Update, June 19, 2 p.m.: AMC Theaters is “reversing course” on their masks policy and will now require all patrons to wear masks. The company released a statement this afternoon, stating:
“This announcement prompted an intense and immediate outcry from our customers, and it is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks. At AMC Theatres, we think it is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests. Accordingly, and with the full support of our scientific advisors, we are reversing course and are changing our guest mask policy. As we reopen theatres, we now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theatres. The speed with which AMC moved to revise our mask policies is a reflection of our commitment to the safety and health of our guests.”
Ready or not, movie theaters are plotting their comeback. AMC, the largest movie theater franchise in the world, announced on Thursday that it will reopen 450 of its 600 movie theaters on July 15th. Yes, you read that right. 450 movie theaters will be opening their doors in the less than a month. And that’s not all. AMC is not requiring that movie theatergoers wear masks in regions where masks are not required by law. “In areas of the country where guests are required to wear masks, AMC will abide by that ordinance and guests will be required to wear masks except while eating and drinking,” said AMC CEO Adam Aron in a statement. “Guests at other locations are strongly encouraged to wear a mask during their visit to AMC.” Beyond strongly encouraging guests to take vital and necessary precautions to stop the spread of a global pandemic, AMC will also make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and $1 masks available at all locations.
The remaining 25% of AMC’s movie theaters that are not opening on July 15th are set to open on July 24th, in time for both Disney’s Mulan and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, two widely anticipated summer releases. While the theater chain isn’t making patrons wear masks, it is requiring its employees follow CDC guidelines. “All theatre associates are required to wear masks while in the theatre,” said Aron. “All theatre associates will take their temperature and undergo a health assessment screening prior to their shift. If any theatre associate is found to have a fever or symptoms or self-reports a fever or symptoms, he or she will not work but will be compensated nonetheless.” AMC is also implementing its own social distance protocol, setting four phases in its approach to seating capacity limits, with phase one cutting back on available seats by 30%. If none of this feels you with confidence regarding how our nation is handling reopening, AMC is reopening after Regal Cinemas, which is set to reopen on July 10th just in time to screen Russel Crowe’s Unhinged, the first new studio film to debut on the big screen since the coronavirus pandemic began. Russel Crowe starring in a film called Unhinged? This feels like a bad omen.