You May Never Be Able to Go to This Beloved Movie Theater Again

Long shutdowns during the pandemic might have spelled the end for this huge cinematic chain.

Millions of people across the country may have been busy binge-watching movies on their couches during the COVID-19 lockdown. And without the ability to shoot new films or market new releases, the movie industry counts itself alongside the airline, restaurant, and hotel industries as one of the businesses impacted most by the pandemic. But the hardest suffering arm might be movie theaters, whose empty seats are looking at a dire future at the hand of new health regulations. Now, according to a recent financial report, AMC Theaters—the world's largest cinema chain—may not be able to survive.

In their latest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, AMC disclosed that they're currently short on cash. They also worry about how much revenue they'll be able to bring in with the uncertain timeline of reopening theaters in the coming months. "We are generating effectively no revenue," the company said in the report, saying they have "substantial doubt" they will survive the pandemic.

All in all, the company expects to have lost as much as $2.4 billion in the first quarter of 2o2o. With earnings down across the board compared to last year—and as an industry already on shaky ground—almost everyone is expecting the second quarter to be even worse.

To help themselves stay afloat, AMC has furloughed employees, attempted negotiating lease payments with landlords, and cut salaries at the executive level. But reopening theaters over the summer will be a very costly experience—and one with a price tag too high for the company's coffers.

On top of that, there's the increased competition from at-home on-demand streaming services, which was already making nights out at the movies an increasingly rare activity. But the historic release of Trolls World Tour really proved how much the industry is changing.

The movie was scheduled to hit theaters on Apr. 10, but amid the lockdown, its film studio, Universal, decided to make it available via On Demand services on that same day. Its at-home numbers broke records, proving Universal didn't have to share its profits with theater chains like AMC to make money. When Universal's CEO said "as soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats," AMC's CEO fired back, announcing they would no longer show any movies produced by Universal Studios. But it looks like, sadly, AMC may not be showing any films again.

One saving grace for AMC has been film studios' decisions to hold back the release of major movies—such as the latest James Bond installment—until the pandemic has cleared. But many expect post-pandemic moviegoers won't be so keen to sit in an enclosed space risking exposure for a long while. And if you're still looking for a theater experience without the risk, check out the Safest Way to Go to the Movies Right Now.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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