AMC Sets Mid-July as Reopening for Movie Theaters

AMC Entertainment is set to reopen its more than 600 U.S. theaters by the middle of July, albeit with strict new coronavirus-mitigation protocols.

AMC Entertainment  (AMC) - Get Report - the world's largest movie-theater owner - is set to reopen its more than 600 U.S. theaters by the middle of July, albeit with strict new protocols including 30% theater capacity limits, between-showing disinfecting and having AMC employee wear face masks while in theaters.

The company announced it will begin a multi-phase reopening on July 15, with the goal of being close to fully operational by the July 24 premiere of Walt Disney's  (DIS) - Get Report "Mulan." 

As part of that effort, it has implemented safety and health measures to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

"After a painful almost four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus, we are delighted to announce that movies are coming back to the big screen at AMC," CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

Among the additional efforts AMC is taking to ensure the safety and comfort of patrons include deploying electrostatic disinfecting sprayers, temporarily reducing menu selections at its concession stands and upgrading ventilation systems.

The company said that in any area of the country where masks are mandatory AMC will "abide by that ordinance and guests will be required to wear masks." In areas of the country where masks are not compulsory, AMC said it will "strongly" encourage guests to wear them.

It also said it will implement "seat blocking" by blocking out seating next to, in front of or behind moviegoers depending on what type of theater they attend.

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown has hit movie-theater operators like AMC particularly hard, not only due to sudden and massive losses in revenue but also due to the runoff effect of more people streaming content directly to their homes and devices, which in turn has raised questions over the viability of the entire theater industry.

Indeed, AMC and other theater chains have found themselves in an even darker corner financially in recent months as they fight for their decades-old first-rights position to show content first.

Earlier this month, AMC reported a net loss of $2.17 billion in its first quarter, and said revenue fell about 22% to $941.5 million, compared to $1.2 billion in the same quarter last year.

The company said that phase two of its reopening — which will begin when "AMC deems it to be acceptable given local and regional health conditions" — will expand to 40% per-theater capacity limit, rising to 50% by Labor Day and full capacity by Thanksgiving.

Shares of AMC were up 5.97% at $6.04 in trading on Friday.