AMC Theatres, the world’s largest exhibition chain, is pushing back its reopening by two weeks.
The move comes as coronavirus rates continue to rise in the United States, where AMC has the bulk of its operations, and after Hollywood blockbusters such as “Tenet” and “Mulan” delayed their release by several weeks. AMC said it now expects to open 450 of its more than 600 theaters on July 30. It hopes to be essentially fully operational by early August.
“Tenet,” a sci-fi thriller from Christopher Nolan, is slated to open on August 12. “Mulan,” a live-action remake of the animated hit, will debut on August 21. Other films scheduled to launch this summer include Russell Crowe’s thriller “Unhinged” on July 31 and Sony’s rom-com “The Broken Hearts Gallery” on Aug. 7.
AMC had initially planned on reopening on July 15. It’s possible those plans could be foiled yet again. Major markets such as New York City and Los Angeles have yet to allow cinemas to reopen and studios are hesitant about distributing movies in theaters without those cities, both of which account for a major percentage of box office revenues. Complicating matters is the fact that states such as Florida and Texas that have taken an accelerated approach to reopening their businesses have also suffered from surging rates of coronavirus infections.
AMC announced that it is implementing new safety and cleaning procedures earlier this month, which it said would help keep its theaters free of COVID-19. However, the company inspired fierce blowback when CEO Adam Aron said it would not force patrons to wear masks in states where it wasn’t legally required because it wanted to involve getting dragged into a political controversy. The theater chain later backtracked and said it would require ticket-buyers to wear masks.
“We continue to devote extraordinary resources into our plan to operate our theatres with a hyper commitment to the safety and health of our guests and associates,” Aron said in a statement.
AMC operates in 14 countries in Europe and the Middle East. It expects its approximately 1,000 global locations to be back in business by early August.