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Beginning today, AMC theaters announced they will be shutting their doors for the next six to 12 weeks to combat the spread of coronavirus. This includes all 634 locations in the U.S. and Canada and is effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
“We are ever so disappointed for our moviegoing guests and for our employee teams that the new CDC guidelines that Americans should not gather in groups larger than 10 people make it impossible to open our theatres,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “Still, the health and wellbeing of AMC guests and employees, and of all Americans, takes precedence above all else. We will continue to monitor this situation very closely and look forward to the day we can again delight moviegoers nationwide by reopening AMC movie theatres in accordance with guidance from the CDC and local health authorities.”
Before this big closure, AMC was limiting ticket sales to half capacity in an attempt to keep crowds numbers down, but now that the CDC has recommended limiting social gatherings to less than 10 people, theaters everywhere are closing down temporarily. On Monday, Regal Cinemas announced their closure until further notice and Cinemark said it would close all 165 of its locations until April 2. Smaller theaters like Landmark Theaters and Alamo Drafthouse have also shuttered their doors.
These limited ticket sales followed by complete closures have no doubt affected movie performance at the box office. The Harley Quinn film Birds of Prey didn’t do as well as expected in theaters and that could be due to the large gathering limitations put in place not long after its premiere. It has since moved up its VOD date and will be available to stream starting March 24.
With the majority of movie theaters closed, other movie studios have opted to bypass the box office completely and send their movies straight to streaming. NBCUniversal announced that movies that were lined up to show in theaters will now be made available on-demand at the same time that they hit theaters still left open during the coronavirus pandemic. Trolls World Tour will be the first movie to debut online and in theaters on April 10th, with other films being available on-demand as early as Friday. Universal’s The Hunt and The Invisible Man, and Focus Features’ Emma are among the additional titles.
While AMC hasn’t given a specific timeline for reopening, they said they would “remain flexible on reopening, in accordance with CDC recommendations and governmental directives.”