AMC Theatres Limiting Capacity

As concerns over the coronavirus (aka COVID-19) continue to spread, movie theaters are taking note. Last week, AMC Theatres announced they were limiting capacity by 50%. But now AMC is taking things even further. Instead of 50%, they’re capping occupancy to 50 people max. This news comes on the heels of reports that AMC might be facing a liquidity crunch so bad that they might be forced to sell off assets.

Sooner or later, we’ll have some good news for you here at /Film. But as of now, anxiety is the name of the game. Establishments across the country are shutting down due to fears of the coronavirus, and while this decision is 100% understandable and necessary, it’s also bound to create lots of problems. One of the hardest-hit industries will likely be movie theaters, as people avoid crowded locations en masse. In some places – like New York and Los Angeles – movie theaters are being shuttered completely. But in states when theaters stay open there’s still a caveat. AMC, for instance, has decided to cap attendance at 50 people.

The theater chain announced a “50-50” policy through April 30 that limits attendance at every AMC movie screening to a maximum of 50 guests. Last week, AMC joined other chains like Regal Cinemas and Cineplex in limiting their capacity by 50%, but now they’ve decided to go even further. Regarding the move, AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron said:

“The health of our guests and employee teams comes first for AMC. Therefore, effective immediately, at all our U.S. theaters that are open, we will limit ticket sales per showtime in each of our theatre auditoriums to a maximum of 50 percent of normal seating capacity and a maximum of 50 people, whichever is less.”

This was no doubt a tough decision for AMC. Earlier today, Deadline reported that AMC Entertainment was on the path to “a negative $285 million of free cash flow” that “could lead to some liquidity issues.” This could only get worse the longer theaters remain closed and continue limiting attendance. Again: All of this is necessary, and it’s good that AMC is doing the right thing. But the far-reaching complications from our current situation are likely to be felt for some time.

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