Long before coronavirus, movie theaters were going to great lengths to recapture audiences curled up in front of home theaters, binging Netflix and an ever-growing array of streaming services. I write this between my binges of "Mrs. America" on Hulu and "The Politician," an original series on Netflix, and trying to decide what to watch for my traditional sacred Sunday movie night. (Not to digress, but the two above-mentioned series are strangely, perfectly juxtaposed in capturing the weirdness of American politics in different eras.)
But what's really on my mind is whether the pandemic will strike a fatal blow to AMC Theatres, the largest chain in the country, and movie-going as we know it.
AMC reported in a June 3 financial filing it had substantial doubt about its ability to stay in business once movie theaters could reopen, CNN Business and other news agencies reported. Texas movie theaters were allowed reopen under restrictions in May, but some states are a good three months into pandemic lockdowns.
“We are generating effectively no revenue,” the company wrote of its second quarter in the filing, while estimating first-quarter losses between $2.1 billion and $2.4 billion. In April, AMC had a cash balance of $718.3 million. While the company said it had the resources to reopen “this summer or later,” it reported its “liquidity needs thereafter will depend, among other things, on the timing of a full resumption of operations, the timing of movie releases and our ability to generate revenues.”
As New York Magazine Vulture reports, even if movie theaters are able to reopen across the country in coming months, it’s likely they’ll operate at reduced capacity to maintain social distancing, much like restaurants in states that have reopened.
"And just because theaters reopen doesn’t mean potential customers will feel comfortable going out yet — especially with many movies now coming out on demand, and continuing to do so as theaters return to business," Vulture reported.
“When it reopens, AMC will no longer show Universal movies, after the studio said it will release future movies simultaneously in theaters and on demand, given the success of its 'Trolls: World Tour' release," according to Vulture.
Meanwhile, as previously buzzed, some movie theater chains see a light at the end of the tunnel. Those include Cinemark, which operates a 12-screen theater at Mainland City Centre, formerly known as the Mall of the Mainland, 10000 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway. Cinemark, rumored to be considering a new mainland venue, speculated the COVID-19 crisis would calm by the summer and told investors and financial analysts during a conference call last week it was looking to “ramp up” by July 1, with employees returning in late June, according to reports.
Galveston Premiere 11, 8902 Seawall Blvd., is moving ahead with plans it announced earlier this year for a major makeover that calls for luxury power recliners, reserved seating, self-serve concessions and more. Representatives couldn’t be reached for comment.
And Alamo Drafthouse is moving ahead with its plans for a League City venue.
In some upbeat news for the industry, movie stocks soared on news of a better than expected jobs report. A big worry was that with millions of people jobless, few would spend money on such luxuries as going to the movies.
Are you an avid moviegoer? Will coronavirus keep you away? What do you predict for the industry? And how drastically, in your opinion, will COVID-19 change yours and others' habits?