AMC, more than the other major theater chains, really stepped in it over their reopening plans by having their doofus CEO equate wearing masks to a political statement in the middle of a pandemic. Although none of the three major chains—AMC, Regal, and Cinemark—were requiring their customers to wear masks, AMC came in for the heaviest fire, and now it looks like they’ve changed course.
The Hollywood Reporter published the following statement from AMC:
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.
While this is a move in the right direction, it doesn’t answer the question of how AMC plans to reconcile making masks mandatory while also serving concessions. That’s the key issue here because theaters make most of their money from concessions. If they’re only showing movies, they’re still losing money, and that puts them in the same scenario as if they had never opened in the first place. It’s an impossible situation, and right now exhibitors should be negotiating with the studios to temporarily change the terms of the revenue split so they can weather this pandemic. Unfortunately, the burden is being moved to the customer, so while I applaud AMC for now requiring masks, we should be attentive to see how it’s implemented.