2020 was already going to be a rough year for movie theaters. With no new Star Wars or Avengers crossovers heading to the big screen, theater chains were going to see a sizable drop in revenue. That loss has been compounded exponentially by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced closures of movie theaters all over the world, and the murky road to reopening has many questioning if and when a full recovery will be possible. It’s been nearly three months since theaters closed, and we’re finally seeing the financial impact. CNN reports that AMC Theatres will have likely lost somewhere between $2.1 billion and $2.4 billion in the first quarter of 2020—a number that becomes more dramatic when you consider that the company closed its theaters on March 16, just 15 days before the end of the first quarter. AMC’s revenue fell 22 percent, down to $941.5 million from the $1.2 billion it generated in the first quarter of 2019.
In a regulatory filing obtained by CNN, AMC Theatres said it has “substantial doubt” about its ability to remain in business. While executives believe they have the financial resources to reopen theater locations, there are other issues to consider:
Even if governmental operating restrictions are lifted in certain jurisdictions, distributors may delay the release of new films until such time that operating restrictions are eased more broadly domestically and internationally, which may further limit our operations.
If AMC and other theaters do reopen this summer, there’s still the question of when and how they’ll return to full capacity—a process that could take several months. It’s also unclear how studios will approach new film releases with theaters operating at reduced capacity.