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A First Look at Covid-19 Safety Protocols for Movie Chains - Regal Cinema, Cinemark and AMC Theaters

August, 13, 2020


Movie theaters around the world have shuttered their doors since mid-march due to Covid-19 concerns. Major movie theater chains such as Regal Theaters, Cinemark and AMC Theaters have announced new health and safety protocols in place for guests and employees as the industry adapts to the pandemic’s new normal.


A First Look at Covid-19 Safety Protocols for Movie Chains - Regal Cinema, Cinemark and AMC Theaters by The Big Magazine

On Tuesday (Aug 11) Regal, which operates 539 theaters in 42 U.S. states released a promotional video giving guests a first look at what the movie theater experience will be like with new safety precautions and health measures in place based on the CDC’s guidelines.



Some notable changes for Regal, a subsidiary of the Cineworld Group, are significant spaces between seats and customers wearing masks while seated. Seat capacity will be reduced by 50% with at least two empty seats between groups. Customers will be allowed to remove their masks while seated to enjoy food or drink purchases. They will require employees to wear face masks and gloves at all times, along with participating in daily temperature screenings and training.


A First Look at Covid-19 Safety Protocols for Movie Chains - Regal Cinema, Cinemark and AMC Theaters - Photo by The Big Magazine

Other plans include increased cleanings between showings and the use of floor markers to help with social distancing. Hand sanitizers will be placed at entrances and other key areas; and they will encourage contactless payments for both tickets and concessions.


A First Look at Covid-19 Safety Protocols for Movie Chains - Regal Cinema, Cinemark and AMC Theaters - Photo by The Big Magazine

Upon returning to the movies, AMC guests can expect to experience AMC’s comprehensive health and sanitation program: AMC Safe & Clean, which was developed under advisement of current & former faculty of Harvard University’s prestigious School of Public Health and the No. 1 U.S. cleaning brand, The Clorox Company.


AMC Safe & Clean components include significant reductions in the maximum tickets available for each showtime and seat blocking in reserved seating auditoriums to allow for social distancing between parties, enhanced cleaning procedures that include extra time between showtimes to allow for a full, thorough cleaning and nightly disinfecting using electrostatic sprayers, use of high tech HEPA vacuums, upgraded air filtration efforts including the use of MERV 13 filters wherever possible, new guest and associate safety protocols that include mandatory mask wearing by all guests and associates, hand sanitizing stations throughout the theatre, and the availability to guests of disinfectant wipes.


A First Look at Covid-19 Safety Protocols for Movie Chains - Regal Cinema, Cinemark and AMC Theaters by The Big Magazine

In late June, Cinemark announced in a press release that they will enforce similar measures, adhering to “The Cinemark Standard” upon reopening with enhanced cleanliness, sanitizing and safety measures. Each theatre will also have a designated “Chief Clean” and “Safety Monitor” on duty to ensure guest safety, physical distancing, and monitor cleanliness and sanitation protocols.


Analysts predict that ticket sales will plunge to $7 billion in 2020 compared to the $11 billion in box office sales over the last 5 years, according to MoffettNathanson, a media research company. Universal came to an agreement with AMC, the largest theater chain in the U.S., that a movie will be available for on-demand viewing 17 days after it is first released in theaters. The average wait for a movie to go from big screen to an at home on-demand purchase is 90-days. The new deal doesn’t benefit Regal theaters or Cinemark chains, which ideally need a longer theatrical window to recuperate sales and cost of operating at a reduced capacity.



Regal Theaters (the second largest chain) plans to reopen U.S. theaters on Aug. 21, just in time for the newly announced release date of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.” The “Inception” director’s highly anticipated new film will hit theaters in 70 countries on Aug. 26 and U.S. theaters on Sept. 3.


However, it remains unseen if indoor movie theaters will be allowed to reopen in all states. California is in “phase four” of the reopening process. With the number of coronavirus infections rising in the United States, it’s unclear whether those theaters can continue to survive operating at 50% capacity.


To commemorate the re-opening, AMC Theatres, the world’s largest movie chain, announced that they will open their doors on August 20 by Celebrating 100 Years of Operations with “Movies in 2020 at 1920 Prices”. Over 100 theatres will sell tickets for just 15 cents each (plus tax) for one day only (8/20)


This is part of a phased plan to reopen AMC in the United States. AMC expects to open approximately two-thirds of its more than 600 U.S. theatre locations in time for the September 3 release of Warner Bros.’ TENET, following Disney’s August 28 release of THE NEW MUTANTS. The rest of AMC’s U.S. theatres will open only after being allowed to do so by state and local officials.


Cinemark has also begun a phased reopening of its U.S. theaters.

It’s also still unclear how many new movies will be available on the big screen. Disney’s live-action “Mulan” has been delayed indefinitely, “Wonder Woman 1984″ moved to October, and the James Bond adventure “No Time to Die” shifted from April to November. Russell Crowe’s “Unhinged” and Janelle Monae’s “Antebellum” are scheduled for release Aug. 21, and “Bill and Ted Face the Music” will come a few weeks later along with “Tenet.”