It's Official: Los Angeles Movie Theaters Can Reopen Next Week

The AMC Century City 15
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County officials gave their approval on Thursday.

Los Angeles movie theaters have been cleared to reopen next week, although capacity will limited at 25 percent.

The county's department of Public health said on Thursday that cinemas, along with certain other businesses, will be allowed  to once again welcome customers in the coming days.

It's unclear how many circuits will open right away outside of AMC Entertainment, the country's largest chain. Cinemark has two major multiplexes in L.A. that are likely to open quickly as well. Regal and parent company Cineworld remain closed across the U.S. and Europe. Among smaller venues, the ArcLight and Pacific Theatres don't have immediate plans to flip on the lights. It could also take the Landmark several weeks.

The announcement came several days after, under California Gov. Gavin Newsom's reopening plan, the county moved from the purple tier to the less-restrictive red tier after the number of COVID-19 cases eased, meaning that movie theaters can reopen by the March 19-21 weekend.

Los Angeles, along with New York City — where theaters reopened last weekend — are key to any box office recovery.

Once New York and Los Angeles theaters are back in  operation, film distributors will begin to feel comfortable releasing their big-budget tentpoles. However, studios will want to see capacity grow to 50 percent.

The larger Los Angeles market provided nearly 9 percent of all box office revenue in 2019, while the New York DMA turned in 7.4 percent.

At present, roughly 45 percent to 46 percent of the theaters in North America are operational, according to Comscore.