As movie theater chains scramble to recoup losses due to shutdowns caused by the pandemic nationwide, AMC Theatres has at least one new trick up its sleeve. Following in the footsteps of the Alamo Drafthouse, which unveiled a similar program earlier this year, the Private Movie Showing program at AMC now allows consumers to rent out an entire theater for the cool starting price of $99.
You can host a personal screening for one, or host a party for up to 20 people. While $99 is the base rate for older films — there’s a limited selection available — additional costs accrue if you want to have food, or use a microphone to emcee the event, and newer movies cost at least $149. The selection currently includes “Tenet,” “The War with Grandpa,” Honest Thief,” “The New Mutants,” and “Unhinged” on the newer side of things, plus classic movies like “Hocus Pocus,” “Jurassic Park,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “Shrek.”
The catering fee for bringing food is currently at a steep $250, and you’re not allowed to bring any food that requires heating. The program started rolling out on Friday in most states, though Alaska and Hawaii aren’t currently listed on the website.
Cinemark is also offering a similar plan, though with a more limited selection of older movies. This new kind of personalized screening experience arrives as theaters are getting desperate, with AMC warning it could run out of cash by early 2021. There’s also the lack of new product, with the majority of major studio movies either pushed to streaming (like Disney/Pixar’s “Soul”) or into next year entirely (Warner Bros.’ “Dune” and MGM/United Artists’ “No Time to Die”).
However, there was some good news yesterday for theater chains in New York State, as Governor Andrew Cuomo said theaters can reopen their doors beginning October 23. (Everywhere except New York City, that is.) As has been the usual for reopened theaters, assigned seating will be required in all theaters (which means even those not equipped for assigned seating). Social distancing will be required at all times. Additional staffing will also be required to control crowds, general traffic, and seating in order to ensure compliance. Theaters will also be required to meet air filtration, ventilation, and purification standards.