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AMC Theatres Lays Out ‘Safe & Clean’ Plan for Reopening Cinemas (Video)

Theater chain needs to get this right, as floundering in its reopen could cause irreparable damage

AMC Theatres on Friday put out a video detailing some of the safety steps its cinemas are taking as they prepare to reopen next week.

Much has been made of the movie theaters’ reopening plans: From debates about masks in auditoriums to questions about concessions. AMC needs to get this right. The theater chain in its most recent second quarter — the three months ending on June 30 — reported a loss of $561 million, with almost no revenue coming in since theaters closed in mid-March. Floundering in its reopen could cause irreparable damage.

In the video, AMC detailed that guests can book tickets ahead of time for reserved seating in order to remain contactless. The Kansas-based theater operator also reiterated that masks will be required for all guests and employees, this after a gaffe in June when AMC and other theater chains said masks would not be required for moviegoers, only encouraged. In AMC’s video on Friday, however, the chain did say that for theatergoers enjoying concessions, masks wouldn’t be required.

AMC will have a simplified menu and said that its theaters have “thoroughly enhanced our cleaning procedures.” The chain will now use HEPA filter vacuums, MERV 13 air filters, and employees will disinfect auditoriums with electrostatic disinfectant sprayers before each showtime.

AMC, which has worked overtime to cut costs and renegotiate debt deals and lease contracts, is spending a sizable amount to enact its new cleaning practices.

“It’s appreciatively higher,” CEO Adam Aron told Wall Street analysts during the company’s second-quarter conference call. “We have electrostatic sprayers and all kinds of things — quadruple the cost — we can’t eat all these costs. We’re going to have to pass some of these costs on to the consumer.”

In addition to the enhanced cleaning procedures, AMC has said that seating in auditoriums will be physically distant, leaving room between seats and groups of people, with limited capacity. Theater operators, hurting from the lack of business have ensured investors that they can operate profitably at 50% capacity — that’s if the audience shows up.

There are concerns throughout Hollywood, and across other industries (particularly live events), about whether moviegoers would be willing to take the potential risk of heading back to the cinema to sit in a dark theater full of strangers. Experts have said the industry should expect a shift in consumer behaviors.

AMC said on Thursday that it will reopen 100 locations nationwide on Aug. 20 with all tickets priced at just 15 cents for one day only.

“We are thrilled to once again open our doors to American moviegoers who are looking for an opportunity to get out of their houses and apartments and escape into the magic of the movies,” Aron said in a statement. “As our guests return on our first day of resumed operations on August 20, we invite them to join us in celebrating a return to the movies, and in celebrating 100 years of AMC making smiles happen with movies at 1920 prices of only 15 cents each.”