probably best avoided. Until someone proves otherwise, for me, it’s drive-ins or bust.

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AMC Says Nearly All Its Theaters Will Be Open in July

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Ready or not, the American economy is gradually reopening after months of business closures because of the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has touched so many different corners of the economy, but it has been especially hard on the world of movies. Production on new movies has shut down, and thousands of theaters around the world have closed, some forever.

Those that survive are now tentatively moving towards the day when guests will be invited back. Cinemark has already said it is planning to reopen its theaters in July and now AMC, the country’s largest chain, says it expects “almost all” its theaters to reopen in the U.S. and U.K. in July.

According to The New York Times, the chain will add a host of safety measures to try to keep employees and guests as safe as possible:

Theater employees will be required to wear masks. Moviegoers may only be encouraged to wear them. AMC said it was looking into high-tech vacuums, “electrostatic sprayers” and upgraded ventilation systems. Clorox may serve as a cleanliness adviser.

Cinemark has already announced a similar mask policy; they’re a must for employees and optional for customers. (Theaters make most of their money from concession sales; they ain’t gonna sell too many nachos and Icees if people have to wear masks the whole time.)

The theater executives the Times spoke to “say they are confident that aggressive safety measures will offset any fears.” And they are also limiting the number of guests who can attend any screening, encouraging advance ticket sales, increasing cleanings and sanitization procedures, and spacing people out in auditoriums to ensure proper social distancing.

Still, the anecdotal evidence I’ve received from talking with dozens of movie lovers online is that most people are just not ready to go to a theater yet. They want to be ready. They’re desperate to escape from the real world for a couple hours. But these proposals don’t necessarily sound like an escape, and most folks I’ve spoken to are not ready to risk actual death to watch Tenet. Their fears, unfounded or not, have not been offset. At least not yet.

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AMC Theatres Says It Has ‘Substantial Doubt’ About Its Future

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It’s been pushed off the front pages in recent days by other urgent issues, but the coronavirus has not gone away. Thousands around the country are still sick, and many businesses are still shuttered — including most movie theaters. Most of the big exhibitor chains have said they hope to resume something like regular business in July, when Disney is scheduled to release Mulan and Warner Bros. hopes to premiere Christopher Nolan’ Tenet. But with much of the country still under various stay-at-home orders, there’s still a lot of doubt about that.

According to Variety, the nation’s biggest theater chain has doubt too — about its own ability to stay in business. In “public filings” this week, AMC Theatres stated it had “ … substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time.”

This declaration came as the company announced it had lost more than $2 billion in the first quarter of 2020:

That is largely attributable to a $2 billion impairment charge related to the coronavirus shutdown.  Net losses for the quarter increased to $224.5 million,  up from $101.8 million in the prior-year period, while revenue fell to $941.5 million, down from $1.2 billion in the same quarter in 2019.

The company did state that they they did “believe” they would reopen its theaters later this summer. But there’ uncertainty about that as well, and they added that they “never previously experienced a complete cessation of our operations, and as a consequence, our ability to be predictive is uncertain.” AMC has already raised some $500 million in new debt during this crisis. Like they said: Substantial doubt.

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Regal Cinemas To Reopen By July

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Cineworld, the company that owns Regal Cinemas, has shared that it expects to reopen its doors in July. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the company “has put in place procedures to ensure a safe and enjoyable cinema experience for its employees and customers.” This means we’ll most likely see cinemas open at partial capacity, with heightened sanitation practices between screenings. But at least we’ll finally be allowed to go to a movie theater.

Along with this announcement, Cineworld also revealed that the company will be boosting its liquidity by $110 million to ensure Cinemark’s survival. Cineworld expects that this additional liquidity “will provide it with sufficient headroom to support the group even in the unlikely event cinemas remain closed until the end of the year.” This is a long game, and business strategies such as these can make or break the future of movie theaters.

