AMC Clarifies Social Distancing Protocols

AMC Social Distancing Protocols

There’s a viral tweet making the rounds that made it look as if AMC was throwing caution to the wind and not enforcing social distancing between assigned theater seats as they plan to reopen this Thursday. However, according to AMC, that’s not the case. According to the theater chain, starting Monday, the ticketing engine will automatically block out one seat on either side of the purchased seat, and the technology just wasn’t in place yet to represent that via current online seating charts.

We reached out to AMC directly about this issue and were informed that there was a slight disconnect between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of AMC theater reopenings. For instance, here’s the info for Phase 1:

Phase 1 (for all showtimes that were put on sale beginning last Thursday for this weekend)

Phase 1 commences on Aug. 20, when AMC will make available a maximum of 30% of the seating capacity in every showtime, at all its theatres nationwide.

In non-recliner auditoriums, AMC will automatically block out every other row of seats for every showtime.

Because a maximum of 30 percent of tickets are available for every show, in reserved-seating auditoriums there is ample room for guests to maintain proper social distancing throughout each auditorium. We recognize that this may mean there are rare circumstances where guests do not end up in the seat they selected, and we sincerely apologize for that inconvenience. However, appropriate social distancing will be available and must take place in every showtime.

Phase 2, meanwhile, starts today:

Phase 2 (rolling out to our initial opening theatres beginning TODAY)

AMC will move into Phase 2, when capacity limitations will rise to 40%, once we are able to implement automatic seat blocking. As part of phase two:

At recliner auditoriums, AMC’s ticketing engine will automatically block out one seat on either side of every party.

At non-recliner, reserved seating auditoriums, AMC’s ticketing engine will automatically block out one seat on either side of every party and the seats in the rows in front of and behind each party, as well as the diagonal seats in front of and behind each party.

In non-reserved seating auditoriums, AMC will block out every other row of seats for every showtime.

The reason seating charts were not displaying skipped seats, according to AMC, was that the company “needed a live ticket sales environment to test the technology.” The initial plan was for a two week test period, but after a successful launch, AMC decided “the results are satisfactory to roll out the technology to all reserved-seating theatres nationwide. As a result, the seat blocking technology is being rolled out beginning today for new showtimes at reserved-seating auditoriums. The rollout to the first wave of theatres should be complete by early this week.”

AMC adds that “If tickets have already been sold to a show, that show will remain at 30% of the total capacity, leaving ample space for guests to move a socially-distanced seat.” They’ve also provided us with an example of what a reserved seating, non-recliner auditorium will look like with automatic seat blocking in place. Recliner auditoriums will have one seat automatically blocked on either side of a party.

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