AMC will close all US theaters for six to 12 weeks

AMC this morning formally announced that it will close all locations in the United States for between six to 12 weeks, beginning today. The move comes on the heels of a partial shutdown by the largest theater chain in the U.S. last week and a similar announcement for competitor Regal last night. Regal’s announcement was a less specific “until further notice.”

AMC currently operates 661 theaters in the States, comprising more than 8,000 screens. The move is major, but not unexpected, as people and companies deal with the realities of living through a pandemic.

Movie attendance has already begun dropping shortly as people have begun to practice social distancing. AMC and other events companies have had to grapple with both concerns over employee and attendee safety, as well as an increasing push on the part of cities and States to close down businesses and require citizens to stay home in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

As it notes in a press release issued today, more than a dozen states and cities have mandated such closures over the last few days. As part of the closure, the chain will pause payments on its A-List  memberships during the months-long shutdown. No word yet on whether the massive chain has a plan in place to support employees during the closure. We’ve reached out to the company for additional comment.

“We are ever so disappointed for our moviegoing guests and for our employee teams that the new CDC guidelines that Americans should not gather in groups larger than 10 people make it impossible to open our theatres,” CEO Adam Aron said in a release. “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.”

Meantime, the company is encouraging house-bound movie buffs to use its on-demand service. Recently, NBCUniversal announced plans to offer new releases on-demand. Others will likely follow suit in the wake of these major closures.