Tag: AMC

Stephen King Feels ‘Terrible’ After Visiting a Movie Theater

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Last Saturday, Stephen King decided to go to the movies with his nephew. Afterwards, he felt “terrible.” Not because moviegoers were sitting too close, or because the concession stands weren’t being cleaned. But because there simply weren’t enough patrons to warrant the theater being open. According to King, there were more screens than there were customers. He documented the experience in a Twitter post, sharing his concern for the future of the moviegoing experience:

As movie theaters slowly reopen their doors to the public, we’re quickly learning that things have drastically changed. Major chains including AMC and Cinemark have decided to remain open, despite the lack of blockbusters headed for a theatrical release in 2020. Theaters that are up and running have established strict social distancing and high cleanliness standards. So technically, if someone really wanted to see Tenet, there’s a way they could do so that complies with Covid-19 protocols. But that doesn’t necessarily mean people are willing to risk it.

All this is compounded by the fact that health and government officials are discouraging the public from attending movie theaters. In August, epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed stated that going to the movies is just about “the last thing” he'd do during the pandemic. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo listed movie theaters as one of the “least essential businesses” as gyms began to reopen.

King already tapped into a post-pandemic reality with his 1978 novel The Stand, which has been adapted into a new series for CBS All Access. The first episode premieres on December 17.

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AMC Theatres Could Run Out of Money By the End of the Year

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Film fans are increasingly facing a question that would have seemed impossible even a year ago: Are movie theaters about to disappear forever? With the coronavirus pandemic not ending in the immediate future, with many theaters around the country still closed, with studios pushing their big releases back further and further in 2021 and 2022, the theatrical industry faces greater and greater peril. Regal Cinemas has already re-closed the theaters they reopened around the end of the summer due to lack of customers and lack of new movies. Now their biggest rival says they face significant financial issues as well.

CNN reports that AMC Theatres announced it could run out of money by the end of the year without some sort of new funds. Basically there are only two solutions to the problem:

AMC Theatres said Tuesday that its existing cash resources would be "largely depleted" by the end of 2020 or early 2021 because of the "reduced movie slate for the fourth quarter," as well as "the absence of significant increases in attendance from current levels." The company said it has two ways out of its cash crisis: Either more customers need to buy tickets, or it will have to find new ways to borrow money.

AMC says it’s seen 2.2 million customers return since they reopened during the summer — a reduction in attendance from 2019 of some 85%. That’s not good.

Barring some very inventive advertising, or ideas for allowing visitors to use their theaters for things other than movies (video games, TV, private parties), that first option does not seem very viable. Which means AMC needs to borrow more money — and the company already has quite a bit of debt. And now the clock is ticking. The longer we go without a vaccine for the virus, the longer audiences don’t feel safe to return to theaters, the realer the possibility that when things do improve the movie theater industry will be a shell of its former self forever.

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AMC Theatres Remain Open Following Regal Closures

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AMC Theaters, the top exhibitor in the world, is remaining open during the pandemic. The announcement follows the news that Cineworld would be shutting down its U.K. theaters and its Regal locations in the U.S. AMC is joined by Cinemark, the third largest exhibitor in the world, in operating during these uncertain times.

Currently, more than 80 percent of AMC’s locations are open across the country. The company plans on reopening more locations in California and New York, as soon as they’re given the green light by state and county officials. “We take great comfort in knowing that literally millions of moviegoers have already visited our theatres,” said AMC CEO and President Adam Aron. “They have done so in part because of our AMC Safe & Clean protocols, developed in consultation with Clorox and faculty of the Harvard University School of Public Health.”

According to Aron, AMC's “groundbreaking agreement” with Universal Studios puts AMC in a fortunate position to remain open. “We are fully comfortable showing Universal films in our theaters, even as they implement premium video on demand as we have mutually agreed,” said Aron. Earlier in the year, AMC and Universal got into a conflict over Universal's decision to send Trolls World Tour directly to Premium VOD before a traditional theatrical run. However, Aron shared that Universal would be sharing its “premium revenues” with AMC due to the films’ “early availability in the home.”

