Just as soon as AMC Theatres announced the chain would begin a phased reopening of all its U.S. locations on July 15, backlash erupted over the fact that the company’s president said they wouldn’t require moviegoers to wear masks. At least, not in states where it isn’t required by law. However, the controversy led the theater chain to change course on Friday, as AMC will now require face masks in all of its locations as the phased reopening begins. If you forgot your mask, no problem — AMC will be selling them for a dollar.
“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” AMC President and CEO Adam Aron told Variety in an interview Thursday about the original plan. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask-wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.”
Undoubtedly in response on AMC’s initial plan to loosen up on mask-wearing requirements, the theater chain Alamo Drafthouse made a statement on Friday announcing they’d be requiring guests to wear masks in all states. “When we open, the safety of our teammates and guests cannot be compromised. This is not political. We will require that guests wear masks at the theater (except when eating/drinking). Those without masks will be given one,” the Alamo Drafthouse statement said.
Regal Cinemas also followed AMC’s lead on Friday, announcing that attendees would be required to wear masks once locations begin to reopen July 10.
On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered mandatory mask-wearing statewide in most public places.
California theaters were poised to begin reopening this month after getting the go-ahead from the state, but Los Angeles county health officials on Friday decreed that LA theaters could not reopen after all.
This was to begin with the Arena Cinelounge in Hollywood, planning to reopen June 19, but the independent movie house has begun issuing refunds for its opening weekend programming, which included the theatrical release of IFC Films’ “Babyteeth.”
AMC Theatres will open 450 of its U.S. locations on July 15, and the remaining 150 theaters on July 24.
More to come. Let’s talk next week. pic.twitter.com/Kkfz1ZhV3f
— #AlamoAtHome (@alamodrafthouse) June 19, 2020
And masks, you should require masks. Has nothing to do with politics, but rather, public health. https://t.co/Pd9pQYbOcA
— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) June 19, 2020
oh hell yeah my AMC’s got them seats that recline! pic.twitter.com/xBTBWVZjsU
— Mike Scollins (@mikescollins) June 19, 2020
AMC tryna go out like Blockbuster pic.twitter.com/YFf8v2qF6o
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) June 19, 2020
Hey AMC, Cinemark, Regal,
Good work avoiding controversy. Your movies are in our living room. https://t.co/sYwzRW6Gt5
— Andy Slavitt @ 🏡 (@ASlavitt) June 19, 2020
PANDEMIC IS NOT POLITICAL. As an epidemiologist, what @AMCTheatres is doing is incredibly dangerous. Public health scientists fight like mad to save lives, all so @CEOAdam can squander it all. Also, you make $9.6 mil/year, but your AMC frontline workers facing the epidemic don’t. https://t.co/Gsz0HrUh6b
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) June 19, 2020
AMC Theatres is not requiring masks at all of its locations. Its CEO told me that the company wants “to keep the politics out of our theaters.”
“What we’re doing is we’re encouraging people to wear a mask, but not necessarily requiring it.” https://t.co/sQgSdggduU
— Frank Pallotta (@frankpallotta) June 19, 2020
Should we boycott reviewing TENET? (lol no one ever will)
— Katie Walsh (@katiewalshstx) June 19, 2020