AMC, Regal and Cinemark close all movie theaters amid coronavirus pandemic
Cinemark movie theaters announced Tuesday it would be shuttering its 345 theaters across the country.
The closures, effective March 18, mark the third major theater chain to halt amid the coronavirus pandemic, following AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas.
Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi referred to "absolutely unprecedented times" in a statement. "The decision to close our U.S. theaters was incredibly tough, but we know it is the right thing to do as global Coronavirus concerns continue to escalate," Zoradi wrote.
Zoradi did not list a planned re-opening.
Nearly all of the nation's movie screens have gone dark after AMC, the largest movie chain in North America, announced Tuesday that it would close for at least six to 12 weeks.
A day earlier, Regal Cinemas, the second largest chain, announced the closure until further notice of 542 theaters across the country, representing 7,155 screens in 42 states.
The largest chains had tried to remain open, even as Hollywood studios postponed their major releases and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing steadily diminished the recommended size of crowds. But after the federal government on Monday urged against gatherings of more than 10 people, AMC said it was "essentially impossible" to continue operations.
“We are ever so disappointed for our moviegoing guests and for our employee teams," AMC CEO and President Adam Aron said in a statement. "Still, the health and well-being of AMC guests and employees, and of all Americans, takes precedence above all else."
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"It's our goal to provide a safe and healthy environment for our employees and guests,” said Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Regal's parent company Cineworld, in Monday's statement. “At this time, we have made the difficult decision to close our theaters."
Smaller chains including Alamo Drafthouse, Landmark Theatres, Showcase Cinemas and Bow Tie Cinemas have also closed.
Austin-based Alamo described the situation as "devastating" on its website: “When we re-open after this unprecedented and indefinite hiatus, it will be in a dramatically altered world, and in an industry that’s been shaken to its core."
Last weekend, ticket sales plunged to their lowest levels in at least 20 years at the weekend box office for U.S. and Canadian theaters. More people went to the movies the weekend after Sept. 11, 2001, according Comscore.
Hollywood has postponed most of its upcoming releases. Friday’s most anticipated movie, “A Quiet Place: Part II,” has been removed from the release schedule. Other major movies, including Disney’s “Mulan” and the James Bond film “No Time to Die,” have been put off.
That means that even if movie theaters remain open in the coming weeks, they will have little to play.
The National Association of Theater Owners weighed in Tuesday on the shutdowns, pledging that theatrical releases will resume once the crisis has passed.
“To avoid catastrophic losses to the studios, these titles must have the fullest possible theatrical release around the world,” the association said in a statement. “It is our understanding from discussions with distributors that the vast majority of deferred releases will be rescheduled for theatrical release as life returns to normal.”
Contributing: The Associated Press