Although AMC Theaters and Cinemark have several locations up and running, moviegoers may still hesitate in returning so soon. With so many at-home viewing options available, a risky trip to the movies just might not be in the cards right now.

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Regal Will Reportedly Close All Of Its Theaters Again

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Theaters around the country and world closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The blockbusters that filled their screens were postponed as most of the globe went into lockdown. The chains instituted new safety measures and cautiously reopened at the end of the summer in time for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. But then Tenet underperformed at the box office, and the pandemic continued to threaten many parts of the United States. Almost all the movies planned for the weeks after Tenet moved back to Christmas or later. Last week, No Time to Die, which had been scheduled for a major worldwide release this November, suddenly announced it would now come out in April.

It seems as if that release was the lifeline that some theaters have been clinging to since Tenet. And now it is gone. Now Variety reports that one of the world’s largest theater companies, Cineworld — the owner of Regal Cinemas in the U.S. — is planning to close all sites in both countries as early as this week, with staff notified ahead of Monday.” Cineworld is the biggest owner of theaters in the United Kingdom; Regal is the second-biggest chain in America behind AMC. The article says cinemas “ could stay closed until 2021.”

Movie theaters and movie studios need each other, and their symbiotic relationship is becoming an increasingly self-destructive one. Audiences are already understandably cautious about returning to theaters during a pandemic that spreads easily in enclosed spaces. Meanwhile there have been no major releases since early September. There’s no movies to see, so no one goes to the movies, so the studios don’t want to release any movies because no one is going. They keep pushing things back to 2021 or 2022. Meanwhile, exhibitors are bleeding money, paying rent, paying staff, paying for concessions and cleaning, when no one is coming. It’s quite possible that many theaters could go out of business altogether. By the time the studios are ready to release these movies… where will people go to watch them? It’s like watching the business version of The Human Centipede, with these entities inextricably tied together, killing one another.

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‘The Walking Dead’ To End After Season 11

href=”//screencrush.com/author/screencrushstaff/” rel=”author” title=”ScreenCrush Staff”>ScreenCrush StaffPublished: September 9, 2020AMC

All good things must come to an end, including the end of the world in a zombie apocalypse.

The actual finale is still a ways off, but AMC has announced that The Walking Dead is starting to wind down. The show will conclude after its upcoming Season 11. The good news here: Season 11 is a super-sized 24 episodes, and there are six bonus episodes of Season 10 coming, along with the Season 10 finale that was previously delayed due to the coronavirus. So even with “the end” in sight it’s still quite a ways off. There’s still more than 30 hours of story left to go.

Plus, even when The Walking Dead does end, the story will continue, with two new spinoffs joining the existing fleet of Walking Dead series. A spinoff about Norman Reedus’ Daryl and Melissa McBride’s Carol will debut in 2023. A second spinoff called Tales of the Walking Dead will join it — and this one is an anthology series that will focus on both new and existing characters. It’s possible long-dead favorites could return on that show, filling in details of their lives before they became zombie food.

Those spinoffs join existing series Fear the Walking Dead and the new The Walking Dead: World Beyond that’s set to premiere on AMC next month. So that’s a total of four different Walking Dead spinoffs to replace the original series. That should take some of the, uh, bite, out of losing the original series.

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Judge Rules Against NJ Movie Theaters Demanding to Be Reopened

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In one of the bolder attempts to get movie theaters reopened in the age of coronavirus, three of the biggest theater chains in the country (AMC, Cinemark, and Regal) filed suit against the State of New Jersey back in July. They argued that keeping theaters closed while other businesses and places of worship were allowed to reopen was “a violation of [their] First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.” The National Association of Theater Owners of New Jersey hoped that a judge would agree, and force the state to permit theaters to resume operations — a move that could then conceivably be replicated in other parts of the country where the government has extended theater closures.

