AMC Theatres has reversed a previous policy decision and will now require customer to wear masks in their cinemas upon reopening. (We may have some suggestions for that.)
In plans revealed on Thursday, AMC announced it would open 450 of its US locations on July 15th, with the remaining 150 following on July 24th. While there were a number of precautions addressed to help reduce the spread of coronavirus — reducing capacities to 30%, increasing sanitation procedures, and limiting concessions — masks were only made a requirement for “theatre associates.”
Speaking with Variety about the reopening rollout, AMC CEO Adam Aron said the company felt “it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is no necessary.” He added that he expected “the vast majority” of moviegoers to wear masks, but didn’t want to make it obligatory so as not “to be drawn into a political controversy.”
As could have been expected, such remarks drew AMC into political controversy. In a statement released Friday, the company said it experienced “an intense and immediate outcry from our customers” following its initial announcement. Admitting that they “did not go far enough on the usage of masks,” the newly detailed policy “will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theatres.” In a remarkably bald-faced example of lacking self-awareness, the statement continued, “The speed with which AMC moved to revise our mask policies is a reflection of our commitment to the safety and health of our guests.”
AMC said it will monitor the latest scientific guidance regarding using masks and will consider “the varying health conditions in specific localities around our theatres” as they alter their policies going forward. For now, though, they’ll be selling masks at box offices for $1. “Those who are unwilling to wear a mask will not be admitted or allowed to stay,” the statement concluded.
As of now, the reopening guidelines for AMC’s major competitors, Cinemark and Regal Cinemas, still don’t require face masks for patrons (something AMC made sure to highlight in its new announcement). Alamo Drafthouse, meanwhile, said it will be revealing its own reopening plans next week. However, in a post on social media, the company made it clear anyone in their theaters will be required to wear masks — and they’ll give one to anyone who needs it. “When we open, the safety of our teammates and guests cannot be compromised,” the post read. “This is not political.” Got ’em.
Read AMC Theatre’s full statement ahead (via The Hollywood Reporter).
“At AMC, we have been consulting with top scientists and health experts to create a broad, sweeping, far-reaching health and safety effort to make AMC Theatres safe for our guests and associates when our theatres reopen in July. Among many elements of that comprehensive plan was a requirement for our associates all to wear masks nationwide, as well as a requirement for our guests all to wear masks in the many parts of the country that will require it. In those areas of the country where masks will not be required, we nonetheless planned to strongly encourage mask usage by guests, and fully expected that the vast majority would do so. That policy on guest mask usage, which is directly comparable with our major competitors and many other highly regarded retailers, was announced yesterday afternoon.
This announcement prompted an intense and immediate outcry from our customers, and it is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks. At AMC Theatres, we think it is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests. Accordingly, and with the full support of our scientific advisors, we are reversing course and are changing our guest mask policy. As we reopen theatres, we now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theatres. The speed with which AMC moved to revise our mask policies is a reflection of our commitment to the safety and health of our guests.
We will constantly monitor the scientific community’s latest thinking as to the efficacy of mask usage. We also will be looking at the varying health conditions in specific localities around our theatres all across the country. This will help us to determine what our mask policy will be as we go forward, as well as to make any other needed changes to this policy.
Guests coming to our theatres may bring their own masks of course, but for those who do not have one, masks will be available at our theatre box offices at a nominal $1.00 price. Those who are unwilling to wear a mask will not be admitted or allowed to stay.
We also want to take this opportunity to express our great appreciation to our many guests who took the time to communicate their views. We will continue to listen and continue to monitor the changing nature of the coronavirus, adapting and adjusting our policies accordingly.”
More to come. Let's talk next week. pic.twitter.com/Kkfz1ZhV3f
— Alamo Drafthouse (@alamodrafthouse) June 19, 2020