We've Got Hollywood Covered

AMC, Regal Cinemas to Reduce Theater Capacity by 50% Amid Coronavirus Scare

Ticket sales will be capped to comply with the new order

Regal Cinemas and AMC Theatres will be reducing theater capacity to 50% in the wake of the coronavirus scare, and are taking necessary precautions to keep employees and patrons safe.

“The health and safety of our customers and staff is very important to us. We are continuing to follow and monitor official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health organizations,” Regal Cinemas said in a statement. 

To keep everyone safe, the theater chain will be “educating our staff on prevention, emphasizing frequent and proper hand washing, cleaning high contact points more frequently, providing hand sanitizing soap in all restrooms, and working with local health authorities. Additionally, we have reduced auditorium capacity by 50% and are complying, where applicable, with state mandates on social gathering limits.”

Similarly, AMC Theatres is “taking aggressive, nationwide to provide additional space between guests within all its U.S. theatres, to keep its theatres clean and to discourage those with health concerns from coming to its theatres.”

“Beginning tomorrow Saturday, March 14 and continuing until April 30, 2020, AMC will cut in half the seating capacity of every one of its theatre’s auditoriums,” the statement read. “It will do so by capping ticket sales for each showtime in each of its theatre’s auditoriums to an amount equal to 50% of the normal seating capacity. In those auditoriums with more than 500 seats, AMC will further cap ticket sales to a maximum of 250 in any case. AMC is also actively complying with all local authorities’ directives on social gathering and is further reducing the availability of tickets to comply with any current or future federal, state or local governmental order.”

“The health and safety of our guests and theatre teams are of the utmost importance to AMC,” Adam Aron, CEO and President of AMC Theatres, said. “Therefore, AMC is proactively taking action to cut in half the number of tickets that we will make available at all our U.S. theatres. With this action, we are facilitating the ‘social distance’ between guests who still want to see movies on a big screen.”

On Thursday, Cinemark had released a statement noting precautions taken to ensure the safety or staffers and patrons, which includes disinfecting high-touch surface areas, deep cleaning of auditoriums and modifying the policy on refillable concessions. There was no mention of reduced theater capacity.

Many productions, festivals, conferences and events have shut down due to the coronavirus in an attempt to stop mass gatherings. Movie theater owners had kept relatively quiet on their stance until now, but were faced with increased pressure as more and more film releases were canceled or postponed.

Before the postponement of expected blockbusters like “Mulan,” analysts told TheWrap that the coronavirus was expected to cost the global box office around $5 billion. Now those estimates have grown to at least $8 billion and could reach $10 billion or more depending on how long the pandemic lasts.

Specialty/regional theaters like Marcus Theaters and Alamo Drafthouse have promised customers that their locations will undergo more frequent and deeper cleanings of auditoriums and that hand sanitizer will be readily available for employees and moviegoers. In the strongest precautionary step, Alamo Drafthouse’s San Francisco location has also restricted its largest auditoriums to the 250-person limit set by California Gov. Gavin Newsom for all public gatherings (even though he did say that theaters are generally exempt from that rule).