Things didn’t work out as planned. Today, a judge in New Jersey ruled against the theaters, saying their rights were not violated by the coronavirus closures. You can read the judge’s entire opinion at Variety, but here is a key summation:

The theaters had argued that the state was discriminating against them by allowing churches to remain open while theaters were ordered to close. But in his 33-page opinion, Martinotti found that the order is content-neutral, and that the state had shown it was a reasonable response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can’t fault companies for wanting to reopen, stay in business, and so on. But “protecting people from getting ill — possibly fatally — inside my theater infringes on my right to say things” always felt like a questionable legal argument to me.

Whatever the legalities of this particular decision, it has major ramifications for the theater industry beyond New Jersey. We’re less than two weeks from the supposed release of The New Mutants, followed by the American premiere of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. This ruling theater chains will almost certainly not be able to force a mass reopening by then. And without all those theaters in the Northeast and elsewhere, the grosses on these early fall releases will be necessarily diminished. And when the box office receipts come in, other studios are going to think long and hard about their own fall release plans.

Gallery — 15 Reasons We Miss Movie Theaters Right Now

AMC Theaters Reopening With 15 Cent Tickets

href=”//screencrush.com/author/mattsinger/” rel=”author” title=”Matt Singer”>Matt SingerPublished: August 13, 2020Getty Images

Closed since March, AMC Theatres says it will now reopen its theaters on August 20. To encourage people to return, per CNN, the world’s largest theater chain is offering "movies in 2020 at 1920 prices” — 15 cents. You can see a movie during a global pandemic for the same price people paid during the last global pandemic! What a bargain!

The special rate is good only on opening day, although you still won’t pay full price right away after that:

After opening day, tickets will still be available for cheaper than usual. Tickets for films like "Inception," "Black Panther," "Back to the Future" and "The Empire Strikes Back" will cost $5. AMC is bringing back old films since the North American box office has been essentially at a standstill with so many new movies have been delayed this year because of the outbreak.

The company expects to have two-thirds of its 600 American theaters open in time for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which is currently scheduled to open in America on September 3. Of course, a lot can change between then and now. But that’s the plan.

In areas where theaters are ordered to remain closed by local governments, AMC will obviously comply, so your local theater may not reopen next week or even for weeks or months. And even if your theater does open, there’s still the matter of contending with a policy that allows guests to remove their masks in the theater to eat or drink. The medical bills afterwards could possibly be astronomical, but hey: 15 cents movies!

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AMC and Universal Agree to Shorten Time Between Theaters and VOD

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In news that could have enormous ramifications for the future of movie theaters, AMC Theatres and Universal Pictures have reached an agreement that would shorten the time between a film’s premiere in multiplexes and its debut on streaming. Traditionally, major blockbusters wait at least 70-90 days from their theatrical debut to become available on VOD. Now, AMC and Universal agreed to let some films go from theaters to PVOD (premium video on demand, meaning higher prices) after only 17 days.

According to the Associated Press

The new deal covers Universal films in the U.S. over the next three years. After a run of at least three weekends, Universal (and its specialty label, Focus Features) will have the option of steering a film to premium on-demand services, including AMC’s own service. The companies noted the shortened window only applies to premium video-on-demand — which often means digital rentals of $20 — not standard on-demand or other home platforms.

According to The New York Times Brooks Barnes, “AMC will be getting a cut of Universal PVOD revenue” as part of this new deal, which gives them a big financial incentive to shorten that window, which traditionally protected movie theaters’ turf.

The deal comes after AMC “banned” Universal movies from its theaters earlier this spring, when Universal decided not to delay its March release Trolls World Tour after movie theaters closed due to the pandemic. Instead, they shifted the movie to a PVOD release. AMC, which controls 1,000 theaters globally and is the largest theater chain in the United States, holds enough market share to make that ban, had they stuck to it, a significant problem for Universal.

In practice, AMC never banned anything because theaters have remained closed in the interim. The question now becomes whether AMC will strike similar deals with other studios, and whether Universal or other studios will strike similar deals with theater chains like Regal. But if this shortened theatrical window becomes the new standard, it could have a major impact on the finances of theaters of all shapes and sizes.

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‘Tenet’ Might Open Overseas Before It Plays in the U.S.

