In a sign that moviegoing could be coming back to life in New York, AMC Theatres announced that they will be reopening a dozen locations in New York state by October 23, 2020. The news comes after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that movie theater locations in New York, but outside of New York City, could reopen under strict safety guidelines.
The news caused AMC’s stock prices to surge by 22%, which is good news for the chain as they are on the brink of bankruptcy and speculating they could be out of cash by the end of the year. With the reopening of New York, AMC will be operational in 44 of the 45 states where it has theaters. The New York locations opening are in Long Island – which is part of the New York City DMA. AMC CEO Adam Aron had this to say about the reopenings in New York:
“The reopening of movie theatres around the country is essential to the theatrical industry and the entire entertainment ecosystem. It has become clear that movie studios are not willing to release blockbuster product until key major markets are open. Therefore, it is a monumental step in the right direction for our entire industry that theatres are starting to open across the state of New York. We thank Governor Cuomo and local leaders in our New York communities for allowing guests to return to AMC at several locations throughout the state. We continue to work closely with state and local authorities about the reopening of New York City, which we now hope with increasing confidence is not far away. We continue to see state and local governments all across the United States recognize the strong steps we have taken through AMC Safe & Clean to ensure that we are reopening responsibly and with a focus on the health and safety of our guests and associates are working exactly as intended.”
The reopening of movie theaters comes with precautions in place as audiences will be limited to 25 percent capacity, noted as up to 50 people per showing. Theaters will only open outside of New York City in counties that are below 2 percent COVID-19 positivity on a 14-day average and have no “cluster zones.” Safety precautions also include the wearing of masks at all times except when seated and eating and drinking and social distancing between parties. Assigned seating will be required in all theaters. Governor Andrew Cuomo had this to say about the reopenings:
“We hit 160,000 tests in one day, which is a record number and the highest we’ve ever done. When you’re doing that level of tests you get down to the block level. And then, when you start to see a cluster, you oversample in that cluster, so you get even more data. Beginning October 23, movie theaters outside of New York City will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity with up to 50 people maximum per screen. This is outside of New York City in areas that have infection rates below 2 percent on a 14-day average and have no cluster zones.”
AMC Theatres expects to have 530 of its 600 U.S. locations open by the end of the month and the chain also recently announced that they have recently started doing private theater rentals, which have done well for Cinemark and the Alamo Drafthouse in recent weeks. I’ll take any good news for the movie theater experience and this is a step in the right direction for exhibitors. Hopefully, New York City isn’t too far behind if these reopenings go well because that will be a true win for the industry as we head towards the end of 2020 and into 2021.