Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas to Require Face Masks Upon Reopening

Courtesy of Heather Kennedy

The announcement followed a backlash over comments made Thursday by AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron as to why his circuit isn't requiring masks.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas said Friday it will require patrons to wear face masks when it reopens its theaters.

The tweet followed a backlash over initial comments made by AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron regarding why his chain won't require customers to do so (AMC has since reversed course).

"When we open, the safety of our teammates and guests cannot be compromised. This is not political," Alamo said in a tweet Friday morning. "We will require that guests wear masks at the theater [except when eating/drinking). Those without a mask will be given one."

All cinemas in the U.S. went dark in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. They are now planning to reopen in mid-July, albeit with sanitary and social distancing measures in place.

Alamo, headquartered in Austin, is one of the country's leading independent cinema chains and operates 40-plus locations across the U.S. Virtually all Alamo locations have have been shuttered since mid-March because of coronavirus concerns.

Alamo said Friday its reopening plans are forthcoming.

On Thursday, AMC unveiled its initial reopening plan, which included a slew of enhanced sanitary and social distancing measures. The chain plans to open 450 or so of its U.S. theaters on July 15, and all 600 should be open by July 24, in time for Disney's Mulan and Warner Bros.' Tenet. AMC said it would strongly encourage customers to wear masks (all employees will wear masks) and will require them to do so where ordered by local authorities.

In comments to Variety, Aron elaborated and said he didn't want to make masks a requirement and be drawn into a political controversy. His remarks sparked a furor on social media, even though there wasn't the same sort of backlash earlier in the week when Regal Cinemas and Cinemark Theatres likewise announced that masks wouldn't be a requirement unless mandated by local authorities.

Minutes after the Alamo news, AMC reversed course and said it would make masks a requirement for customers. It remains to be seen whether Regal and Cinemark will do the same.

June 19, 10:15 a.m. Updated with AMC's Friday plan to require masks for customers.