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AMC to Open 70% of Theaters for ‘Tenet’ Release, Including San Diego

Locations in California will operate at 25% capacity, per new state regulations

AMC Theaters announced on Tuesday that approximately 70% of its locations will be open this coming Labor Day weekend for the release of Warner Bros.’ “Tenet,” including seven California theaters in San Diego County.

In total, approximately 420 AMC locations will be open nationwide starting this Thursday, including 140 locations that are opening for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The San Diego locations are being opened in accordance with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recently announced reopening system, which allows counties to reopen certain businesses if they lower the rate of COVID-19 infection below certain thresholds.

San Diego County, which is currently in the second level of reopening, can reopen theaters with 25% of maximum capacity. Counties that reach the third level of reopening can raise that capacity limit to 50%. San Francisco County is also currently cleared for the second stage of reopening, though county health officials and theater chains have yet to disclose any details on when theaters may open there.

AMC’s announcement comes one day after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy gave the green light for the state’s 80 movie theaters to reopen this weekend with a 25% capacity limit. AMC says it will announce more reopenings in California and New Jersey in the coming days as they continue to monitor directives from state and local health officials.

The safety of movie theaters, even with best efforts to protect moviegoers, is still being debated. The National Association of Theater Owners has developed a series of safety protocols that have been adopted throughout the industry. AMC’s version of the protocols, called Safe & Clean, puts buffer seats in between moviegoer groups, requires masks to be worn at all times except while eating, deep cleaning of auditoriums between screenings, and overhaul of each theater’s air filtration system.

However, many epidemiologists still consider movie theaters to be a high-risk environment for contracting COVID-19, as it involves sitting in an enclosed space with strangers for an extended period of time. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has cited these concerns as the main reason why he has not reopened theaters in his state, though he says that discussions with health experts are still ongoing. AMC CEO Adam Aron, meanwhile, extolled the effectiveness of the Safe & Clean system in the 200+ AMC locations that have opened in the past two weeks.

“Guests returning to AMC can do so knowing that we’ve been in constant dialogue with top scientists and experts in public health and cleaning about how best to reopen our theatres in ways that will be responsible and welcoming,” he said.