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Just last month, movie theaters confidently announced they would be back up and running by mid-July, with new safety measures designed to protect guests from exposure to Covid-19.

The coronavirus had other plans. Cases around the country have skyrocketed, and now all of the movies that were left on the summer release calendar — the ones that were inspiring exhibitors to try to open back up by mid-July — are postponed to a later date. AMC has already said they now won’t open their theaters until mid-August at the earliest. Even if they did, without Tenet, Mulan, and A Quiet Place: Part II there wouldn’t be much to show.

Other countries have done a far better job at containing the coronavirus, and in some areas, theaters can reopen, or have already. (Many Chinese movie theaters were expected to reopen today, with rules about social distancing and a ban on eating and drinking in the theater.) When they reopen, they need movies to show. The studios have movies sitting on the shelf just waiting to be released. Could they skip the American market for now, and release their movies internationally?

Variety says yes. In fact, their sources claim that Warner Bros. is considering a plan to release Tenet in Europe, where theaters are already open, in a month:

Exhibitors in the U.K., France and Spain have been told by the studio to plan for an Aug. 26-28 launch. The dates are not confirmed, though sources indicate that talks are positive. It’s understood the studio is also aiming to release the film early in Asia, with exhibitors in the region expecting to receive a new date in the next few days.

When Warner Bros. delayed Tenet’s American release, they said in a statement that they were not going to treat it “like a traditional global day-and-date release,” suggesting that the movie could open in certain international markets before others. The main reason not to try it, particularly with a movie like Tenet, is because as soon as the movie is playing in theaters, the internet will be swamped with spoilers (and possibly even pirated copies), which could severely hurt the film’s box office potential in places where it’s yet to open.

On the other hand, if you can’t release Tenet anywhere until you can release it everywhere at once, it might not be screened for a very long time. If only there was some kind of technology that allowed people to move forwards and backwards through time, these kinds of tough decisions would be easier to make.

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AMC Theatres Now Won’t Reopen Until ‘Mid to Late’ August

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The main reason to rush to re-open theaters by a specific date would be if there were major Hollywood blockbusters opening. If Tenet’s gonna premiere on August 12, theaters have to be accepting customers by that date. It‘s sort of a “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, did anyone actually catch coronavirus?”-type situation.

Now Tenet is delayed indefinitely, and already the largest movie theater chain in America, AMC Theatres, has pushed back its own opening. According to a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, AMC will now reopen its multiplexes in “mid to late August.” They were previously scheduled to reopen many of their theaters by the end of this month.

Here is more from their statement, which confirms that without new movies, there’s very little incentive for AMC to risk a premature reopening:

‘This new timing reflects currently expected release dates for much anticipated blockbusters like Warner Bros.' Tenet and Disney's Mulan, as well as release dates for several other new movies coming to AMC's big screens,’ the company said in a statement.

As of this writing Mulan has not followed Tenet off the release calendar; it’s still scheduled for release on August 21. If Disney holds to that date, AMC could theoretically be open in time to screen it. (Although Warner Bros. has confirmed no new date for Tenet, several reporters have hinted that it could premiere in late August or early September, which would also align with AMC’s new plan.)

For a variety of reasons, this is a smart decision. Besides the lack of new movies, there’s also the unavoidable fact that in much of the United States, the state of the coronavirus pandemic is worse now than when movie theaters first closed back in March. If you closed then for essentially this same exact situation — or worse! — why are you reopening now? If the pandemic does not improve quickly, these theaters need to figure out a good answer to that question.

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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.

Gallery — What We Miss Most About Movie Theaters:

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

href=”//screencrush.com/author/mattsinger/” rel=”author” title=”Matt Singer”>Matt SingerCorbis via Getty Images

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.

Gallery — What We Miss Most About Going to Movie Theaters:

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.

Gallery — What We Miss Most About Going To Movie Theaters:

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.

Gallery — What We Miss Most About Movie Theaters:

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

href=”//screencrush.com/author/mattsinger/” rel=”author” title=”Matt Singer”>Matt SingerCorbis via Getty Images

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.

Gallery — What We Miss Most About Going to the Movie Theater:

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.