AMC Theatres Won't Reopen Until There Is New Studio Product

AMC Empire in New York City 4 —Publicity - H  2020
Courtesy of Peter McClintock

A number of states led by Republican governors are giving businesses the OK to flip on the lights as early as next week, including cinemas.

AMC Theatres on Friday said it won't reopen its 630-plus U.S. locations until there is new Hollywood product about to roll out. The first summer studio film currently on the books is Christopher Nolan's Tenet on July 17, followed by Mulan a week later on July 24.

The company's comment comes several days after the National Association of Theatre Owners, speaking on behalf of AMC and other circuits, cautioned that cinemas won't be flipping on the lights right away even if some states are rushing to lift shelter-in-place orders instituted due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"As we plan our reopening, the health and safety of our guests and associates is our absolute highest priority. To be able to open, we also need a line of sight into a regular schedule of new theatrical blockbusters that get people truly excited about returning to their favorite movie theaters. Those blockbusters are scheduled to return this summer, beginning with Warner Bros.’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan, with many more major titles scheduled immediately thereafter," AMC said in Friday's statement.

"While we expect to open our theaters in the weeks ahead of these new blockbusters, utilizing creative programming of immensely popular previously released films, we would be wise to do so only directly in advance of the release of major new movie titles," the statement continued. "AMC is currently working through every detail required to successfully showcase these exciting new releases in an environment that’s safe and welcoming for moviegoers, and we will share those details as we get closer to the dates when our theaters will reopen."

Cinemark Theaters CEO Mark Zoradi has likewise indicated his circuit, the third-largest in the country behind AMC and Regal Cinemas, won't open until summer out of abundant caution.

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.

More than 150,000 cinema workers have been laid off or furloughed, while all of AMC's corporate staff — including CEO Adam Aron — have been furloughed on a staggered basis.

AMC has been particularly hard hit because of its debt load heading into the pandemic. Earlier this month, the company announced a $500 million debt offering in a move designed to avert having to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On Monday, Wall Street analyst Eric Wold of B. Riley FBR upgraded his rating on the company's stock from "sell" to "neutral," saying he was "increasingly confident the company can avoid bankruptcy during the shutdown."

April 24, 5:21 p.m. A previous version incorrectly estimated how many theaters AMC has nationwide. THR regrets the error.