AMC Theatres Delays U.S. Reopening to August

AMC Empire in New York City 3 —Publicity - H  2020
Courtesy of Peter McClintock

The largest U.S. exhibitor previously planned to open the majority of its locations at the end of July, with the rest following in early August.

AMC Theatres, the largest movie theater circuit in the U.S., said Thursday that it would postpone the reopening of its domestic cinemas from the end of July to "mid to late" August due to the continued novel coronavirus pandemic.

"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 it tied the relaunch of its U.S. circuit to available studio product.

AMC has already reopened around one-third of its screens in Europe and the Middle East.

The Hollywood studios' release schedule has been thrown into disarray again by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, pushing back such tentpoles as Disney's Mulan and Warner Bros.' Tenet.

AMC had previously planned to open the majority of its locations July 15, followed by the remaining 150 locations by July 24, but then pushed back the reopening of a majority of venues to the end of July, with the rest following in early August.

Fellow big exhibitors Cinemark and Cineworld-owned Regal Cinemas could follow suit.

B. Riley FBR analyst Eric Wold in a recent report lowered his stock price targets for movie theater operators and projected that the 2021 box office would fall about 20 percent below 2019 levels – when the domestic haul reached $11.4 billion and global revenue hit $42.5 billion, following the novel coronavirus pandemic.

He also argued that a gradual opening of cinemas, starting in markets where that is possible, could "bolster sentiment" among investors, but also warned: "We are less certain that studios will wait for the perfect date to release their films — as that perfect date may never arrive."