AMC Theatres to Reopen Most U.S. Locations on July 15

VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Like other circuits, the country's largest theater chain will implement a wide array of social distancing and sanitary measures.

AMC Theatres — the largest cinema circuit in the world — will open 450 of its U.S. locations on July 15 followed by the remaining 150 on July 24, in time for Disney's Mulan and Warner Bros.' Tenet.

Like its rivals, the movie chain is implementing a wide array of sanitary and social distancing measures, including staggered seating, in order to make customers feel comfortable amid ongoing concerns about COVID-19.

AMC will approach seating capacity limitations in four distinct phases. Phase 1, which commences July 15, reduces seating capacity to 30 percent. In non-recliner auditoriums, AMC will automatically block out every other row of seats for every showtime.

During Phase 2, capacity will rise to 40 percent and to 50 percent during Phase 3, which is expected to commence around Labor Day. Full capacity may not be allowed until Thanksgiving. (The dates of these third and fourth phases may be adjusted based on local and regional health conditions at the time.)

AMC CEO Adam Aron said his circuit came up with its reopening plan after consulting with The Clorox Company and the Harvard University’s School of Public Health. AMC is also planning on a phased reopening that has four stages. (The circuit doesn't expect full capacity to be allowed until Thanksgiving.) 

Thursday's announcement by AMC follows similar releases issued this week by Cinemark Theaters and Regal Cinemas, the country's two other largest chains. Virtually all in-door movie theaters have been closed since mid-March, bringing the box office to a standstill.

"After a painful almost four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus, we are delighted to announce that movies are coming back to the big screen at AMC. Our next 100 years of making smiles happen officially begin at approximately 450 theaters across the United States on July 15," Aron said in a statement. "I cannot emphasize enough how much care and attention to detail we have taken in developing AMC Safe & Clean, our absolute commitment to optimizing the health and safety of our theaters for our guests and associates."

Theater chains such as AMC will institute a number of new regiments upon reopening, including new health protocols for employees, encouraging guests to wear masks, sanitizing between showings and rearranging concession sales.

AMC said the resumption of operations could be impacted if Mulan (July 14) or Tenet (July 31) are further delayed by Disney and Warner Bros., respectively. Elsewhere, Solstice Studios opens the road rage thriller Unhinged on July 10, while Sony debuts romantic-comedy The Broken Hearts Gallery on July 17.

Listed below are the additional measures AMC is implementing:

Every auditorium will be cleaned between each showtime with enhanced hard surface disinfection including doors, handrails, recliner buttons, and tray tables. There will be extra time allocated between showtimes to allow a full, thorough cleaning of each auditorium.

Disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer will be found throughout theaters for guest use as well.

The products used for sanitation and disinfection at AMC are EPA approved for use against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens including COVID-19.

All theatre associates are required to wear masks while in the theater. All theatre associates will take their temperature and undergo a health assessment screening prior to their shift. If any theater 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.

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. Guests at other locations are strongly encouraged to wear a mask during their visit to AMC. For guests who would like to purchase a mask upon arrival, they will be available for $1 at all locations.

Contactless Ticketing. AMC strongly recommends that guests use AMC’s world-class online ticketing and mobile app for ticketless entry. Not only does this save time at the box office, but it minimizes the amount of interactions for a guest.

Menu selections have been temporarily reduced at all AMC locations to ensure a more efficient service, minimizing the amount of time it takes to prepare and serve, and reducing wait times.