AMC, Regal and Cinemark Hit with Backlash Over Movie Theater Mask Policies

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AMC, Regal and Cinemark, the three largest movie theater chains in the U.S., will be opening their doors again in July. Most movie theaters have been shut down since mid-March in the interest of public health, which has served as a huge blow to the exhibition side of the business. Though many lovers of the theatrical experience are eager to return to theaters, all three chains have been met with major backlash online after it was revealed that they won’t be requiring guests to wear face masks.

Regal and Cinemark previously announced their respective reopening plans. In both cases, employees will be required to wear masks, but not customers. AMC, the largest chain in the country, recently revealed its plans, which were remarkably similar. The exception being in states that require face masks in public. AMC CEO and president Adam Aron said the lack of a mask requirement had to do with wanting to avoid “political controversy,” while adding that they thought requiring guests to wear masks would be “counterproductive.”

The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have both strongly recommended that people wear masks in public. Multiple studies have shown that they are one of the most effective ways to reduce risk around other people. Despite that, the issue has become politicized. The policies from all three chains were criticized heavily on social media. Symone D. Sanders, a senior advisor for presidential candidate Joe Biden, had this to say.

“Canceling my AMC membership because there isn’t anything political about wearing a mask. It’s just a good public health practice that will help save lives!”

All three chains will be taking up extra sanitation measures and limiting auditorium capacity, among other precautions. They will also be encouraging that guests wear masks, with Adam Aron saying he thinks the “vast majority” of guests will wear them. But the lack of a mandate has drawn ire from moviegoers. Critic Brendan Hodges had this to say.

“AMC joins Cinemark & Regal by not mandating masks for guests. They say it’s a ‘political issue.’ They are baffoons and cowards at the expense of public health. I understand they need concession revenue, but there’s no excuse they can’t be mandatory entering/exiting. F*** them.”

Regal will be the first to reopen its doors on July 10. AMC is set to open on July 15, with Cinemark set to follow on July 17. The first blockbuster on deck to release is Mulan on July 24, with Tenet arriving a week later on July 31. It remains to be seen how many people will be willing to return to theaters, but based on the social media response, these policies will be discouraging quite a few potential moviegoers. The news of AMC’s reopening was first reported by Variety.

So AMC is reopening without a mask requirement? Okay – enjoy not having the business of those of us who don’t see mask wearing as a ‘political controversy’ but as a necessary step to protect our loved ones. I think this is an incredibly irresponsible stance.

— Dan Murrell (@MurrellDan) June 18, 2020

AMC joins Cinemark & Regal by not mandating masks for guests. They say its a “political issue.”

They are baffoons and cowards at the expense of public health. I understand they need concession revenue, but there’s no excuse they can’t be mandatory entering/exiting.

Fuck them.

— Brendan Hodges (@metaplexmovies) June 18, 2020

Canceling my AMC membership because there isn’t anything political about wearing a mask. It’s just a GOOD PUBLIC HEALTH PRACTICE THAT WILL HELP SAVE LIVES!

— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) June 19, 2020

[Which means that science-conscious patrons concerned with their health and the health of others will be avoiding you like the plague. Very like the plague.]
The theater chain CEO's remark drew backlash. Regal and Cinemark announced the same lax policy.

— John Wesley Shipp (@JohnWesleyShipp) June 19, 2020

The fact that this dumb country managed to turn "wearing a mask to stop the spread of a deadly plague" into a political act proves how fucking hopeless we are

— Chris Evangelista (@cevangelista413) June 17, 2020

AMC Theaters immediately after reopening with no masks requirements

— Looks Like Silence (@Dumbuglyloser) June 19, 2020

Everyone's yelling at AMC for not requiring masks, but don't forget to yell at Cinemark and Regal for not requiring masks!

— Scott Gairdner (@scottgairdner) June 18, 2020

1. If AMC theaters don’t require a mask, then they are basically valuing asses in seats over public safety.

2. Masks! A political controversy! American conservatives have made one of the best, easiest anti-Covid measures in existence into a “debate” with “sides”

— Abe “Dr. Pepperbeans” Goldfarb (@AbeGoldfarb) June 18, 2020

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but the reason AMC Theaters isn't making masks mandatory is because its hard to eat concessions with a mask on, and they want to sell popcorn more than they want keep people safe.

— Ryan McDermond (@RyanMcDermond) June 18, 2020

AMC theaters says that they wont require masks upon reopening because they dont want to be drawn into a political controversy thus assuring that they will be drawn unto a political controversy.

In other words your life is not as important as them staying out of a controversy.

— Secret Agent Number Six (@DesignationSix) June 19, 2020

AMC Theatres won't require customers to wear masks because they don't want to be drawn into a political controversy.

Is asking drivers to drive on the right side of the road a political controversy?

— JRehling (@JRehling) June 19, 2020

How about you kick it off with the movie Outbreak so everyone can relive the movie theater scene? 🤷🏻‍♂️

— Bill Williams (@mrbill542) June 18, 2020

If you’re not requiring masks I won’t be coming to your theaters.

— Greg (@gwiss) June 18, 2020

While I like the movie theater experience a ton, I'll be waiting until you mandate mask wearing.

— Bryant Durrell (@BryantD) June 18, 2020

I don’t see mask requirements on your “Safe & Clean” policy…no thanks.

— Brad A. Hargis (@BradHargis) June 18, 2020

I'm canceling my AMC A-list membership. Not requiring masks is so cowardly. We've been fine streaming movies at home safely. Anyone that's been in a theater knows that there's always that one with a cough.

— Désirée Rose (@irees) June 18, 2020

We have been trying to decide if we are willing to risk going to movies again when theaters open, but if you won’t be requiring masks then we will probably just keep watching at home on demand. Sitting in a room for 3 hours with strangers seems really dumb right now.

— Chris (@stokith) June 18, 2020

Until masks are required, no one in my family will be allowed in an @AMCTheatres!

— Amy J. Matheson (@AmyJMatheson) June 18, 2020




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