AMC has made official their U.S. reopening plans after what will be a four-month shutdown due to COVID-19 with 450 U.S. locations on July 15, roughly 150 remaining locations in time for Disney’s Mulan on July 24 and Warner Bros. Tenet on July 31.
AMC will have opened their locations over four internal phases. In phase 1 with 30% seating capacity. At all theatres nationwide in non-recliner auditoriums, AMC will automatically block out every other row of seats for every showtime. Phase 2 raises auditorium capacities to 40%, and by Labor Day the chain is looking at 50% auditorium capacity. By Thanksgiving, the plan is for AMC to get to 100% in time for Disney’s Soul and MGM’s No Time to Die.
If Mulan jumps to August, does AMC reopening plan remain the same? “We’re committed” says Aron to what you just read above. Meaning, the biggest circuit in the world’s reopening plans won’t change (that is unless both Mulan and Tenet jumps). Warner Bros. move of Tenet to July 31, made Mulan the first big event feature of the summer. We’re waiting to see if Disney moves Mulan or not. China and overseas markets are a big factor in whether Mulan stays on July 24, also the studio’s access to premium screens. We understand that with Tenet on July 31, Disney couldn’t get Imax screens until the end of August given Warner’s terms with the large format exhibitor.
“More than 90% of the attendance of the AMC circuit from the entire United States” are from that first weekend’s swath of openings says Aron who specified that the locations will be in “between 35 and 45 states”.
While those locations weren’t named in today’s release or specified by Aron, we hear from distribution execs that AMC is potentially poised to hit every DMA on July 15, including Los Angeles if it’s open. It’s just that not every single AMC may be open in a specific DMA is what sources told us.
In regards to when AMC LA locations opens, Aron says, “that is up to the Governor and the Mayor, it’s not up to Adam Aron at AMC. We hope that they open early-to-mid-July, but that’s their call.”
“Not only do I not know what the final judication is on New York City, I don’t think the Mayor of New York City knows yet. New York State will open. We’d love for it to be open by July 15 so we can open theaters in all the boroughs, but there are two other dates in July we’re watching. The decision is going to get made on health conditions as they reveal themselves in the next month,” said Aron about when NYC would reopen.
Now AMC, of course, in addition to ensuring social distancing in their reopening, raised the protocols on their cleaning procedures. Of note, similar to Cinemark, AMC won’t be taking guests’ temperatures as they walk through the door, a policy which some retailers across the U.S. have been following and some indie theaters.
“Temperature checks weren’t going to be done widely across American industry. Our consultants from the Harvard School of Public advised that there are things that we can do that would be much more impactful, and a much big determinant of guest safety than taking guest temperatures. In addition to our seat protocols and social distancing and our much intensified cleaning protocols, we’re really investing in high tech solutions. We’ve invested millions of dollars in electro-static sprayers which shoots electrically charged cleaning fluid on the seats, so it really binds to the seat material and kills viruses and bacteria with incredible reliability,” Aron tells Deadline.
As many financial analysts have predicted bankruptcy for AMC during its COVID-19 shutdown, the prediction has been that the theater will shed a number of its bad leases and non-performing theaters. Aron sticks to what he told investors recently on the circuit’s earnings call and that 2-4% of AMC locations won’t be coming back. “Even those theaters before the pandemic, had very little visitation, very little attendance. The AMC that you knew before the pandemic, that’s the AMC you’re going to see reopen starting on July 15,” Aron tells Deadline. One of the theaters that closed during this time was the AMC Star Southfield in Detroit, MI however, we hear that was weeks ago. A new state-of-the-art AMC location, 20 minutes north of Los Angeles in Porter Ranch, CA, is awaiting reopening.
There was boiler plate language in the recent earnings filing by AMC that read “Substantial doubt exists about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time,” but bringing this into context, it was just a warning to investors given the volatile COVID-19 situation that exists right now.
“We’ve already said publicly that we have enough cash to last with every single theater worldwide shut through the end of November. When you don’t have enough cash for your business for 12 full months, auditors and lawyers have correctly insisted that we alert investors to those risks. But, of course, we’re already opening our theaters in Europe, and we’re announcing today that our theaters will open in massive numbers in July. I said on that earnings call that in my heart of hearts, I expected AMC to make it through this crisis.”
Below is a breakdown and a sampling of details on AMC’s new Safe & Clean policy:
–Every auditorium will be cleaned between each showtime with enhanced hard surface disinfection including doors, handrails, recliner buttons, and tray tables. There will be extra time allocated between showtimes to allow a full, thorough cleaning of each auditorium.
–Auditorium fixtures and seating areas will be disinfected nightly using electrostatic sprayers.
–All high-touch areas including door handles, stanchions, service counters, handrails, escalator rails, benches, and restroom fixtures will be routinely disinfected. Self-service Freestyle machines will be sanitized routinely, and sanitation stations with sanitizing wipes and/or hand sanitizer will be provided immediately nearby for guest use.
–Disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer will be found throughout theatres for guests.
–Products used for sanitation and disinfection at AMC are EPA approved for use against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens including COVID-19.
–Employees will be required to wear masks and have their temperatures checked prior to their shift. If they’re found sick, they’ll be compensated.
–FDA approved hand-sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the theatre for associate and guest use.
–AMC will abide by local ordinances enforcing the wearing of masks. Guests at other locations are strongly encouraged to wear a mask during their visit to AMC. For guests who would like to purchase a mask upon arrival, they will be available for $1 at all locations.
–The circuit is recommending that guests use AMC’s online ticketing and mobile app for ticketless entry. For guests who would like to purchase their tickets at the theatre, AMC has Automated Box Office machines.