AMC to Open Two-Thirds of Its U.S. Theaters by September 3

AMC Theatres introduced a plan to open about 100 locations as early as August 20 and two-thirds of its 600 theaters by September 3. An earlier plan to open was abandoned after strong backlash. Now, customers and employees will be required to wear masks, seating in auditoriums will be limited and the company will implement social distancing and increased cleaning. Furthermore, AMC stated that masks, which would be sold at the theater for one dollar, must “cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly around your face and chin.”

Engadget reports AMC added that, “neck gaiters, open-chin bandanas and masks with vents or exhalation valves are not acceptable at this time.” The movie chain said, “the rest of its locations will reopen when local governments allow it.”

AMC cinemas in Europe and the Middle East will open by August 26. Reopened theaters will feature “classic and older movies” including “Back to the Future” and “Black Panther,” with “more new movies … released through September and the fall,” including director Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” and the latest X-Men franchise. To lure viewers, AMC “promised perks for customers like $5 food and beverage specials.”

Variety reports that AMC is also running a novel promotion: “for one day only, tickets at the theaters will sell for 15 cents, roughly the equivalent of what it cost to watch a movie in 1920.” That’s the year that AMC founders, the Dubinsky Brothers, opened a single movie screen in Kansas City, Missouri. For that day, AMC will screen legacy titles, however, not new blockbusters.

Among the markets where theaters will open include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, and St. Louis. Public officials in New York, Los Angeles and other major markets have not yet “approved reopening cinemas due to public health concerns.” Among the other legacy films to be screened — for $5 per ticket — are a 10th anniversary edition of “Inception,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Grease.” Before “Tenet” opens, a new movie from Russell Crowe, “Unhinged” and “The New Mutants” will open, priced at about $10 per ticket.

Subscribers to its AMC Stubs A-List program — which lets users see up to three movies a month for $20 to $25 — will give members $10 in credit to use by the end of October; the company has pledged “not to increase prices on the subscription service through June 2021.”

CNBC reports that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, “attending a movie theater and being in a crowd is considered a high-risk activity, meaning the situation increases your risk of exposure to COVID-19.” AMC’s new rules state that a viewer can remove his or her mask in the theater to eat or drink, “which could be problematic because it even for a short time allows people to spread respiratory droplets in the theater.”

The virus can be transmitted “by touching an infected object, and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.” Theaters will only be filled at 30 percent capacity, and HVAC systems have been upgraded with MERV 13 filters “wherever possible.”