AMC Theatres is the world’s largest cinema chain, with its own skyscraping headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, and over 11,000 screens in 1,006 theaters worldwide. The company was founded in 1920, by ringmaster brothers Maurice, Edward, and Barney Dubinsky, who bought a Regent Theatre in Kansas City, changed their name to Durwood, and set about building an entertainment industry. And now, after one hundred years and six months in operation, the Dubinskys’ dynasty is on the precipice of failure.
Like most entertainment venues in the United States, all AMC theaters closed on March 17 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Theaters are considered a high-risk venue, with dozens or hundreds of people sitting in close proximity over an extended period of time. Some theaters tried enforced spacing, but eventually, most states mandated that they close and AMC made a company-wide decision to follow that order. At the time, AMC Theatres predicted its cinemas would be back up and showing in about four weeks.
As of June 2020, however, theaters are no closer to re-opening.
“We are generating effectively no revenue,” said AMC Theatres in a public report on June 3, 2020. The report shows that the company’s revenue for the first quarter was $941.5 million, a loss of nearly 25 percent compared to the same quarter last year. And so far in the second quarter, its revenue has been a substantial negative number. AMC says it has lost between $2.1 and $2.4 billion to the pandemic so far.
Even if AMC theaters were allowed to reopen today, the damage might already be fatal. Audiences may be hesitant to return, and it’s doubtful that cinemas will be allowed to seat at full capacity any time in 2020. Studios like Disney are holding back major releases such as Wonder Woman 1984, F9, and Mulan until there is more certainty of theater viewers, and Universal broke contract with AMC by moving its new movie, Trolls World Tour, directly to digital release, leading to a feud between the companies which will probably prevent AMC from showing future Universal movies.
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