Movie theater chains across the United States have been announcing their plans on how each of them will handle reopening following mass closures due to the coronavirus. What is clear, however, is that each chain is simply guessing at will work.
Throughout this week, movie theater chains have been announcing new policies and plans to care for their customers once they begin to return to the theaters. All of them agree on increased spending, moving ticket sales online as much as possible, and frowning on the use of cash, where there seems to be a lot of divergences is in the use of masks.
AMC announced on Friday that it would not require masks of its patrons unless local authorities mandated it. Throughout the day, however, the company changed course and said it would require them nationally when it reopens. Regal Theaters have now joined them as well, and more of the companies seem to be moving that direction.
However, as movie critics have pointed out, how will that be enforced once the house lights are dimmed for the show? That remains to be seen.
As to the other policies, there the companies seem a bit more united and it means a lot more cleaning by staff. Cinemark has even released some video footage of what you can expect once you return to the theaters.
It is clear that attending the movies is going to be a very different experience than it was before the rise of COVID-19.
The question remains if there will be enough volume to sustain everyone. As it stands right now, AMC Theaters is saying that it hopes to be back to 50% capacity by Thanksgiving. With it being the largest theater chain in the country, that will mean a lot of films struggling to make money as they will also fave less showings due to the need for more cleaning.
While movie theaters are eager to reopen, it’s clear that it is going to be a long and strange road to get back to the levels we were at prior to the coronavirus.