When Regal Cinemas hopefully do reopen in July, they’ll begin by premiering Disney’s live-action remake Mulan and Christopher Nolan’s psychological thriller Tenet. Mulan’s release was pushed from March 27 to July 24, while Tenet always had a July 17 release from the beginning. As far as the other major theater chains, AMC has stated that it won’t come back until there’s new studio content, while Cinemark is looking at a potential July reopening. We might be in the home stretch now.

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AMC Buys Rights to 18 Anne Rice Novels

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It sounds like a new cinematic (or at least televisual) universe is brewing: One dedicated to the literary works of Anne Rice, the author behind The Vampire Chronicles and many more supernatural novels. In a press release, AMC announced it had purchased the rights to a whopping 18 Rice novels from the Vampire Chronicles and The Lives of the Mayfair Witches series, with the intent to generate a whole bunch of new content for its networks and streaming services.

AMC has also hired Friday Night Lights and Weeds writer and producer Rolin Jones to develop projects based on the Rice material. Here is the list of Rice titles involved in the deal:

The Anne Rice catalog that AMC Networks is acquiring features The Vampire Chronicles series: Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the Body Thief, Memnoch The Devil, The Vampire Armand, Pandora, Vittorio the Vampire, Blood and Gold, Prince Lestat, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, and Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat; The Lives of The Mayfair Witches series: The Witching Hour, Lasher, Taltos; and The Vampire Chronicles/The Lives Of The Mayfair Witches crossover novels: Merrick, Blackwood Farm and Blood Canticle.

Rice herself said of the news “It’s always been my dream to see the worlds of my two biggest series united under a single roof so that filmmakers could explore the expansive and interconnected universe of my vampires and witches. That dream is now a reality, and the result is one of the most significant and thrilling deals of my long career.”

AMC has obviously had enormous success in recent years with its multifaceted Walking Dead franchise, which was based on a long-running Image comic book. Now they get to continue serving that audience with shows (and possibly movies) about vampires and witches. If they get a Frankenstein’s Monster show on the books next they pull off a hyper-rare Supernatural Monster TV Bingo.

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Amazon Is Reportedly Interested in Buying AMC Theatres

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Even before the coronavirus pandemic, AMC Theatres was not in great financial shape. The country’s largest theater chain, with around 1,000 screens, was already saddled with several billion dollars in debt. With its theaters closed because of the pandemic, AMC had to raise even more debt to stay in business last month. Many are predicting the company could go into bankruptcy.

Other rumors suggest the company could be bought outright. Daily Mail reports that Amazon “is circling” the company in consideration of adding its theaters to the online retailer’s enormous empire:

Sources said the online shopping and technology giant, run by billionaire Jeff Bezos, has run the rule over America's AMC Theatres, the world's largest cinema chain, which also owns Odeon in the UK. The duo are thought to have held talks about a potential takeover of AMC by Amazon. However, it is not clear if the discussions are still active or if they will lead to a deal, sources said.

Amazon has considered getting into the theatrical movie business before; they were reportedly one of the potential buyers for the arthouse chain of Landmark Theaters, which were sold in 2018 to Cohen Media Group. AMC would give Amazon not only a place to show its own movies, but a place to show all movies; not to mention a great space to advertise all of Amazon’s products and services. It would not be that far off in theory from Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Market in 2017.

Of course, grocery stores are currently open; movie theaters, by and large, are not. Still, odds are something drastic will have to happen if AMC Theatres are going to reopen in the near future.

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AMC Won’t Reopen Its Theaters Until It Has New Movies to Show

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In some parts of the country — like Georgia, for examplemovie theaters will be able to open as soon as next week. The key word there is able. Just because they can, doesn’t mean they will, as exhibitors weigh the risks of opening their doors before the coronavirus pandemic is fully under control.

The other issue for theaters is figuring out what to show even if they do reopen next week. The 2020 summer movie season is basically postponed at this point, with every major studio delaying all of their big titles from April, May, and June until later this year or even into 2021. Today, the nation’s largest theater chain, AMC, announced that its theaters will remain closed at least until Hollywood resumes something like a regular release schedule.

