As response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve in North America, numerous releases on the near future release schedule have been postponed until further notice. But for movies already in theaters, like Sonic The Hedgehog and Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, and films that have just debuted this weekend, such as Bloodshot, there’s some uncertainty on how those films are to proceed. Which makes the recent decision by AMC and Regal to reduce available capacity all the more intriguing.
Instead of closing theaters outright, like some had assumed, major chains like AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas are implementing policies that leave a certain amount of seats empty. The intent is that while attendance will undoubtedly be down, movie fans will still be able to enjoy new releases like The Hunt in a responsible manner.
As social distancing is becoming more of a concern for anyone who’s still roaming about in the outside world, measures are now being implemented to reduce seat counts available, and using the empty seats to space out theatrical patrons.
In addition to these new seating restrictions, announced by THR, major theater chains are announcing extensive cleaning measures that will ensure seats, restrooms, and concession stands continue to be as clean as possible for folks still ready and willing to go to the movies. While these measures are most certainly designed to comfort those who want a big screen experience, there’s still a question of whether or not a full closure of theaters is in order.
Obviously, the closure of movie theaters will depend on one of two things: either local or federal governments will need to make some sort of decision that says closing theaters is required, or the management of these theater chains will have to pull the trigger themselves. As a majority of theaters in China have already closed, and smaller independent theaters in the U.S. have already started making decisions to close totally, and for periods as extensive as two weeks, this could impact the overall theatrical situation. So long as it’s still safe, and audiences still show up, you can count on movie theaters like AMC or Regal to stay open.
If you happen to be headed to major theater chains this weekend, films like Bloodshot, The Hunt, and I Still Believe are all still making their debuts. Though there’s no huge rush to catch any or all of those films, as next weekend’s release slate is officially empty. Should you want to see where titles like A Quiet Place Part II and No Time To Die have moved on the release schedule, feel free to take a look at our comprehensive guide.