Cinema chain AMC Entertainment (AMC 0.93%) announced last week that it will delay reopening of its theaters until mid to late August. Now it seems that AMC archrival Regal Entertainment will follow suit.
In an announcement this morning, Regal, a subsidiary of London's Cineworld Group (CNNW.F), set an Aug. 21 date for reopening its theaters.
Both companies appear to be responding to media conglomerates delaying the release of blockbuster movies once again (AMC specifically referenced Warner Bros.' Tenet and Disney's Mulan), although the situation is a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. On the one hand, theaters don't want to open unless they can be sure they'll have popular films to draw customers back to the theater. On the other hand, the movie studios don't want to release their films to empty theaters.
In the meantime, Regal is taking steps to ensure moviegoers will at least feel comfortable returning to spend their discretionary dollars at the theater. For example, the company is promising that "every auditorium and seat" will be treated with new "electrostatic 'fogger' equipment ... after each movie." Employees will be screened for coronavirus daily, and required to wear masks, as will moviegoers.
To facilitate social distancing, customers will be able to buy tickets and purchase concessions online before arriving at the theater. For those making these purchases in person, every second register will be closed to better space out the lines. To discourage back-and-forth traffic between the theater and concession stand, free refills of large popcorns and drinks will be discontinued.
In theaters, capacity will be limited to 50%. And generally speaking, groups of guests will be seated such that there are two open seats between each group.