Two of the country’s largest cinema chains, AMC and Regal, announced this week that they plan to begin reopening theaters in two weeks. Regal spokespeople said their theaters will be open on Aug. 21, while AMC will do a phased reopening of their theaters starting in mid-to-late August.
Movie theaters across the country have been largely closed since early in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, with some launching streaming services as a way to make up for lost revenue.
The release of Christopher Nolan’s likely blockbuster thriller Tenet has been delayed several times, and is now slated to open overseas on Sept. 4, with select engagements in the United States on Sept. 3, Labor Day Weekend.
Here’s what you need to know:
Regal Cinemas Announced It Would Begin Reopening Theaters on Aug. 21 & Detailed New Safety & Cleaning Guidelines in a Video
Patrons and employees will be required to wear masks at all times — except when seated and eating in the auditorium. Regal will implement floor markers for proper social distancing in lines and install sanitation stations all over their theaters. The theater chain will also allow for ordering concessions via mobile app for a “truly contactless experience.”
Regal said that auditoriums will be seated at 50% capacity wherever a state or local law requires it; groups will have two seats of space between them.
“Welcoming theatergoers back to our cinemas will be a celebration for not only our team and our industry but, most importantly, for the fans who have been anxiously awaiting the year’s upcoming releases,” Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Regal’s parent company, Cineworld, told Syracuse.com.
Regal also said it would screen all employees daily for coronavirus and clean and sanitize each auditorium between shows. There will also be no refills on popcorn and soda for the time being.
AMC Has Not Set a Specific Reopening Day, But Said it Would Do So in a ‘Phased’ Way Beginning in Mid-to-Late August
AMC had initially planned to begin a phased reopening of their theaters in mid-July, before pushing that date back to July 30, CNN reported. Now, the company does not have a specific date for reopening on its website, but spokespeople told CNN they expect to begin the process in “mid-to-late August.”
Reuters reported that the company expects two-thirds of its theaters in the United States to be open by late-August.
AMC’s website details some of the safety precautions and rules that will be in place when they open later this month. The chain will have auditoriums filled to 30% or lower capacity, with every other row blocked off. The theaters will also allow people to change their seats if they’re uncomfortable, or get a refund.
Concessions will also be limited, and straws and napkins will only be available upon request. There will be no cash accepted at concessions and cash will be discouraged at the box office, AMC said. The theaters will also offer disposable protective masks at the box office for $1.
Sure-To-Be Blockbusters Like Tenet, No Time to Die & Disney’s Mulan Have Undergone Shifting Release Dates & Methods; Here’s Where They Stand
The release date for Christopher Nolan’s new thriller Tenet has been a moving target, with the initial plan calling for a July 17 global release, according to IndieWire. It was then moved to July 31, then August 12, until Warner Brothers announced this week it would roll the likely blockbuster out into theaters globally starting Aug. 26, the outlet reported.
Tenet will open in select U.S. cities on Sept. 3, Variety reported.
The new James Bond film, No Time to Die, had a planned release date in April, which was quickly scrapped with the onset of coronavirus, Gamespot reported. The official James Bond Twitter account announced on June 13 that it will be released in the United States on Nov. 20, and in the United Kingdom on Nov. 12.
Bond movies have generally been released in November at least dating back to 1995’s GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan’s first turn at the role.
Disney’s live-action remake of its 1998 animated film Mulan will likely see the most dramatically different style of release, when it comes to pandemic-era blockbusters.
Rather than a traditional theatrical premiere, Mulan will debut Sept. 4 on Disney’s relatively new streaming service. The catch, however, is that even paid subscribers will have to pay $30 on top of their monthly Disney+ subscription fee, CNN reported.
“We thought it was important to find alternative ways to bring this exceptional family-friendly film to them in a timely manner,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said on an earnings call, according to the outlet.
The film will also be available in theaters, wherever they are open, he added.
Bob Chapek, Disney’s CEO, said the pandemic has forced the company to think of “different approaches” to better serve consumers.
“We thought it was important to find alternative ways to bring this exceptional family friendly film to them in a timely manner,” he said on the company’s third quarter earnings call.
Chapek added that “Mulan” will be released simultaneously in theaters in markets where Disney+ is not available and, of course, where theaters are open.
French theater owner Gerard Lemoine posted a video to Twitter of himself destroying a Mulan stand-up in his lobby in reaction to Disney’s release decision, Screen Rant reported.
And no matter when chains like Regal and AMC start their reopening process, whether theatergoers can actually take advantage of it will still be up to city and local officials. In New York State, for example, theaters remain closed, despite the state being weeks into Stage 4 of its reopening, the New York Times reported.