AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas Closing All 1,173 Theaters Due to Coronavirus Threat

Entrance to AMC Bay Street 16 theater is seen on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Emeryville, Calif. AMC Theatres, the world's largest movie theater chain, on Wednesday unveiled a $20-a-month subscription service to rival the flagging MoviePass. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot

AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas are taking the unprecedented step of closing down all of their theaters starting Tuesday in a precautionary effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The companies represent the largest and second largest theater chains in the country, respectively, with a combined 1,173 cinemas.

Their sweeping decisions will effectively bring the multi-billion-dollar U.S. exhibition industry to a stand still. AMC reportedly said it will shutter its cinemas for at least six to 12 weeks, while Regal announced via Twitter that its cinemas will remain closed “until further notice.”

The across-the-board shut down comes after federal health officials said Monday that Americans should avoid public gatherings of more than 10 people and refrain from any unnecessary social gatherings.  Other cinema chains to have announced closures include Alamo Drafthouse and Landmark Theatres.

Prior to announcing their closures, AMC and Regal instituted social distancing measures by capping ticket sales at 50 percent of capacity so that moviegoers would have more seating space between them.The measures contributed to the lowest weekend box office total in two decades, not adjusting for inflation.

Last year, the domestic box office brought in an estimated $11.4 billion.

Several Hollywood blockbusters have already been postponed due to the global coronavirus pandemic, including Disney’s live-action MulanNo Time to Die, the latest James Bond movie; F9, or Fast & Furious 9;  A Quiet Place 2; and Peter Rabbit 2.

AMC and Regal’s decision to shut their doors will almost certainly mean that Disney will postpone the release of the Marvel superhero movie Black Widow, which was set to open May 1, though no announcement has been made yet.
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