AMC Theatres AMC Theatres

The news feels at once impossible and inevitable. Less than two months after the coronavirus (Covid-19) forced China’s movie theaters to close, those in the West are following suit. For the first time in its history, North American exhibition is more or less shutting down.

Most of the largest theater chains in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. have announced the temporary closure of their branches. They are listed below. Many smaller arthouse chains and independent cinemas have done the same. The decisions were made in accordance with guidance from governments and health authorities, which are generally warning against significant social gatherings.

Chains with on-demand streaming services are encouraging audiences to use them. Sure enough, distributors are looking to home distribution to pick up the slack: in an unprecedented move, Universal Pictures is shifting some of its upcoming theatrical releases to streaming, starting with the animated film Trolls World Tour.

At the time of writing, the third biggest theater chain in the U.S., Cinemark, had not announced the general closure of venues. (UPDATE: On Tuesday afternoon, Cinemark became the last of the major American theater chains to announce a shutdown of its theaters. More details below.)

AMC Theatres, the largest cinema chain in the U.S., has closed all 630 of its locations in the U.S. for at least 6–12 weeks. Adam Aron, AMC’s CEO and president, said:

We are ever so disappointed for our moviegoing guests and for our employee teams that the new CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines that Americans should not gather in groups larger than ten people make it impossible to open our theaters. Still, the health and wellbeing of AMC guests and employees, and of all Americans, takes precedence above all else. We will continue to monitor this situation very closely and look forward to the day we can again delight moviegoers nationwide by reopening AMC movie theatres in accordance with guidance from the CDC and local health authorities.

Regal Cinemas, the second-largest cinema chain in the U.S., has closed all 543 of its locations in the country until further notice. Its theaters are branded as Regal Cinemas, Edwards Theatres, and United Artists Theatres. Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Regal’s parent company Cineworld, told Deadline:

Any time, at any Regal, it’s our goal to provide a safe and healthy environment for our employees and guests. At this time, we have made the difficult decision to close our theaters. We value our movie-loving customers and have no doubt we will be serving them again as soon as possible with a full slate of Hollywood blockbusters. The Cineworld Group and Regal theaters are strong, standing on solid ground and our continued goal is to be the best place to watch a movie!

Marcus Theatres, the fourth-largest chain in the U.S., announced this afternoon that it would shut down all of its U.S. locations, which are primarily located in the Midwest. Marcus Corp. vice president of human resources John Murray said the following about the shutdown, which will be completed in the next 24 hours:

As of today, which is about as far as we can go with any of this planning, most theaters nationally are being shut down and that will include us. We will make an announcement in the next day or two that our theaters also will be shut down and that’s both for public safety – it’s hard to do social distancing in a movie theater. That’s also for the health of our associates so they don’t get exposed to a huge mass of people who are home going stir crazy from a quarantine.

Harkins Theatres, the fifth-largest cinema chain in the U.S., has closed all of its locations in the country until March 31.

Cineplex, Canada’s largest cinema chain, has closed all 165 of its locations in the country until April 2. Ellis Jacob, Cineplex’s president and CEO, said:

Our team has been closely monitoring Covid-19 and concerns about the virus continue to escalate. The health and safety of our employees and guests is paramount and while measures like enhanced cleaning protocols and social distancing policies were put in place, the time has come for us to do more.

Based on the publicly stated guidance from multiple public health authorities, including recent government directives and the escalating dangers of community spread, we are temporarily closing our network of entertainment venues. This includes the closure of all locations of The Rec Room and Playdium, as well as our entire circuit of 165 theatres across Canada beginning tonight through to April 2, 2020.

All bookings will be cancelled for a full refund, including private theatre bookings, individual and group reservations at The Rec Room and Playdium as well as our guests with advanced tickets to see a movie in one of our theatres.

Landmark Cinemas, Canada’s second largest cinema chain, has closed all of its locations until further notice. The company said:

Landmark Cinemas has been closely monitoring the situation regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In response to this continually escalating and evolving situation, we will close all our theatres tonight, March 16th, following the completion of our last scheduled showtime.

We are committed to the health and well-being of our cast and crew, our Guests, and the communities in which we operate. We will continue to adhere to the directives of federal, provincial and municipal health authorities and will reopen when it is deemed appropriate.

We ask that you take care of yourselves, your families, and each other during these uncertain times. We look forward to welcoming you back soon.

Cinemark, the third-largest cinema chain in the U.S., announced on Tuesday afternoon that it would close all 345 of its locations starting tomorrow. “The decision to close our U.S. theaters was incredibly tough, but we know it is the right thing to do as global coronavirus concerns continue to escalate,” said Mark Zoradi, Cinemark CEO. “We will closely monitor recommendations of national and local governmental health organizations and look forward to inviting everyone to once again enjoy experiencing the movies with Cinemark.”

In the U.K., the three largest cinema chains — Cineworld, Odeon, and Vue — have closed all their locations, which total more than 300. Trade body Cinema UK issued the following statement:

Mindful of the latest scientific advice from the government, the coming days will see the closure of most U.K. cinema sites. The priority now is to ensure that thousands working in the sector are helped during an exceptionally challenging period for them, and that U.K. cinema venues are supported during what for many represents an unprecedented challenge to their existence.

(Image at top: AMC Theatres)

Latest News from Cartoon Brew