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Movie theaters had to close their doors in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and now the outbreak could shut down the world’s largest cinema chain.
As moviegoers have either seen new movie releases delayed or sent directly to streaming platforms, AMC Theatres has been losing billions of dollars. And since Amazon isn’t coming to save them, the future is looking bleak.
Meanwhile, drive-in theaters are booming.
Here’s what you need to know:
AMC says they have “substantial doubt” they’ll stay in business.
According to CNN, when AMC submitted a financial filing this week, they said that they’ve essentially had zero revenue as a company this quarter
Even as states are lifting restrictions, theaters can’t fill auditoriums — both because social distancing will require cinemas to reduce capacity, and because moviegoers have been shy to return.
The company says they’ll be able to resume operations this summer or later.
That is, they have enough money to fully reopen. But in order to stay in business, they’ll need a few things to go their way. Movie studios will not only need to start releasing films again, but they’ll need some blockbusters.
AMC’s feud with Universal might not help.
Trolls: World Tour created the rift. After Universal Pictures announced that they’d be releasing movies simultaneously on digital and in theaters, AMC responded by banning all of the studio’s films at their cinemas — including the upcoming Minions sequel.
Other cinemas are in trouble, too, including Regal and Cinemark.
Miami-based theater chain CMX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of April, although they are likely to stay in business. Same with the Alamo Drafthouse chain in Arizona.
Cineworld, the U.K. company that owns Regal Cinemas in the U.S., has seen debt balloon to $3.6 billion — lower than AMC’s $4.9 billion, but with all of the same challenges as AMC.
Cinemark was dealing with a debt of $3.4 billion BEFORE coronavirus, but has taken on at least another quarter-billion dollars of debt since then.
Cinemark has announced a June 19 reopening with $5 movies.
Cinemark will reopen in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as a test market as of June 19, and then if all goes well, they’ll reopen 1/3 of their locations every subsequent weekend until all 344 are open July 10.
Until the release of Warner Bros. Tenet on July 17, Cinemark will show older titles in theaters at a price of $5 for adults, $3 for kids/seniors.
Meanwhile, drive-in theaters are booming.
There were as few as 315 drive-in movie theaters as of early 2020. But now, drive-ins are the most social distance-friendly way to go to the movies.
And not only have drive-ins reopened during the coronavirus crisis, countless cities in most states are opening them quickly.
Dormant drive-ins have reopened, temporary “pop-up” drive-ins have opened, and brand-new drive-ins have started business in many states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.
And drive-ins are going to be hosting Garth Brooks on June 27.
Drive-ins got an extra boost as country superstar Garth Brooks announced that he’s going to host a live concert experience on Saturday, June 27 — billed as “the largest ever one-night show to play at outdoor theaters.”
For $100 a car (which is cheaper than any Garth Brooks concert you could ever hope to attend), you can watch this exclusive event at 300 drive-ins across the country.
Normally, such special events have taken place as Fathom Events in standard theaters; this is a big change.
Find out where the concert is showing near you and buy tickets at Ticketmaster. Tickets go on sale June 19.
And theaters are still releasing movies directly to digital.
There were a BUNCH of straight-to-streaming releases early in the coronavirus pandemic, but that’s largely slowed down — perhaps a good sign for theaters.
For now, though, Disney’s Artemis Fowl, and Universal Pictures’ The King of Staten Island are scheduled to release on digital in June.