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Alamo Drafthouse is also instituting a “buffer” seat protocol in the U.S., while mega-Canadian exhibitor Cineplex is slashing their capacity by 50 percent.

What happens when attendance at movie theaters – one of the main drivers of the geek cultural experience – starts to thin out?

Even as Hollywood studios pull back major tentpole movies from release amid the coronavirus pandemic, many theater chains are responding with social distancing plans.

AMC Theatres, the largest chain in the US, as well as Regal Cinemas and Cineplex, the Canadian exhibition giant, all said that they are cutting seating capacity by half in all locations in the U.S. and Canada. Cinemark is also reducing capacity in California, and is likely to follow suit in other locales, similar to AMC and Regal, according to insiders. 

“AMC is proactively taking action to cut in half the number of tickets that we will make available at all our U.S. theaters,” said CEO Adam Aron. “With this action, we are facilitating the ‘social distance’ between guests who still want to see movies on a big screen.”

“The health and safety of our customers and staff is very important to us. We are continuing to follow and monitor official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health organizations,” Regal Cinemas said in a statement.

The theater chain will be “educating our staff on prevention, emphasizing frequent and proper hand washing, cleaning high contact points more frequently, providing hand sanitizing soap in all restrooms, and working with local health authorities. Additionally, we have reduced auditorium capacity by 50% and are complying, where applicable, with state mandates on social gathering limits.”

AMC, which operates 11,000 screens in the U.S., also said that it will put in place “enhanced” cleaning procedures on “hightouch point areas, including kiosks, counter tops, restroom areas, glass, handrails and doorknobs.” The new protocols will begin March 14 and will remain in place until April 30.

The question is can US movie theaters actually stay open with Coronavirus fears and no new Studio films? Other entertainment brands like the NBA and Disneyland have closed.

Before the postponement of expected blockbusters like A Quiet Place Part IIThe Lovebirds and Blue Story (all undated), Universal’s F9 (moved to April 2021), Disney’s MulanAntlers and New Mutants (all undated) as well as MGM’s No Time to Die (moved to November), analysts speculated that the pandemic was expected to cost the global box office around $5 billion. Now those estimates have grown to at least $8 billion or more depending on how long the pandemic lasts.

Sony’s Vin Diesel action flick Bloodshot took in $1.2 million on Thursday night.

I love watching movies in a theater and I want to see Black Widow, still scheduled for May 1st. Maybe if the theater was 1/4 full …

[Story originally broken by Deadline]

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David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.

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