Entertainment

AMC is limiting how many people can see a movie at one time, more theaters could be next

Key Points
  • AMC has placed a 50% capacity cap on its theaters, amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  • No AMC auditorium will offer a capacity of more than 250 seats, the company said.
  • The cap will start on Saturday and continue until April 30.
Shoppers walk through the Easton Town Center Mall in Columbus, Ohio.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

AMC theaters will be a little less crowded. 

On Friday, the company announced that it is capping its ticket availability for all showtimes, allowing for only 50% seat capacity.

"With this action, we are facilitating the 'social distance' between guests who still want to see movies on a big screen," Adam Aron, CEO and president, AMC Theatres, said in a statement.

No AMC auditorium will offer a capacity of more than 250 seats, the company said. The cap will start on Saturday and continue until April 30.

The company has also said that "hot spot" areas in its facilities, such as kiosks, countertops, restrooms, handrails and doorknobs, will be cleaned hourly. It has asked guests who are not feeling well to remain home.

AMC shares were trading up 1.4% Friday. However, the stock, which has a market value of $307 million, is down nearly 60% since the start of the year.

Rival movie theater operators have also taken a hit on their stock. Cinemark, which has a market value of $1.6 billion, has tumbled nearly 60% since January. 

Representatives for Cinemark and Cineworld were not immediately available to comment about how they are handling capacity going forward. 

B&B Theaters, the sixth-largest movie chain in the U.S., said it hasn't had to reduce capacity, because most of its theaters have under 250 seats. The company has instituted a stricter cleaning regimen for its facilities and reminded staff and guests to wash their hands frequently.

"The box office is under attack economically in a way that the world has never seen and many will suffer significantly because of it," said Eric Schiffer, CEO and chairman of Patriarch Organization and Reputation Management Consultants .

"The box office has already struggled for a while and this is just another nail," he said.

Schiffer said that most theaters, particularly smaller chains, will not be able to succeed with capacity reductions.

"Theaters will be shut down soon," he said.

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AMC theaters to cut auditorium capacity by 50%