LA County Movie Theaters Will Reopen Monday

AMC locations in Burbank and Century City are reportedly ready to open Monday at 25 percent capacity.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michael Buckner/Variety/Shutterstock (10677366v).Cinerama Dome at Arclight Theatres.Music Venues, Los Angeles, California, USA - 11 Jun 2020
The Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.
Michael Buckner for PMC

Update, March 12: It’s official: Movie theaters in Los Angeles County will be allowed to open on Monday, after state leaders on Friday moved the county into the less restrictive red tier.

Some theaters are already ready to go. Deadline reported that AMC will be reopening two of its largest LA locations, the Burbank 16 and Century City 15, on Monday.

AMC CEO Adam Aron in an appearance on Fox Business Network pledged that the chain will open all of its LA theaters by March 19 “no matter what.”

Other theaters aren’t quite ready. Deadline reported that the TCL Chinese Theatre Imax will reopen on March 26 and Alamo Drafthouse will open its doors some time after next week. It reported that Regal, Arclight, and Laemmle are readying to reopen in the weeks ahead.

Earlier, March 11: Los Angeles County officials expect movie theaters will be allowed to reopen next week, marking the first time in a year cinemas in the nation’s most populous county will open their doors.

However, it’s still not official. LA County is expected to soon move into the less restrictive red tier, based on vaccination rates and case numbers. Governor Gavin Newsom expects to make that call as soon as Friday. But it’s been an open question as to how the county will respond — while the red tier permits theaters and indoor dining to reopen, it’s up to county officials to decide if they’ll allow it.

The LA County Department of Public Health cleared the air on Thursday afternoon: When Newsom moves LA County into the red tier, it plans to allow movie theaters to operate at 25-percent capacity. Health officials expect that to happen sometime between March 15 and 17. But the exact timing is unclear.

It will be a significant milestone for an exhibition sector roiled by the pandemic. Following the reopening of New York City theaters last month, this means the country’s two largest theatrical markets will be back in business, which could begin to pave the way to a return to normalcy for theatrical releases.

The move will come thanks to revisions to the state’s color-coded tier system. It had previously been tied to metrics focused on case numbers, but now a new metric is in the mix — administering two-million vaccine does in underserved communities. That’s expected to happen within the coming days, possibly moving Los Angeles and other hard-hit Southern California communities into less restrictive tiers.

Case numbers and hospitalizations across the region have also been on a steady decline.

“Southern California, you will be a beneficiary of this — specifically LA will be a big beneficiary of this, that will likely be met on Friday and moving through the weekend into next week, you will see more activity and more loosening of the tiers,” Newsom said at a press conference Wednesday.

LA County has been in the most restrictive purple tier since it was enacted by the state in September.

The reopening of LA theaters will likely inspire confidence in distributors, who have been reluctant to release films in theaters for much of the pandemic. Aside from Warner Bros.’ end-of-summer “Tenet” experiment and their later day-and-date releases on HBO Max, much of the last year has been devoid of releases as distributors pushed dates further and further ahead.

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