This weekend brought in the lowest totals at the box office in 20 years as the general public began to take warnings about spreading the coronavirus seriously, but as we noted in our write-up, the next few weekends are going to get even lower as more people make the correct decision to isolate themselves and limit unnecessary contact with other people—especially now that movie studios have pulled pretty much all major releases for the next month, Universal is preparing to release films on-demand much sooner than intended, and theater chains start to take measures to limit how many people can actually buy tickets for a given showing. Now, Regal Cinemas and Landmark Theatres have both announced that they will be shutting down all of their locations out of concern about spreading the coronavirus. Both chains will temporarily close all of their locations starting tomorrow, but—at least according to the two Deadline stories about this—there’s no mention of whether or not impacted employees will still get paid. Alamo Drafthouse has also recently announced that all of its locations are closed until further notice.
Meanwhile, AMC (the largest theater chain in the country) is not taking as drastic measures, though its measures are still relatively drastic. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the company is adopting a “50-50 policy” where it will cap ticket sales at 50 people or 50 percent of regular capacity, whichever is less. This policy will be in effect through April 30, and the chain says it will also be instituting “enhanced” cleaning procedures on surfaces that are frequently touched like kiosks, counters, doorknobs, handrails, restrooms, and glass. (You probably shouldn’t touch glass anyway. It leaves handprints, and somebody would have to clean those even without a virus going around.)
Some major cities, like New York and Los Angeles, have already instituted bans on public gatherings and ordered places like movie theaters to close anyway, so the chains that aren’t staying open didn’t have much of a choice. Either way, if you’re going to a movie despite all of this going on and most of the new movies being delayed, please be very, very, very conscious of what you’re touching and whether or not you’re feeling any of the coronavirus symptoms. Or, here’s a thought, stay inside your house for the good of mankind and only go out to a movie if you absolutely have to for some reason.