Here is their statement on the news (via THR):

As we plan our reopening, the health and safety of our guests and associates is our absolute highest priority. To be able to open, we also need a line of sight into a regular schedule of new theatrical blockbusters that get people truly excited about returning to their favorite movie theatres. Those blockbusters are scheduled to return this summer, beginning with Warner Brothers’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan, with many more major titles scheduled immediately thereafter.

Tenet is currently scheduled for release on July 17; Mulan was originally expected in theaters on March 27; it’s new release date is July 24. Of course, it wouldn’t take much for either of those dates to move. If the country experiences a new rise in cases some time in May or June, that could be the last straw for Warner Bros. and Disney. If AMC holds to this plan, and something delays Tenet and Mulan, then they wouldn’t open until some time around August 14, when Wonder Woman 1984 is currently scheduled. Unless that gets bumped back too, and so on and so forth.

This shows you just how tricky it will be to get movie theaters back up and running. It’s not just a matter of getting the virus under control. There needs to be movies to show too — and a lot of these movies cost so much to make and market that studios will not take a piecemeal approach to a release. If theaters in Georgia are open, for example, but the rest of the country remains closed, Disney’s not going to let them show Mulan. Enough theaters need to be open to make it worth their while financially. Which means we might be waiting for theaters for reopen even longer than we thought.

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Good Charlotte – Keep Your Hands Off My Girl

Let the record play,
Let the record play,
Let the record play.
The way that you dance,
The way that you move,
The way that you stare at me across the room,
You carry Dion bags,
And you got your Chanel,
You wear L Louis Vuitton, ASG, and YSL,
Now I got what you need,
I got DCMA,
I got brass knuckles hanging,
From my neck and my chain,
I got a model 26,
But she stays in her place,
I got a curve shirt neatly,
Tucked inside in my waist.
And the record keeps playing,
The same old song,
The hipster keeps mugging on me all night long,
They say "Aha, ahha",
Keep your hands off my girl,
Keep your hands off my girl,
They say "Aha, ahha",
But the record keeps playing,
The same old song,
They say "Aha, ahha",
Keep your hands off my girl,
Keep your hands off my girl.
Now she sweating my friends,
And my hurricane shoes,
She likes the records I spin,
But out important tattoos,
But she can’t say "what’s up",
So what does she do,
She just stays posted up,
The other side of the room,
I got AMC tattooed in my hand,
I got black wall street on a black bandana.
And the record keeps playing,
The same old song,
The hipster keeps mugging on me all night long,
They say "Aha, ahha",
Keep your hands off my girl,
Keep your hands off my girl,
They say "Aha, ahha",
But the record keeps playing,
The same old song,
They say "Aha, ahha",
Keep your hands off my girl,
Keep your hands off my girl.
She, she, she don’t wanna talk about it,
He, he, he wants to fight about,
Me, me, I don’t wanna fight about it,
I just wanna be about it,
I’m just trying to stay about it,
Step out the wagon,
You know the boy starts to hate,
The girl that came with him,
They like that’s not the boy she dates,
They get the fighting and swearing,
And now the boyfriend is staring,
The disco ball on the ceiling,
Looks like the chain that I’m wearing,
But the music keeps playing,
I got brass knuckles hanging,
From my neck and my chain,
I got brass knuckles hanging,
From my neck and my chain.
And the record keeps playing,
The same old song,
The hipster keeps mugging on me all night long,
They say "Aha, ahha",
Keep your hands off my girl,
Keep your hands off my girl,
And the record keeps playing,
The same old song,
The hipster keeps mugging on me all night long,
They say "Aha, ahha",
Keep your hands off my girl,
Keep your hands off my girl.
You carry Dion bags,
And you got your Chanel,
You wear Louis Vuitton, ASG, and YSL
Now I got what you need,
I got DCMA,
I got brass knuckles hanging,
From my neck and my chain,
I got brass knuckles hanging,
From my neck and my chain.