Alamo Drafthouse Won't Reopen Texas Theaters This Weekend

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema - Austin - Publicity  2- H 2020
Heather Kennedy

Earlier on Monday, the state's Republican governor said certain businesses could begin flipping on the lights as of Friday.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on Monday cautioned consumers it won't reopen its Texas locations this weekend hours after the state said it would begin lifting stay-at-home orders instituted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

"Opening safely is a very complex project that involves countless new procedures and equipment, all of which require extensive training. This is something we cannot and will not do casually or quickly. We will not be opening this weekend," an Alamo spokesperson said in a statement. "But know this, when we do open, we will be providing the safest possible experience for both our staff and our guests and we can’t wait to see you all again!”

The statement came in response to remarks made earlier in the day by Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who gave the go-ahead for certain businesses, including cinemas, to reopen as of Friday as long as crowds are limited to 25 or fewer people.

Alamo joins a chorus of theater circuits who say they don't expect to flip on the lights until summer even as a number of states begin relaxing shelter-in-place edicts. They include AMC Entertainment and Cinemark Entertainment, two of the country's three largest circuits (Cinemark, like Alamo, is based in Texas).

The prevailing hope among Hollywood and theater owners is that cinemas will be back online in time for Christopher Nolan's Tenet, which set to open July 17. It is possible that cinemas could begin opening on a staggered basis in June, and offer repertory titles for a short period of time. But it all depends on the number of COVID-19 cases in a particular jurisdiction.

The majority of the country's 5,500-plus movie theaters have been shuttered since March 20, while Hollywood studios quickly pulled their movies from the spring and early summer calendar.