AMC Says ‘Almost All’ U.S. Theaters Will Reopen in July

AMC Says ‘Almost All’ U.S. Theaters Will Reopen in July

LOS ANGELES — It’s almost showtime. But how many people will show?Movie theaters around the world are reopening, with AMC Theaters, the world’s largest cineplex operator, announcing on Tuesday that “almost all” of its locations in the United States and Britain would reopen next month. Over all, theaters in 90 percent of overseas markets will be running again by mid-July, according to the National Association of Theater Owners, a trade organization for movie exhibitors in 98 countries.In just three weeks, Hollywood is scheduled to restart its supply pipeline of new films. “Unhinged,” a $33 million Russell Crowe thriller, will arrive in theaters on July 1, followed in mid-July by Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” a $200 million-plus mind bender.The question, however, is whether people — even while watching movies in well-sanitized theaters with limited capacity — will feel safe from the coronavirus, the spread of which rose to a worldwide high on Sunday, as measured by new cases. As the United States has started to reopen its economy, new hot spots have emerged. Mass protests against police brutality raise the specter of a coronavirus surge in the coming weeks.“Moviegoers will be looking for assurance that conditions are completely safe,” said David A. Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a movie consultancy. “There is real and legitimate concern.”Theater executives say they are confident that aggressive safety measures will offset any fears. Some states are requiring cinemas to limit capacity to 25 percent, at least initially. Groups will be seated at least six feet apart in a “checkerboard” style. Some cinemas may designate arrival times for ticket buyers to reduce last-minute crowding at concession counters. More theaters will allow patrons to order concessions with their phones. Seats will be sanitized before each showtime; California officials asked theater owners to consider using disposable seat covers.Theater employees will be required to wear masks. Moviegoers may only be encouraged to wear them.AMC said it was looking into high-tech vacuums, “electrostatic sprayers” and upgraded ventilation systems. Clorox may serve as a cleanliness adviser.“We are confident we are taking the necessary steps on a broad array of fronts,” Adam Aron, AMC’s chief executive, said.Theaters need clearance from health officials to reopen. Mr. Aron told analysts that cinemas in New York City “may or may not” have the approvals needed to reopen in time for “Tenet.” New York and its immediate suburbs make up the nation’s No. 2 movie market. Theaters in the Los Angeles area, which is No. 1, can open as soon as Friday under state guidelines; Los Angeles County authorities still must weigh in.Theater owners are desperate to start selling tickets again. The Kansas-based AMC said on Tuesday that it lost $2.18 billion in its latest quarter, compared with a loss of $130 million a year earlier. Revenue totaled $942 million, a 22 percent decline. As of April 30, AMC had $718 million in cash, enough to stave off bankruptcy through the fall even if theaters remain closed.“There will be significant pent-up demand,” Mr. Aron told analysts on Tuesday, citing early ticket sales in Norway, where AMC theaters began to reopen last week. He said that 83 percent of available tickets had been sold and that concession sales were commensurate with a year ago. “Amazing but true,” he said.Last week, AMC, which is controlled by China’s Dalian Wanda Group, said in a filing that “substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time” because of the disruption caused by the pandemic.The sputtering U.S. economy could pose additional challenges. Moviegoing has been relatively recession proof in recent decades, but this time could be different. The economic fallout of the pandemic has been severe, with tens of millions of people out of work.“We are under no illusions,” Mr. Aron said. “The waters will be choppy. There may be unforeseen tosses and turns.”Cinemark, a Texas-based chain that operates 6,132 screens in the United States and Latin America, recently reported a quarterly loss of about $59 million, compared with profit of $33 million a year earlier. Revenue totaled $544 million, a 24 percent decline. Cinemark has a cash balance of roughly $640 million.Cinemark said it would begin reopening theaters in the United States on June 19, with the goal of having every location popping popcorn again by July 10.“We will have a significant amount of promotion and welcome-back pricing,” Mark Zoradi, Cinemark’s chief executive, told analysts on a conference call, emphasizing “highly discounted” concessions.

Updated June 5, 2020

Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

How does blood type influence coronavirus?
A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?
The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?
Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?
Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?
States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?
Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

How can I protect myself while flying?
If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

Should I wear a mask?
The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

What should I do if I feel sick?
If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

The Tennessee-based Regal Theaters, which operates cinemas in 42 states, has indicated that it would also reopen in July. Regal has been owned by Cineworld of Britain since 2018. Cineworld has not yet reported financial information for the spring period.Theaters were already feeling pressured by streaming before the pandemic. Since theaters have been shut, some studios have released movies through video services. Last month, Universal vowed to make more films available without an exclusive theatrical run even when theaters reopen, prompting Mr. Aron to announce a boycott of Universal films.“With this proposed action to go to the home and theaters simultaneously, Universal is breaking the business model and dealings between our two companies,” he said in a letter to the studio’s chairwoman, Donna Langley.His tone was more measured on Tuesday. “We are in active negotiations with Universal, but no movies made by Universal Studios are currently on our docket,” Mr. Aron said. “We will see how it all shakes out.”


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