When the coronavirus pandemic caused entertainment venues to close, small, independent theaters looked to be in the most danger. Now, with venues in most states still closed nearly three months in, the giants of the industry are beginning to worry, too. AMC Theatres, the largest movie-theater chain in the country, reported in a financial filing on June 3 that the company had “substantial doubt” about its ability to stay in business once movie theaters could reopen, according to CNN. “We are generating effectively no revenue,” the company wrote of its second quarter in the filing, while estimating first-quarter losses between $2.1 billion and $2.4 billion. In April, AMC had a cash balance of $718.3 million. While the company said it had the resources to reopen “this summer or later,” AMC wrote in the filing, “Our liquidity needs thereafter will depend, among other things, on the timing of a full resumption of operations, the timing of movie releases and our ability to generate revenues.”
Even if movie theaters are able to reopen across the country in coming months, it’s likely that they’ll operate at a reduced capacity to maintain social distancing, much like restaurants in states that have currently reopened. And just because theaters reopen doesn’t mean potential customers will feel comfortable going out yet — especially with many movies now coming out on demand, and continuing to do so as theaters return to business. (When it reopens, AMC will no longer show Universal movies, after the studio said it will release future movies simultaneously in theaters and on demand, given the success of its Trolls: World Tour release.) At least we know the drive-ins will survive.