Stocks for movie theaters saw a surge this week after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) said that certain chains in New York City can reopen if they follow Covid-19 safety restrictions.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter on Monday, movie theaters in New York City will be permitted to open on March 5. The city is the United States’ second-largest moviegoing market behind Los Angeles and is reportedly an essential part to studios recuperating from the financial hit of the pandemic.
Cuomo announced the decision during a press event on Monday after reportedly receiving criticism for not allowing movie theaters to reopen while bars and gyms were given the green light as pandemic numbers started to go down.
AMC CEO Adam Aron said in a statement that all 13 of its New York City locations will be opening on March 5, including AMC Empire 25, the largest cinema in the country.
“Governor Cuomo’s announcement that movie theaters can reopen in New York City in the first week of March is another important step towards restoring the health of the movie theatre industry and of our company,” Aron said in a statement.
Aron reassured moviegoers that its locations will be opening “with the highest devotion to the health and safety of our guests and associates through our AMC Safe & Clean policies and protocols, which were developed in consultation with Clorox and with current and former faculty at the prestigious Harvard University School of Public Health.”
The AMC Safe & Clean program includes reducing the maximum tickets available, seat blocking in reserved seating, improved cleaning procedures and nightly disinfecting using HEPA vacuums and upgraded air filtration. Guests will also be required to wear a mask.
The first big Hollywood film to benefit from New York’s announcement will be Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, which is set to be released in theaters and Disney+ on March 5. Warner Bros.’ family film Tom & Jerry, which opens February 26, will also reportedly be a beneficiary of the reopening.
AMC and other theaters have been allowed to open in other areas of the country, but large cities did not allow them to operate. Some movie theaters just outside of New York City were reportedly allowed to reopen last fall, but some had to close their doors again because of a rise in case numbers. New York City specifically kept its theaters shut down for almost a year and any plans for them to reopen in Los Angeles are unclear. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The larger Los Angeles market provided nearly 9 percent of all box office revenue in 2019, while the New York DMA turned in 7.4 percent.”
Roughly 38% of the theaters in North America are currently operating. Movie studios reportedly changed their strategy over the past year and streamed new releases to audiences at home rather than showing them to larger groups in movie theaters.
AMC Entertainment Holdings shares increased 14.9% in late Monday afternoon trading and climbed another 9.6% in after-hours trading. IMAX shares also went up 5.6% on Monday to a new 52-week high and rose another 0.9% after the close. Cinemark Holdings shares went up 6% during the day and 2.5% after the close.
AMC is still down 12% over a year compared to a 16% one-year gain for the S&P 500. IMAX is up 21% over the last year, while Cinemark is down 20%, as reported by Barron’s.
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