Update 3:45pm ET: Regal Cinemas has announced it will also be reducing capacity by 50%.
Earlier: AMC Theatres is now the first major movie theater chain in the United States to step up to announce a new policy related to the coronavirus outbreak. As announced on Friday, the chain will reduce capacity in their auditoriums by at least 50% as of this Saturday, March 14, and continuing through April 30 of this year (per Deadline). The new process means that ticket sales will be capped for each showtime; in auditoriums with more than 500 seats, AMC will only allow a maximum of 250 audience members either way. The move comes in compliance with federal, state, and government directives on large gatherings — as “social distancing” becomes the norm amid the outbreak.
AMC also said the company is stepping up to improve safety and health experiences for guests, with cleaning teams dispatched at least once every hour to attend to frequently touched areas such as kiosks, concession stands, restrooms, handrails, and doorknobs. The company also said that theater staff will clean every auditorium between each screening.
“The health and safety of our guests and theatre teams are of the utmost importance to AMC,” Adam Aron, AMC Theatres CEO and president, said. “Therefore, AMC is proactively taking action to cut in half the number of tickets that we will make available at all our U.S. theatres. With this action, we are facilitating the ‘social distance’ between guests who still want to see movies on a big screen.”
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Aron continued, “These are uncharted times in the United States. We are very closely monitoring the guidance of the CDC. We are complying with all directives from federal, state and local health and government authorities, and with our unilateral move to reduce capacity and increase social distancing we are going beyond what governments are requiring of us.”
The news follows a wave of cancellations and postponements that have rocked every industry. As studios shift release dates for major titles, from Disney’s “Mulan” to Paramount Pictures’ “A Quiet Place II,” there is increasingly less product for audiences to flock to in theaters anyway. Reducing movie-theater availability seemed like the logical next step, especially after the postponement of NBA and NHL games, as well as all productions on Broadway in New York.
Here all the films, events, and festivals affected by the virus so far.