AMC and Cinemark Drop Sharply as Virus-Related Crowd Restrictions Are Put in Place

Cinema stocks tumbled as government agencies put in place crowd restrictions in an attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus.
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Cinema stocks were tumbling Monday as government agencies put in place crowd restrictions in an attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that all businesses limit any group to no more than 50 people.

AMC Entertainment Holdings  (AMC) - Get Report plans what it calls a 50/50 Policy, effective immediately and continuing until April 30. 

In addition to a recently announced plan to cap ticket availability at 50% of normal seating capacity, AMC said it would now further limit attendance for every showtime in all its open U.S. theaters to a maximum of 50 people.

Shares of the Leawood, Kan., chain, which says it is the largest theatrical exhibition company in the country, at last check were off 18% to $2.64. 

AMC currently operates more than 1,000 theaters across the country, 

Shares of Cinemark Holdings  (CNK) - Get Report, Plano, Texas, dropped 32% to $10. They earlier traded as low as $8.25, down 44%.

U.K.-based Cineworld Group shares traded in London on Monday were off 15% at 37.5 pence (US$0.46) due to concern about the coronavirus. Bloomberg reported that the company also had been criticized by an activist investor over its plan to buy Toronto-based cinema chain Cineplex Inc.

Cineworld operates such brands as Regal, United Artists, Edwards Theatres and Cineworld.

Some local governments are taking stringent steps to fight the spread of the disease.

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut came together and announced a series of steps designed to slow the spread of the deadly disease, including closing all cinemas effective at 8 p.m. U.S. Eastern Monday. Maryland and Louisiana announced similar measures. 

Meanwhile, ticket sales at North American movie theaters fell to their lowest levels in at least 20 years as the coronavirus pandemic led to one of Hollywood’s worst weekends at the box office, Comscore reports.